Ashe: [Attendance was] bigger than we've ever seen, by a factor of 50%. I think it reflects the state of the BI-CPM [corporate performance management] market, that it has become so strategic to large companies. We had planning customers there, finance customers, BI customers.
Q: Is CPM starting to overshadow sales of general BI: OLAP and reporting?
Ashe: No. I think we've got two curves moving with each other. On the BI side there's such a strong movement out there for standardization as a way to make BI pervasive and set the foundation for the performance management environment, combined with just the increasingly strategic nature of BI.
Q: But is reporting, say, less strategic for you because Microsoft has commoditized it with SQL Server Reporting Services?
Ashe: Not in the large enterprise the global 3500. I think Microsoft is clearly a phenomenon at the low end. At the high end where you're really seeing the big activity around enterprise standardization if anything, reporting as a theme has become higher in the agenda.
Q: What was behind the decision to port ReportNet to Linux?
Ashe: Well, we think Linux is an important platform. We think it's going to be a very interesting platform at the low end. For sure it's becoming an interesting platform for the large enterprise. I haven't seen it pervasively yet as an application server for BI, but it's certainly finding its way into the large enterprise and into the public sector. Two, it's a great opportunity to partner with IBM.
Q: What can you tell us about the Series 8 roadmap?
Ashe: With Series 8 [expected around year end], we really bring PowerPlay into that [ReportNet] architecture so that we really take advantage of the power of that architecture across both OLAP and ROLAP as well as the basic SQL database.
Q: What will that mean for the end user?
Ashe: The biggest advantage for an end user is going to be the ability to get at any data source from a single environment. You don't have to switch tools or mix tools. Exposing PowerPlay to ReportNet architecture, we'll be able to get PowerPlay reporting against the data sources that ReportNet's really good against right now: BW [SAP Business Information Warehouse], [Microsoft SQL Server] Analysis Services data sources like that.
Q: And how well integrated is your Adaytum acquisition into the ReportNet architecture?
Ashe: That is going to just be a gradual process over time, where we will as we see the need to push new functionality, we'll push as much of it as we can out of the new architecture. That's probably 12 to 18 months away before we're really talking about a planning product inside that architecture. The most recent version of Planning, 7.2, has some integration, but doesn't yet take full advantage of that platform.
Q: What are your projections for the next three to five years?
Ashe: I think we're going to see an acceleration of the convergence [and an environment] where it's just accepted that BI is foundational for CPM, and your investment in BI is an investment in a CPM environment for the vast majority of the cases. I think that we're going to see good growth rates: BI growth rates in excess of 10%, and with market share gains, hopefully we can see between 10 and 20% in the next couple of years. And I think CPM's growth rate is going to be higher than that, but over time you're going to see these things converge into more of a single view of the market.
Q: Are you looking at getting into business activity monitoring [BAM]?
Ashe: I think the challenge is, where is BAM going to show up as a real business priority? I think where we see the application of BAM or BAM-like technology is really probably in operational scorecards that are drawing data from multiple sources, where a change in the data source becomes important to the scorecard, and so you really want to be up to date.
But when does a scorecard stop being a management tool and become a process tool? So I'm kind of skeptical that we're going to want to turn all of our dashboards' environments into process management-like environments, because people don't manage their organizations in real time. But there's certain data that becomes important in a real-time environment, and I think there's a lot of relevance around that in some of the scorecarding environments that we're seeing.
We've got our agent product that is called NoticeCast, which is another part of the environment that shows up in the Series 8 architecture. I'm a believer that [BAM is] going to find its home in an important place in the enterprise. I just don't know if it's going to be a pervasive thing because I think you really have to draw a distinction between process control and management control.