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12/21/2006
07:06 AM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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Sweet Suite Integration: BI Vendors Get it Together

Here's another sure-fire way to make BI an everyday office tool: standardize on a BI suite that has all the goodies (OLAP, reporting, query, dashboards) optimized for your different user groups yet reduces the cost of ownership. A fair few nay sayers grumble that the latest BI suites are a not at all integrated. Not true! The latest releases are miles ahead of previously disparate products. Here are just a few examples:

Here is another sure-fire way to make BI an everyday office tool: standardize on a BI suite that has all the goodies (OLAP, reporting, query, dashboards) optimized for your different user groups yet reduces the cost of ownership.

A fair few nay sayers out there continue to grumble that the latest versions of BI suites are a not at all integrated. Not true! You can read about the finer points of integration in the BIScorecard BI Suite Integration report along with analyses of each vendor, but the bottom line is that the latest releases are miles ahead of what were previously disparate products. Here are just a few examples:• BusinessObjects XI R2 integrates the previous separate Crystal Reports and Business Objects product lines • Cognos 8 provides a spectrum of capabilities that replaces the separate Impromptu and PowerPlay products • Hyperion System 9 provides a common platform for the separate Essbase, Performance Suite (formerly Brio), Planning and Finance products

Each of these newer suite versions do include additional capabilities and enhancements, but the biggest value is the integration, which was necessary to support expanding user bases. The key benefit to IT is the ability to do more with less: support more users, with fewer resources (personnel, hardware and software). BI suites allow you to do this in a number of ways by providing common security, metadata, and the ability to deploy and control modules from a central server. The biggest benefit to users is that all BI content is in one place, with common metadata based on consistent business definitions.

While these three vendors may have the biggest integration stories to tell, other BI vendors also have varying degrees of integrated and expanding BI suites:

• MicroStrategy has had perhaps the most integration in terms of OLAP, reporting, and ad hoc query solutions and will look to expand to dashboard capabilities early next year. • SAS BI runs on a common platform, providing ad hoc query and OLAP and continues to integrate additional BI capabilities. • Microsoft BI already combines reporting and OLAP in SQL Server 2005 and will move to include budgeting, planning, and integrate dashboards (currently via ProClarity) as part of its suite.

Most companies have mixed deployments from multiple vendors, making it hard to standardize on a BI platform. For those lucky few who are new to BI or who don't have disparate solutions from multiple vendors, your path to a single BI suite is a little easier. "Little" is the operative word here, as migrating to the latest version of a BI suite comes in varying degrees of pain and cost. Regardless, it's something you should be pursuing as it will allow you to achieve greater BI success and reach ever more users.

Until next time, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year! … I think I'll use one of my BI tools to do a variance analysis on this year versus last year gift expenses, and no, I don't need a dashboard alert to tell me I'm running out of shopping time!

Cindi Howson is the author of BIScorecard product reviews. Write her at cindihowson@biscorecard.com.Here's another sure-fire way to make BI an everyday office tool: standardize on a BI suite that has all the goodies (OLAP, reporting, query, dashboards) optimized for your different user groups yet reduces the cost of ownership. A fair few nay sayers grumble that the latest BI suites are a not at all integrated. Not true! The latest releases are miles ahead of previously disparate products. Here are just a few examples:

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