Hyperion Ships Next-Generation OLAP Platform

Much of the initial enthusiasm that accompanied Hyperion Solutions Corp.’s (www.hyperion.com) 1998 merger with Arbor Software evaporated when Hyperion experienced delays in getting the 6.0 release of Arbor’s Essbase product out the door. In late March, Hyperion put some of the concerns of customers and analysts to rest when it shipped Essbase 6.0, complete with scalability improvements and a number of important new features.

Because of its long production time, Essbase 6.0 ships with a number of new amenities that bring it up to speed with the competition in the OLAP space.

These features include support for expanded attribute analysis, which can allow users to associate additional text or numeric attributes with data elements in analytic applications built on top of Essbase. Hyperion sources say this new technology, in particular, expands Essbase’s analytical capabilities across new descriptive categories, making it applicable for demographic segments or product types, among others.

Hyperion says it also increased the performance and scalability of the flagship OLAP solution. Essbase now lets user communities across an enterprise access linked business analytic applications in multiple geographic locations. Essbase also has new calculations for forecasting, trending, statistics, and profitability modeling. By virtue of its augmented calculation support, Hyperion says Essbase lets users move beyond static historical modeling to a dynamic schema that lets them anticipate and model changes in market and business conditions.

"The new version helps organizations capitalize on emerging opportunities in business-to-business analysis," says Steve Fioretti, vice president of marketing at Hyperion. Fioretti also notes that Essbase 6.0’s enhancements are well-suited for a number of vertical markets, including the retail, consumer-packaged goods, and manufacturing spaces.

According to Mike Schiff, director of data warehousing strategies at Current Analysis Inc. (www.currentanalysis.com), Essbase 6.0 should go a long way toward erasing any doubts customers and analysts may have had concerning Hyperion’s commitment to Essbase.

"Existing Essbase customers should view the release of Essbase 6.0 as further proof that Hyperion will continue to enhance and maintain their technology investments," Schiff says. "While Hyperion has suffered a high degree of management turmoil since the Arbor/Hyperion merger, prospects should not let this unduly influence their decision to license Essbase."

When Hyperion first merged with Arbor, analysts expected the combined company to be a business intelligence/analytic powerhouse capable of competing with vendors such as Oracle Corp. (www.oracle.com). Hyperion, however, only managed to ship a point release of the Essbase product -- Essbase 5.0.2 -- and repeatedly announced delays in the shipping schedule of the much-anticipated Essbase 6.0.

The delays caused analysts such as Current Analysis’ Schiff to adjust their expectations for the combined company. Hyperion became susceptible to rumors that it wasn’t committed to supporting Essbase.

So Essbase 6.0's shipping has come not a moment too soon. And the timing may even be fortunate. Mark Smith, program director for application delivery strategies at Meta Group Inc. (www.metagroup.com), notes the demand for OLAP solutions is on the verge of exploding.

"Meta Group continues to see explosive growth and demand for analytic applications that address a broad range of traditional and emerging markets," Smith acknowledges, noting that Essbase’s advanced features -- coupled with its broad support among ISVs -- should help customers to reap the benefit of OLAP in their environments.

"With an increasing number of ISVs building analytic applications on Hyperion Essbase, and new advanced attribute and calculation features that address a range of sophisticated business analysis applications, analytical application software companies like Hyperion are well positioned to help organizations capitalize on these opportunities," Smith concludes.