Actuate ships spreadsheet server

Actuate on Monday made what it calls a "spreadsheet server" generally available.

The software, officially dubbed e.Spreadsheet Server, allows customers to send out BI (business intelligence) reports in Excel format. Users that receive such reports can manipulate the data as they would any Excel document, according to Mike Thoma, South San Francisco, California-based Actuate's vice president of marketing strategy.

Mark Smith, president of analyst firm Full Circle Strategies, in Truckee, California, said that large enterprises struggle with BI reporting, particularly when it comes to managing spreadsheets and maintaining consistent information for everyone in the organization to access.

A report by Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said that 60 percent of surveyed executives receive reports in actual Excel spreadsheets. Thoma said that testifies to the usefulness of Excel as a business tool, and the need for a spreadsheet server that delivers Excel files.

Smith said that Actuate is the only company currently offering a spreadsheet server. "The only ones that can come after it in a broad deployed fashion would be Brio Technology Inc., Crystal Decisions Inc. and Information Builders Inc.," he added.

He continued that Information Builders, for instance, has a two way e-mail option that can be used to bring up URL links to source reports.

In addition to Actuate's e.Spreadsheet Server, the company released e.Spreadsheet Designer, which enables report developers to build templates for specifying the data and formatting of the Excel spreadsheets, and e.Reporting Option, which enables users to deploy reports created in Actuate's e.Report Designer Professional.

Actuate's e.Spreadsheet Server is part of its Actuate 5 information delivery platform. The server platform also can be used to a variety of data sources within the enterprise, Thoma said.

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