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12/10/2008
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Business Objects Enhances SaaS-Based BI Portfolio

Data warehouse development environment and saleforce.com integration accelerator broaden Business Objects BI OnDemand.

Where most business software-as-a-service-based business intelligence offerings address specific applications or industry models, Business Objects is all but alone in taking a horizontal approach to SaaS-based BI. Bolstering its all-purpose Business Intelligence OnDemand platform, Business Objects today announced a Content Creation and Development Environment (CCDE) and an Acclerator for Salesforce.com, feature enhancements designed to speed development and ease ongoing maintenance of cloud-based data warehouses.

The BI OnDemand platform has included an option for hosted data warehousing for more than a year, but related development and ongoing maintenance activities (such as modeling and ETL) had to be handled offline, often with assistance from Business Objects. CCDE is a SaaS-based tool set for creating, supporting and working with a BI OnDemand data warehouse.

"The CCDE gives our customers an on-demand option for creating the database schema, the ETL code, and the metadata, or Business Objects Universe, for a hosted warehouse," says Carl Dubler, product manager of BI OnDemand. "CCDE also lets power users connect to that warehouse and build data sets, reports and analytics online."

Business Objects already has a strong SaaS-based complement to Salesforce.com with integrations into CrystalReports.com, but the new Accelerator uses the CCDE to rapidly build warehouses centered around (but not limited to) data from Salesforce.com. To use the service, all customers need do is provide Business Objects with a login to their Salesforce system. "We have an automated tool that will bring the desired list of objects, including custom objects, into a hosted warehouse," Dubler explains. "It also sets up a nightly ETL job as well as sample templates and a Business Objects Universe.

Customers can do analysis of the warehouse right away using the BI OnDemand Web Intelligence [Webi] tool, but if more in-depth or customized analysis is required, they can use the CCDE to build custom analytics. Dubler says four beta uses of the Accelerator where able to build data warehouses within days rather than the weeks or months typically required when using a more conventional approach.

Schroders Investment Management North America is a CrystalReports.com customer that plans to make use of the Accelerator for Salesforce.com.

"We looked at [the hosted warehouse] offering a year ago and at that time it was good infrastructure, but you had to write the specs on what you wanted and send them to Business Objects, which wasn't a very fast or flexible way to do things," says Michael Leinweber, head of digital marketing at Schroders in the Americas. "With the new offering, it's not just an on-demand data warehouse, you get a complete on-demand data warehouse management environment."

Leinweber says Schroder plans to create a data warehouse to deliver historical analyses and comparative reports that aren't possible through either Salesforce.com or CrystalReports.com.

The CCDE and Accelerator for Salesforce are free enhancements to the BI OnDemand service. Aside from CrystalReports.com and BI OnDemand, Business Object's other SaaS-based offerings include the OnDemand Business Applications service, based on the acquired Nsite.com platform, and Information OnDemand, a collection of third-party information data-enrichment services aggregating sources including Dun & Bradstreet and Thomson Financial. As for other SaaS-based BI offerings that take a horizontal approach, startup Birst launched an industry- and application-agnostic platform earlier this year.

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