Business Objects to sell Linux support for BI

Business intelligence and analytics vendor Business Objects has revealed it will offer Linux support for its new Enterprise6 (E6) software suite.

The move is a sign that major enterprises remain largely unfazed by the open source code intellectual property circus - and will continue their uptake of Linux.

Addressing around 300 of the company's key Australian clients, (including those recently acquired through the purchase of Crystal Decisions), Chris Caren, vice president of corporate product marketing at Business Objects, said demand from customers was the reason behind the its open source offering.

"It's very customer driven; we got that feedback at our meetings when we were designing the next product roadmap. Twenty five per cent of our largest [top 100] customers say they will deploy to Linux in the near term, if it is available. These are not small companies," Caren said.

Although no formal time frame is yet in place, Computerworld understands that Business Objects hopes to have an offering to market sometime around the middle of 2004.

Unwilling to comment on the current legal situation between SCO and Linux vendors, Caren said the decision on support was based on being pragmatic, on dealing with real-world commercial demands of large enterprise customers rather than on any ideological concept.

"[Linux] interests the general business population. It's on the front or second page of the Wall Street Journal. You would have thought that banks were the most conservative on this…but [instead] you have the CIO of Morgan Stanley saying when a Linux box breaks, they just throw it out and replace it because it's that cheap," Caren said, adding that Australian customers had greeted the revelation "with smiles".

Meanwhile, Business Objects' move to diversify its offering to customers will see it enter into the data integration space, enabling it to design and build the data warehouses its software currently drills into in an initiative dubbed ETL - for extract/transform/load.

The new offering is spruiked as the ability to grab data generated by applications on the likes of PeopleSoft, SAP or Siebel and push it through Business Objects' performance dashboards and scorecards to allow near real-time tracking on enterprise.

E6 is also being touted as the first, fully Web-enabled, integrated and standardised business intelligence solution and as such forms the company's first consolidated offering since the analytics heavyweight swallowed Crystal Decisions this July and Acta Technologies in August 2002.

Product manager for Cognos, Alun Woolley told Computerworld that his company had also ported its software to Linux "in the lab", but was waiting for demand to increase before taking a Linux offering to market.

"The demand isn't huge yet, but it is inevitable. It's a matter of when it comes through in the applications [and] will probably happen in the next year or two. There's always a cost associated with supporting a new platform [before it has local customers]."

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