Brio, Alphablox extend BI capabilities

Several new business intelligence options are emerging this month for IT departments, including announcements this week from Alphablox and Brio Software.

On Monday, Brio at its user group in Las Vegas discussed plans to revamp itself into a provider of business performance solutions, which CEO Craig Brennan calls the next generation of BI.

The new face of Brio will emerge through two major product categories: the Brio Performance Suite, which includes query and analysis, reporting, and a portal, and Brio Performance applications, which are analytical applications.

"We've been doing these things for a long time, and now we're pulling them together and componentizing them," said Brian Gentile, chief marketing officer at Brio, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Brennan likens the move to the convergence from point products to packaged applications that took place in the ERP space several years ago. Indeed, Brio is not the first BI company to wrap its product line into a suite or to release niche-focus analytical applications. Business Objects, Cognos, Alphablox, MicroStrategy, Informatica, and Information Builders offer packages, whether they call them suites or platforms.

"We're seeing a lot of people that want the bigger solutions instead of the tools to build and deploy it themselves," said Mike Schiff, vice president of BI and e-business at Current Analysis, in Sterling, Va. "Overall, it is a very reasonable approach."

Alphablox 4

Also on Monday, Alphablox will announce a beta version of Alphablox 4, the latest version of its BI platform. For this version, Alphablox partnered with IBM and BEA to extend the reach of analytics through application servers, according to Susan Kane, Mountain View, Calif.-based Alphablox' chief marketing officer.

SAP last week inked a pact to integrate Crystal Decisions reporting software into the next version of its Business Information Warehouse, BW 3.0, due in the second half of next year. The integration will help companies more easily access and deliver reports, officials said.

Despite the integration efforts of both traditional BI vendors and the enterprise application vendors, Schiff said that packaged BI solutions are not the end-all-be-all for customers. "There are always integration issues. You've still got to integrate with your existing systems and your own files."

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More about Alphablox AustralasiaBEABRIOBrio SoftwareCognosCrystal DecisionsIBM AustraliaInformaticaInformation BuildersMicrostrategy AustraliaSAP Australia

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