Special Data Delivery

Informatica provides quick-hit reports to PDAs but not in-depth analysis.

Breaking new ground in a very mature market, Informatica Corp.s Informatica Analytics Delivery Platform Release 3, a database report creation and publishing system, does a great job delivering critical data to mobile workers, although it isnt as compelling for those using desktops.

ADP consists of two packages, Informatica Analytics Server and Informatica Mobile. (Mobile cannot be used without Analytics Server, and Analytics Server isnt that compelling without it.) Despite the Release 3 tag, both packages are new.

ADP will be expensive: Analytics Server starts at $120,000 on Windows and $140,000 on Solaris; Mobile costs an additional 30 percent of Analytics Servers price. ADPs limitations in production reporting and OLAP (online analytical processing) features also mean it wont do well as an all-in-one reporting system. The software is in limited release now; general availability is expected early in the first quarter of next year.

Add-On Advantage

The informatica mobile add-on to Analytics Server proved to be the biggest competitive differentiator for ADP in eWeek Labs tests. We were able to access reports from PDAs (personal digital assistants) running Microsoft Corp.s Pocket PC and Palm Inc.s Palm OS operating systems, a Research In Motion Ltd. BlackBerry PDA, and a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)-based Nokia Corp. 6185 mobile phone, as well as through a voice interface.

In each case, the software presented selectively less information and provided navigational controls customized to the device we were using, making it as easy as possible to get to key information fast. When creating reports, we did not have to do one thing extra to get this support, either—its automatic and a big productivity boost for mobile workers.

An Array of Alerts

The software also has an extensive alerting system that can send e-mail, text pages or voice calls if particular report data points (such as inventory levels or trouble tickets) go above or below certain values, although not if values change by a certain percent, which is a more flexible measure of change.

ADP requires a Java application server (from which it gains clustering features) and includes a copy of BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic. (IBMs WebSphere will be supported in the general availability release.) It can query data in Oracle Corp.s Oracle, IBMs DB2, Microsoft SQL Server and (by general release) Sybase Inc.s Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise databases. However, this is a small selection for a reporting product.

ADP also supports e-mail directory integration with Microsofts Microsoft Exchange mail server (to look up names in corporate address books) and will have mail directory integration with Notes, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and Internet Messaging Access Protocol servers in the general availability release.

Informatica plans to add additional alerting flexibility to the software in the coming update, including support for alerts based on percentage value changes and changes taking place within a certain amount of time.

This update will also have an expression building tool for adding simple calculated metrics to reports (for example, to add a new metric that increases prices by 7 percent to add in sales tax). No calculated metrics are now supported.