Business Objects SA took a large step forward in improving its Web-based query, analysis and reporting tool when it unveiled the 2.7 release of its WebIntelligence product last week.
The software, which requires only a Web browser client to query databases, access reports and perform ad hoc analysis, supports multidimensional and relational querying. Business Objects previously offered such hybrid support only in its client/server product.
While hybrid query and reporting is not new in business intelligence software, Business Objects does appear to be breaking new ground with the product. WebIntelligence 2.7 supports access to several different OLAP (online analytical processing) sources including Hyperion Solutions Corp.s Essbase, IBMs DB2 OLAP Server, Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server Analysis Services and SAP AGs Business Warehouse.
In addition, WebIntelligence 2.7 is handling the drill-through from relational to multidimensional in a new way, using an XML interface and workflow to transfer queries between sources. This keeps the proper context for the translation between the summarized OLAP data and the generated detailed relational report, said officials at Business Objects North American headquarters, in San Jose, Calif.
"[Business Objects competitor] Cognos [Inc.s Power-Play Web reporting tool] cant drill down to relational from OLAP databases other than its own, and while some other OLAP vendors do offer automatic relational drill down, they dont have Business Objects rich reporting capabilities," said Nigel Pendse, the London-based author of the OLAP Report newsletter.
Cognos officials in Ottawa disputed Pendses claim, saying that PowerPlay can handle the drill-through to third-party OLAP cubes with scripting.
Users of analytics technology have a definite need to combine relational and multidimensional data in as seamless a fashion as possible.
Corporate travel site GetThere.com offers PowerPlay to customers as a service called Direct Observer. The service lets them access reports on travel data to track how much and where money is being spent on travel.
"It can give our customers a better understanding of what kind of commitment to make to a particular vendor," said Jay GaBany, director of product marketing at GetThere.com, in Menlo Park, Calif. "It allows them to see how big a job it will be to take share from one vendor and give it to another."