Product Review: Wired for OLAP lets your users hit the road

Whether today's business executives find themselves behind or before the corporate firewall, they demand real-time access to corporate decision-support applications, such as online analytical processing (OLAP) tools. However, providing this level of access creates a host of difficult issues for IT managers. Information from OLAP data sources distributed via static reports or HTML pages requires frequent updating, while providing real-time access to data sources might open up a Pandora's box of security concerns as well as creating application training and support issues.

Appsource addresses the needs of both the information consumer and the IT manager with Wired for OLAP 4.0.3. Both the Windows and Web clients give users real-time access to OLAP data and let users configure changes and customise reports without having to do any publishing or HTML coding.

Real-time access to data will help your users make better decisions, and they won't have to wait for updated reports. Once you've set up the Wired Application Server, adding Web clients is relatively inexpensive.

Wired for OLAP stores user-configuration, report-design, and other application-specific information in the Wired repository, which consists of Paradox relational database tables. These tables can also be hosted on any of the database platforms compatible with Wired for OLAP. This allows the Wired repository to grow with your enterprise, limited only by the scalability of your database system. Further, because all user configuration data is stored in the repository, users are presented with the same configuration whether accessing Wired for OLAP in the office or from home.

Wired for OLAP's view-design tool, available in the Wired Analyzer, provides three types of views: reports, graphs, and pinboard.

Once a report is created in the Wired Analyzer, it becomes available to all of the Wired for OLAP clients, whether Windows- or Web-based. The latter access the application with either the Web Viewer or Web Interactive add-on. As the names imply, the Viewer provides view-only access, while the Interactive addition provides much of the same design functionality available in the Wired Analyzer for Windows.

Because the Wired for OLAP Windows and Web client interfaces are nearly identical, moving between the two environments should cause few problems. This can help to reduce training expenses.

Wired for OLAP provides more flexible client options than competitor Cognos' Power Play product. However, with the per-seat client licences varying in price from $US100 for the Web Viewer to $1000 for the Wired Analyzer Professional Edition, you'll need to carefully analyse which users require what functionality.

The Wired Application Server provides the Web clients with database connectivity and security and also offers tools for measuring traffic on the application server.

Selecting the correct OLAP reporting tool for your enterprise requires analysis of many factors. Wired for OLAP's multiple-client options provide a highly flexible deployment model, while users will appreciate the ease of using both the Windows and Web clients.

Chad Hammond is a systems integrator and project manager for LeadTrack Systems, a sales-force automation consulting company in San Mateo, California.

The bottom line: very good

Wired for OLAP 4.0.3

Summary: This easy-to-use OLAP reporting tool provides information consumers with access to OLAP data sources via Windows- or Web-based clients. It also has the scalability you need to grow with your business.

Business Case: Wired for OLAP will increase the value of your data by keeping it up-to-date and accessible. Its simplicity will spare your IS staff publishing and coding duties.

Pros

+ Flexible enterprise-deployment options+ Highly functional Web clientsCons- Client licensing structure requires careful planning to minimise costs and maximise usabilityPlatforms: Wired Analyzer: Windows 95/98, Windows NT; Server: Windows NT; Web clients: Java Development Kit 1.1-compatible browser.

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