BI Tools Scrutinize Data From Diverse Apps

WebFocus 5, OpenLink and DirectLink target views of business operations.

Information Builders Inc. and Sagent Technology Inc. announced business intelligence software last week to help users get a better handle on data generated by disparate applications in their enterprises. This promises to give customers a more enterprisewide view of business operations.

Information Builders released Version 5 of WebFocus, its flagship BI tool. Separately, Sagent introduced OpenLink and DirectLink, products designed to help IT managers more easily integrate its technology in the enterprise.

WebFocus 5, which features enhanced scalability and data access capabilities, is designed more for enterprisewide deployments than for tactical or department-level engagements, said officials at New York-based Information Builders. It can support up to hundreds of thousands of users, ranging from developers and analysts to managers, employees, customers and external users such as business partners.

This release provides the ability to output reports in Microsoft Corp. Excel format, as well as in HTML, Dynamic HTML, XML and PDF. Other features include a thin client for query and analysis and online analytical processing reporting, the ability to deliver non-WebFocus content, and improved archiving capabilities.

Company officials also pointed to WebFocus 5s ability to access data from different platforms as the application runs on MVS, Linux, Unix, Windows NT and AS/ 400 systems. This ability, plus higher-level reporting capabilities suitable for a wider range of users, including executives, makes it ideal for providing BI capabilities in business performance management tasks, officials said.

WebFocus 5 can be used to create BI portals and executive dashboards to present information to user groups. Users can, in turn, customize their portals so they see only the reports relevant to their jobs and choose how they want to see those reports.

WebFocus 5 is available now, and pricing begins at $18,000 for the Windows NT version.

New offerings improve data analysis

Information Builders WebFocus 5
  • Multiplatform support, including MVS, Linux, Unix, Windows NT and AS/400
  • Information delivered in HTML, DHTML, XML, Excel and PDF
  • Financial reporting moduleSagents OpenLink
  • Incorporates analytics from Sagent Data Access Server into reports generated by third-party Java Database Connectivity- or ODBC-compliant applicationsSagents DirectLink
  • Connects to and analyzes data from SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, Siebel, J.D. Edwards and Manugistics applications
Meanwhile, Sagents OpenLink acts as a bridge between the companys Data Access Server and front-end analysis tools from other vendors, such as Business Objects S.A., Actuate Corp., Crystal Decisions Inc., Cognos Inc. and Brio Technology Corp. Those applications can incorporate advanced analytics from Sagent Data Access Server into their existing reports and business performance management applications.

Application developers can use OpenLink to query information from data warehouses and heterogeneous operational systems to form data sets that are accessible via SQL, said Sagent officials, in Mountain View, Calif.

DirectLink connects Sagent or other BI applications to operational applications from vendors such as SAP AG, PeopleSoft Inc., Oracle Corp., Siebel Systems Inc., J.D. Edwards & Co. and Manugistics Inc.

This type of connectivity can provide users with visibility into all their business operations—an essential tool when managing business performance, Sagent officials said.

OpenLink and DirectLink are in beta and scheduled to ship before the end of the quarter.

OpenLink will be bundled with Sagents Data Access Server at a price between $60,000 and $70,000.

No pricing information is available for DirectLink.