Developers Meld BI, Reporting

New reporting tools from MicroStrategy and an update from IBI tackle the goal of a single platform.

Enterprises looking to consolidate their business intelligence applications on a single platform got new reporting tools from MicroStrategy Inc. and an update to existing reporting technology from Information Builders Inc.

Both companies are promising that customers can lower their costs and infrastructure requirements by turning to a single BI vendor.

MicroStrategy last week introduced Report Services, a Web services-based platform that adds reporting capabilities to the companys core analytical and data-mart-building software. MicroStrategy officials, in McLean, Va., said they are delivering a more complete reporting offering than their chief rivals: Business Objects S.A. and Cognos Inc.

Reports available from MicroStrategy include score cards and dashboards; data-intensive operational reports; classical business reporting, including grids and banding; managed metrics reports; and customer-facing reports such as those for invoices and bank statements. The reports are all delivered as Web services and integrated with MicroStrategys 7.5 platform, which is required to use the technology.

Beta tester Brett Gourley said Report Services is a solid technology that should be able to displace Crystal Decisions Inc.s Crystal Reports at his company, 21st Century Insurance Group Inc., of Woodland Hills, Calif. Gourley said, however, that Report Services does not yet support reporting of mainframe data, which may be an issue in some companies.

"We can leverage one set of metadata and one set of development metrics," said Gourley, senior project manager at 21st Century. "We can save on dual development costs and consolidate licenses to one vendor. And we wont have to run separate servers for reporting."

Separately, New York-based Information Builders last week announced Version 5.2 of its WebFocus reporting platform, adding single-sign-on capabilities and several usability enhancements. The upgrade integrates Netegrity Inc.s SiteMinder product to provide the single-sign-on capabilities. That will allow users to sign on once to any WebFocus applications or reports theyve been provisioned for.

Other features in WebFocus 5.2 include ad hoc graphical capabilities, such as new graph defaults and styling options; interdependent filters for simplifying report development; and the ability to drill down to different reports, locations or applications from a single item within a report. The upgrade also features expanded mainframe support for IBMs WebSphere and z/OS; real-time visualization capabilities through the WebFocus Visual Discovery tool; and the ability to map the geographic component of business data.