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Business Objects Upgrade Looks Beyond SAP

Business Objects XI 3.1 upgrade adds native integration to Microsoft, Oracle, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel apps and myriad third-party data sources.
"We're not preoccupied with activities around integrating Business Objects with SAP," insists Franz Aman, vice president of BI product marketing at Business Objects, an SAP company. Tired of hearing "competitor FUD" about Business Object's post-acquisition focus, Aman says, "we're absolutely dead set on supporting heterogeneous environments, and there's no agenda to only worry about SAP data sources."

In fact, the Business Objects XI 3.1 upgrade released this week has more to do with Microsoft and Oracle than SAP, Aman says. For example, native integrations have been added for Oracle eBusiness Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Microsoft Office.

"We already had connectivity to some of these applications through ETL [extract, transform and load] and our Rapid Marts, but native integration lets you tap right into the transactional databases of these applications," Aman explains.

Reaching out to the latest data sources, XI 3.1 adds connectivity to HP Neoview, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Netezza 4.0 and 4.5, Oracle 11g, Oracle 11g RAC, Siebel 8, Teradata 12 and Salesforce 12. What's more, Business Objects Voyager now works with Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2008, thus broadening OLAP analysis capabilities.

In another Microsoft-oriented enhancement, the "Live Office" integration in XI 3.1 has been extended to include Microsoft Outlook as well as the previously supported Excel, Word and PowerPoint, so tables and reports embedded in email messages can be refreshed with the latest data by recipients.

Beyond interoperability, Business Objects XI 3.1 upgrades include new data visualization options such as scatter plots, radar charts, box plots and bubble plots that uncover outliers. The release is also designed to ease and speed development with new test, rollout and rollback lifecycle management capabilities.

"The lifecycle management improvements are particularly geared to large-scale deployments," Aman says, "and they'll enable IT to move between development, test and production environments and roll back to an earlier deployment if anything bad happens."

Other upgrades to XI 3.1 include Voyager drill-through capabilities to Crystal Reports and the Web Intelligence module, native support for 64-bit architectures capable of handling larger data sets, and the addition of Norwegian, Danish and Thai to the 14 languages previously supported.