Crystal Decisions partners its way into hosted BI fray

Crystal Decisions Inc., once known as Seagate Software Inc., on Monday joined the incipient market for hosted analysis tools, by way of partnerships.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based BI (business intelligence) vendor cooked up a baker's dozen worth of deals with various service providers. The collective goal is to provide ASPs (application service providers) with its analysis, reporting, and information delivery functionality. The ASPs include, among others, Perot Systems Corp., M2 Consulting, TriZetto Group, World Technology Services, and GlobalNet/HKG.

"We're aiming to give customers a bigger, broader view of the company," said Doran Aisenstat, Seagate's director of ASP alliances. "We see ASPs as another way for customers to be able to use our tools."

Interest in ASP-style BI tools is growing, albeit slowly. A survey from Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC showed less than 5 percent of respondents were currently outsourcing data warehouses and the associated data-mining and analysis tools.

"For analytic applications, it's still early in the ASP market," said Dan Vesset, an analyst at International Data Corp. Vesset continued that significantly more than 5 percent of respondents said they would consider outsourcing BI in the future.

Big-name analytics vendors such as SAS Institute Inc., IBM Corp., and Oracle Corp. have also started down the road toward hosted offerings. And a number of niche BI ASPs have cropped up in the last year, including White Cross, Digimine Inc., Accrue Software Inc., WebTrends Corp., and MatchLogic.

On the packaged software front, Crystal Decisions said its Crystal Analysis Professional will be available this month.