Business Objects Gears up for Mid-Market Customers

Designed for mid-market customers, Crystal Reports Server XI offers a subset of the capabilities of the BusinessObjects XI suite

Following on the heels of its Business Objects XI platform release in early January, Business Objects SA last week announced Crystal Reports XI, an updated version of its flagship enterprise-reporting product.

Among other new features, Crystal Reports XI ships with a report-management workbench, support for dynamic and cascading prompts, and simplified end-user design tools. Business Objects officials highlighted many of these capabilities during the XI platform launch in early January.

More interesting, however, was the new mid-market sales initiative Business Objects also unveiled last week for Crystal Reports, which—in spite of its popularity among developers, analysts, and executives alike—is viewed by many customers as an often costly proposition, especially when compared to Microsoft’s free SQL Server Reporting Services offering.

With this in mind, Business Objects last month unveiled Crystal Reports Server XI, a specially licensed product-and-services bundle that offers a subset of the capabilities of its flagship BusinessObjects XI suite. What’s more, Business Objects officials say the scaled-down Crystal product is the first in a series of releases designed for mid-market customers.

Business Objects licenses Crystal Reports Server XI for use on a single server with up to four processors. It’s designed to support a maximum of 20 concurrent users and is upgradeable to BusinessObjects Enterprise.

Mike Schiff, a senior analyst with consultancy Current Analysis Inc., says that the Crystal Reports Server XI release should help make Business Objects more competitive in mid-market accounts. At the same time, he points out, the new offering may confuse customers.

“While the focused SMB offerings … should appeal to this audience and help Business Objects target a wide range of organizations, it could cause some confusion relative to the overall branding and integration status of the Business Objects and Crystal offerings,” he says. “Business Objects needs to minimize confusion by focusing on how BusinessObjects XI integrated the two product sets and how Crystal Reports Server XI is a packaging option specially developed to appeal to the SMB market.”

If nothing else, says Schiff, Business Objects appears serious about competing for mid-market customers. For example, he points out, it’s balanced the special pricing of the Crystal Reports Server XI offering with maintenance and educational offerings. “Prospects that were under the impression that Business Objects was abandoning the SMB market should view this initiative as solid evidence to the contrary,” he notes.

At the same time, he says, the Crystal Reports Server XI release augurs well for long-time Crystal customers. “The Crystal installed base should recognize that while Business Objects has integrated Crystal technology with its own, it is continuing to support and evolve this technology without forcing Crystal users into an immediate upgrade to other offerings within the BusinessObjects XI suite."

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About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.