Business Objects upgrades integration platform

Business Objects SA has unveiled the latest version of its data integration tool, designed to conquer the Holy Grail of business intelligence: integrating data from disparate systems in real time so that it can be leveraged to affect company operations.

The new Data Integrator 6.0, first launched when Business Objects acquired Acta Technology Inc. in August, combines ETL (extraction, transformation, and loading) with BI ( business intelligence) capabilities to offer the full scope of BI including extraction, query and reporting, and analytic applications, according to company officials.

BI vendors increasingly are ramping up real-time data integration offerings as part of an effort to bolster data drawn from transactional systems, such as ERP from mere static reports to more dynamic data sources such as dashboards that can be used by executives to make operational decisions.

BI vendor Sagent unveiled an offering late last year designed to provide real-time integration by combining external information on the fly with data from a data warehouse. That view can be called from within reporting tools and spreadsheets. Meanwhile, Informatica has teamed with Enterprise Application Integration vendor webMethods to offer seamless connectivity between webMethods’ integration platform and Informatica’s data integration platform and analytic applications.

Business Objects’ new version of its Data Integrator provides enterprises with easier access to metadata management across the BI platform while boasting the latest in real-time data access, according to Denise Sawicki, senior product marketing manager of San Jose, Calif.-based Business Objects.

“We really have with our two products a very seamles way of managing Business Objects tools from within Data Integrator,” she said.

In addition, its third-generation real-time architecture is designed to deliver up-to-the-second information to management dashboards and analytic applications to enable users to make business decisions. The new version is designed to detect changes at the transaction or source database level to then automatically send XML alert messages to the Business Objects Application Foundation, thus providing a complete data connection across the BI platform, Sawicki added.

It also supports complex workflow processing that allows for complicated data structures while combining support for Web services standards such as XML, SOAP, and WSDL.

“We become the only vendor to be able to pick up real-time changes from a number of systems and flow that data all the way down to the end-users,” Sawicki said. “Any time a critical thing happens in the source data, and there is somebody downstream that needs to take an action, they get the data in much fewer steps and much quicker.”

The new version also is designed to allow enterprise to manage their metadata much easier, thus speeding the time to delivery of the end-user reporting solution and also reducing maintenance costs, according to Sawicki. By pushing a button, data analysts can create and update Business Objects universes, the semantic layer that presents a graphical business representation of underlying structures. As a result, users are insulated from underlying changes in source data by their ETL tool, eliminating the need to re-create scores of reports after the data is reorganized.

The new universe creation capability will significantly speed the time to deployment of the first iteration of the business intelligence solution, while helping to prove the value of BI to end-users at a very early stage, said Peter Siegel, principal at Sense Corp., a St. Louis-based IT consultancy and beta user.

The company now will be able to show reports to users near the beginning of the deployment process, aiding it in refining the data organization and in getting a speedy BI rollout, Siegel added.