Building on a foundation that won eWEEK Excellence Awards finalist honors this year, Informaticas PowerAnalyzer 4.0 improves ease of learning and convenience of data integration while retaining the products breadth of capability and balance between flexibility and structure. Prices start at $50,000, rising on a per-CPU and per-user basis.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
PRO: Suited to a wide range of data sources, including real-time message queues and widely used Excel spreadsheets; readily tailored to various levels of user skill and privilege; user interface minimizes burden of monitoring many indicators while still making details available as desired; broad support for J2EE application servers and other standards-based resources and tools.
CON: Five-figure priceor more, depending on adoption of other Informatica componentsrepresents a major commitment of scarce funds in addition to training and involvement of development staff.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
Cognos Inc.s Business Intelligence
Information Builders Inc.s WebFocus
SAS Institute Inc.s Business Intelligence
With impressive ease of learning, powerful tools for using expert knowledge to guide the occasional user, and valuable improvements in data integration with spreadsheets and real-time data streams, Informatica Corp.s PowerAnalyzer 4.0 builds on the 3.5 release that took finalist honors in this years eWEEK Excellence Awards.
Priced on various per-CPU and per-user criteria at $50,000 and up, this business intelligence front end allows a user to define a path through related views that other users can also follow, quickly seeing exception alerts along the way so that the defining users expertise is effectively shared.
PowerAnalyzers integrated discussion facility allows a user to annotate results and seek comments from other users. This eliminates cumbersome copying and pasting of data into e-mail messages or sending of instructions on how to reproduce the view that reveals the problem.
For better or (often) worse, spreadsheets are the tool that users often turn to for analyzing data. PowerAnalyzer makes the most of it by embedding a Microsoft Corp. Excel capability for live interaction and structured import/ export. Further back-end and front-end flexibility derive from the products J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) server support and exposed Java/XML Web services APIs.
Perversely, one problem with products of this kind can be that displays are actually too dynamic, where things change before a concern can be investigated. PowerAnalyzers integrated archive capability enables scheduled or ad hoc export to several common data and document formats, providing the snapshots that are sometimes essential to meeting accountability requirements.
Dynamic search facilities, both for data and for items such as recently reviewed reports, further reduce the sense of data overload that a BI environment can all too easily produce.
Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.