Reporting to the Web

Theproductivity gains of the information age have given companies the ability togenerate more reports than they know what to do with. To help organizations keeptrack of and distribute all of these reports, Redwood Software introduced thelatest version of its Report2Web software.

TheReport2Web 2.5 enterprise report portal can collect reports from almost anysystem within the enterprise, catalog them in a repository, and distribute thereports to users via a Web browser.

“We try tohelp companies leverage their existing e-business systems,” says MitchStephens, chief technology officer of Redwood. “Report2Web takes informationreports from internal sources and brings them to customers. Then they can use aWeb browser to view reports without paper.”

Report2Webcollects reports, manages archives, and distributes reports according to auser’s security clearance. “The view the users see depend on their security level.Reports are prefiltered based on security levels,” Stephens says.

Equippedwith the ability to pull reports from nearly any source in the enterprise,Report2Web can also manage massive reports and notify subscribers via e-mailabout new reports.

At an extracost, Redwood offers users add-ons to the Report2Web product. Report Bursterbreaks down large reports into smaller reports, sorts them in folders accordingto predetermined rules, and hyperlinks any related documents from other reportsor other locations on the Web. Report Router simplifies how reports are sent touser groups, while the SQL Server edition offers greater scalability withMicrosoft SQL Server 7.0. Since the Redwood product works with other reportingtools, users can request reports to be made and distributed through tools suchas Cognos Impromptu or Seagate Crystal Reports if they choose the Content onDemand add-on.

Whatdifferentiates the Redwood product from its competitors is that is was builtspecifically for the Web. “It’s neat in that it’s purely Web-based,” says DanVesset, analyst at IDC. “It was built for the Web, whereas many products wereclient-server based and then were transferred to the Web. Most products losesomething in the transfer. A lot of companies will admit their Web product isnot 100 percent of what their client-server product is.”

Since theproduct is Web-based, reports are only catalogued on the Report2Web database.“The primary function of the database is to keep track of all the documents,”Stephens says. “We don’t use the database to store reports. Reports are storedon directories on the hard disk. They are stored as native files. This is whatallows us to integrate with IIS.”

BeingMicrosoft-centric, the product integrates well with SQL Server 7.0 and thecompany has plans to leverage SQL Server 2000, as well as other databases. “Wehave plans to support Oracle8i and IBM DB2, we have an architecture that issimilar,” Stephens says. “But SQL Server is our primary focus. The timing forthe other databases will be determined by market demand.”

Despite itsMicrosoft-first mindset, Vesset does not believe Redwood will be hindered.“They are able to gather data from so many sources, it’s fairly good for them,especially with SQL Server. Hanging onto Microsoft is beneficial,” he says.“Redwood can take data from operating systems. Perhaps that makes them moreflexible than some of the other vendors.”

Redwood Software Inc., Aliso Viejo, Calif.,

IDC, Framingham, Mass.,