informa
/
News

ReportingEngines' Formula One

Product Profile

Reliability

Reliable software assures consistent, continuous operation regardless of expected and unexpected events. Business intelligence software should provide equivalent results assuming equivalent inputs. Business intelligence software should be available for use when required. For this profile, we highlight specific features of the product that contribute to reliability.

Because Formula One operates as embedded code hosted by an application server, it delegates reliability features found in enterprise reporting systems to the application server. Failover and restart along with load balancing are available if the application server hosting Formula One provides them.

Adaptability

Adaptable software supports unforeseen requirements. Users expect software to adapt to any required usage mode. Administrators expect software to adapt to any configuration requirement. Business Intelligence software must adapt to any and all business analytic and decision-making needs.

The programming-centric architecture of Formula One makes it adaptable to a wide range of reporting challenges. Clearly, many design challenges that are not supported out-of-the-box can be overcome with incremental coding. Yet, boundaries to the applicability Formula One are clear; embedded reporting is a good application for Formula One whereas enterprise production reporting is not. Based upon the lack of administration options, Formula One will work best when administrative requirements are simple and few.

Formula One e.Spreadsheet engine has the unique capability to execute calculation tasks on a server that are defined within a spreadsheet. The implication is that end-users can use familiar tools to define computational tasks that can then be scheduled to execute automatically on a server. This usage paradigm can simplify collaboration between IT and line of business as they work to create useful business analysis.

Bottom line: Enterprise deployment features are missing from Formula One. Compensation through custom development and application server hosting can overcome some of these omissions. e.Spreadsheet can creatively solve collaboration challenges between IT and LOB.

Performance

Software must assure that all active users experience minimal delay as they use the software to meet their role responsibilities. Good software performance enables users and administrators to accomplish their jobs within the constraints of their business. Business Intelligence software performance minimizes the decision making cycles through fast information delivery and analysis along with streamlined decision making.

Many factors affect reporting system performance. Some are internal to the reporting system and some are external. Reporting systems can address impacting factors in two ways: 1) assure that the report-generation tasks (e.g. report data population and delivery) are executed as efficiently as possible and 2) compensate for performance deficiencies elsewhere in the system (e.g. data source query latency).

Formula One is a streamlined reporting tool. Nevertheless, large-scale reporting performance tuning capabilities are left to the hosting application server and the developer to provide. Report throughput will depend upon the efficiency of the implementation (including the data sources). Some features exist to overcome performance issues elsewhere in the system:

  1. Reports can be executed in advance of user demand.
  2. Users can receive reports one page at a time to reduce delivery latency.

Bottom line: Formula One provides some features to assure adequate performance, but it depends upon external resources for others (e.g. load balancing, parallel processing, etc.).

Cost of Ownership

Software efficiency can be measured by aggregate ownership costs. Total cost of ownership includes software costs, hardware costs and personnel costs. Personnel costs can include cost of usage and administration. Low cost of ownership assures that software (including business intelligence software) minimizes cost impact on organizations while meeting its stated requirements.

Relative ownership costs of Formula One will vary according to its usage. Development costs where the design requirements fall mostly within its out-of-the-box functionality will be low. Administration costs will be low as long as administrative requirements fit within the capabilities of the product and its hosting application server. At $4,995 per server, software licensing costs are very low when compared to licensing costs for vendor-licensed business intelligence reporting systems systems (see "Business Intelligence Total Cost of Ownership Benchmark"), but higher when compared to open-source reporting technology. Hardware costs will likely vary insignificantly across various alternative equivalent reporting solutions.

Bottom line: Overall costs will be significantly lower than for business intelligence reporting systems from leading vendors. Open source solutions may be price competitive, but costs will vary based upon the quality and support for the open-source solutions. Variations in cost between Formula One and open source will be significantly narrower than between Formula One and vendor-licensed business intelligence reporting systems from the leading vendors.

Recommendation

Formula One meets many of the needs for information delivery infrastructure used for operational performance improvement: extensive APIs for integration, support for leading applications servers, innovative spreadsheet integration and delivery, and graphically created reports (and spreadsheets). Organizations that intend to implement operational performance management applications that require reporting and application integration should consider Formula One. Organizations intending to deploy applications to support Excel-user communities should consider the Formula One e.Spreadsheet Engine. Embeddable reporting technology such as Formula One will lower ownership costs and accelerate development schedules as organizations use it to avoid development of non-application-specific infrastructure.


Eric Rogge [[email protected]] is research director of Business Intelligence and Analytics at Ventana Research. Rogge has more than 20 years experience with technology and software vendors in the analytic applications, enterprise software, and database software segments.