Seagate, Business Objects Offer New BI Suites

Two recent product offerings punctuate a market trend toward delivering integrated business intelligence suites made up of tools from enterprise reporting to OLAP services.

Seagate Software (Scotts Valley, Calif., this month began shipping Seagate Info 7, and Business Objects (San Jose, Calif., last month announced the beta version of Business Objects 5.0.

Analyst Howard Dresner with GartnerGroup (Stamford, Conn.) defines this emerging category as enterprise business intelligence suites. "That’s the natural convergence of query, interactive ad hoc, reporting, report publishing and OLAP viewing with common infrastructure, shared user objects and enterprise scalability," Dresner says.

The announcements from Seagate and Business Objects are important because of the market position of the two companies. Dresner identifies Business Objects and Cognos Inc. (Ottawa, as the two leaders in the market segment, with Seagate third and Brio Technology Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif., fourth. A vendor with a smaller presence in the market is Hummingbird Communications Ltd. (Toronto, ), which recently added an OLAP client to its BI/Suite, Dresner says. Oracle Corp. and Information Builders Inc. (New York, are also moving in the business intelligence suite direction.

Seagate Info 7 is a renamed upgrade of Seagate Crystal Info 6 that adds and enhances several features considered critical for the suites.

New with the release is an ad hoc query tool, allowing business users to create new queries and reports via Windows or Web clients.

Seagate also added Unix support for the back-end of its four-tier system, allowing for greater scalability, says Matt Dion, Seagate’s director of strategic communications. "Our largest site, Ernst & Young, has 18,000 users hooked up to a single system," Dion says. Company officials say some customers intend to scale up to 100,000 users with the product. Another feature designed to enhance the scalability is the pricing, $295 per client seat. "Traditionally [these products cost] $800-$1,000 per user. No organization deploys that across 10,000 desktops," Dion says.

Many features of the upgraded Business Objects suite are aimed at making the tools easier for end users. They include improved drag and drop capability, a graphical representation of the users position when exploring data with OLAP tools and personalized views that allow users to look for reports in whatever way they choose.

Business Objects also added Business Objects Broadcast Server for publishing reports, pushing reports and broadcasting reports via e-mail, pager and fax.

The company also licensed Visual Basic for Applications from Microsoft to enable user customization of decision-support applications.

Analyst Don MacTavish with Meta Group (Stamford, Conn.) sees a trend with the enterprise business intelligence suites. "At Meta, we expect to see, within the year, most of the vendors with end-to-end capabilities from reporting to analysis within their suites with the goal of becoming an enterprise platform for development of business performance management and analytical applications instead of being a tool vendor," MacTavish says.