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No shortage of BI solutions

This article appears in the issue May 1999 [Volume 8, Issue 5]

Business Objects (www.businessobjects.com) offers two primary products--its Business Objects BI software and a thin-client online analytical processing (OLAP) tool, WebIntelligence. BusinessObjects (the software) delivers an integrated query, reporting and OLAP tool to access and analyze information in databases, data marts, data warehouses and ERP systems.

WebIntelligence is an enterprise query, reporting and analysis solution for the Internet. It provides many of the same functions as the full-client product--self-service access to data stored in data warehouses and data marts. Through its distributed architecture and Java query applet, WebIntelligence eliminates the need for client-side application software and database middleware.

Metagon Technologies (www.metagon.com) places its software in the extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) space. Those products deliver a single view of a corporate data architecture--independent of hardware and software type. Metagon’s tools allow data to be viewed, modified and joined regardless of location or platform.

Working with multiple platforms, Metagon’s DQ Powersuite makes it possible to access data from disparate databases. Early adopter Carl Richardson, a data specialist with the Massachusetts Housing Finance Authority, said, "With this middleware, we don’t need to go to the expense of developing a data warehouse."

Users at MHFA have not required special training to access data from their desktop intranet connection. Reports that used to take weeks with manual data transformation can be run in minutes.

Cognos’ (www.cognos.com) OLAP tool, PowerPlay, offers high-speed, graphical navigation of multidimensional data. Processing functions allow drilling down, slicing and dicing, ranking, comparing and exploring data in multiple graphic displays.

Cognos’ interactive database reporting tool, Impromptu, creates queries and reports in a user-friendly environment while controlling database access and security. Impromptu can be readily integrated with PowerPlay 5.2; users can switch between the two products--between summary information and detailed information--with a click of the mouse. Impromptu reports can be distributed over corporate intranets and the Web.

Petro-Canada explores for crude oil, natural gas and ethane, propane and butane. The company also explores for critical corporate data using Cognos’ Impromptu and PowerPlay.

Firstlogic (www.firstlogic.com) manufactures a data quality suite, I.D.Centric, which provides software to make database information more accurate. I.D.Centric offers several solutions to help build data quality into a data application.

According to Guy Creese, senior analyst at Aberdeen Group (www.aberdeen.com), "ISVs and VARs need an easy-to-use data mining tool kit that automates data mining processes and deploys to a wide variety of users and platforms."

Compression Sciences (www.kwiz-solutions.com) addresses that need with its K.wiz, data mining software. K.wiz is written in Java and leverages data warehousing and OLAP systems by revealing the underlying patterns in data and presenting them in a graphical format.

Several vendors are marketing storage area networks (SAN) to better manage data-intensive business intelligence systems. SANs are centrally managed, high-speed networks dedicated to moving information between users and storage devices. By off-loading storage management from the LAN, users don’t compete with the server for network bandwidth. As a result, applications no longer are affected by routine operations like backup.

StorageTek (www.storagetek.com) and ATL Products (www.atlp.com) are two vendors specifically tailoring their products to the SAN market.

Staples (www.staples.com) is using Storage Resource Manager from HighGround Systems (www.highground .com) to predict the expansion of RAID arrays and to check for vulnerable files that were missed in overnight backups.

Helen Flanagan, NT principal specialist at Staples, said that using a storage management tool is "like having third-shift analysts to see what happened with space." SRM allows Flanagan to see the 50 largest files on her network. That enables her to determine the most intensive files--what she called "heavy hitters"--from a single interface.


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