Iteration Speeds Database Reports

Real-time tool pushes out data, but approach may require back-end changes.

If reporting speed is of the essence, Iteration Real-Time Reporting Suite is worth a look: The Iteration Software Inc. package provides new ways to almost instantly push business data out to employees, even as data is being collected.

Iteration Real-Time Reporting Suite 2.0

Iterations in-memory database and self-refreshing reports allow organizations to push data as needed to employees. The package, which starts at $25,000, has some rough edges, but it also takes a fresh approach that will work well in situations where traditional reporting tools struggle.
















  • PRO: Pushes report updates to clients in near real time; can send alerts to users via instant messaging or e-mail; includes connectors for both relational databases and message-queuing systems; includes its own in-memory database for fast queries.
  • CON: Will require triggers or manual data import scheduling to monitor relational databases for changes; requires that data be copied to its internal database before it can be queried; requires Internet Explorer 6.0 and runs only on Windows systems; cross-tab report object is very slow.

KnowKnow Inc.s LiveServer • Microsofts SQL Server Notification Services • MicroStrategys Narrowcast Server or other reporting tools • Custom message-queuing clients

Iteration Real-Time Reporting Suite 2.0, released in April, puts a new twist on the old database report-generation idea. Real-Time Reporting Suites architecture is built around its own in-memory primary data cache, and it automatically updates report objects as data cache changes occur. The product can send out alerts or reports when particular data changes occur; these notifications can be sent via e-mail or instant messaging, using Real-Time Reporting Suites IM client, Windows Messenger or MSN Messenger.

Despite the products 2.0 version number, this is Iterations first production release of the Real-Time Reporting Suite software. (Iteration labeled the beta Version 1.0.) Licensing for Version 2.0 starts at $25,000 for a four-CPU server and 20 named users.

The heart of the Real-Time Reporting Suite is its in- memory database, ADC (Active Data Cache). This ADC-centric approach has notable pros and cons. On the plus side, as data enters ADC, all connected clients automatically have their open reports updated without user intervention. During eWEEK Labs tests, reports updated themselves within a second of data arriving in ADC.

On the minus side, data has to be copied to ADC before it can be reported upon, something other reporting tools (which generate reports directly from line-of-business databases) dont need to do. To make this happen seamlessly, organizations will need to add database triggers and write stored procedures to send data through to Iteration. (For one of its customers, Iteration used a Web service to link an Oracle Corp. database with the Real-Time Reporting Suite system in real time.)

Alternatively, customers can run a scheduled import every few minutes, but this is something other reporting tools can already easily do. Iteration officials said a scheduler for regular batch updates is planned for a fall update of the product.

Real-Time Reporting Suite is Windows-only, and both the server and optional native Windows client require that the .Net Framework 1.0 run-time be installed. Microsoft Corp.s Internet Information Services Web server is also required for the Web-based client and the report authoring and administration tools, and Internet Explorer 6.0 is the only supported Web browser.

On the back end, the product is quite a bit more interoperable.

To get data into ADC, Iteration includes a modified version of Sagent Technology Inc.s Data Flow Server data loading and transformation tool. DataFlow Server has native database drivers for all the major databases and provides support for importing text and XML data files. Iteration has modified Data Flow Server to also include connectors for Sagents own database and to stream data in real time from six major message-queuing products (including IBMs WebSphere MQ and TIBCO Software Inc.s Rendezvous) directly into ADC and then through to its reports.

Real-Time Reporting Suites report authoring tools provide a friendly, step-by-step approach to building tabular reports, charts and status dials. The crosstab object in this release is beta, however, and ran extremely slow during our tests.

West Coast Technical Director Timothy Dyck is at