Review: PowerAnalyzer 4.0

 
 
By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2003-08-04
 
 
 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
PowerAnalyzer 4.0
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
USABILITY EXCELLENT
CAPABILITY EXCELLENT
PERFORMANCE GOOD
INTEROPERABILITY EXCELLENT
MANAGEABILITY GOOD
SCALABILITY GOOD
SECURITY GOOD
  • 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 price—or more, depending on adoption of other Informatica components—represents 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@ziffdavis.com.

    Rocket Fuel