Hummingbird Communications BI/Suite 6.0

Hummingbird Communications BI/Suite 6.0 is a collection of fully integrated applications that provide businesses with query, reporting, and OLAP (online analytical processing) functionality.

BI/Suite 6.0 supports data that resides in relational databases, data marts, data warehouses, or ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems. Once deployed, BI/Suite will allow users to access and analyze data regardless of physical location or implementation, supporting better and faster business decision-making.

The suite comprises four main tools: BI/Broker (the middle-tier server), BI/Web (a thin client included with BI/Broker), BI/Query (data query and reporting client), and BI/Analyze (OLAP client). However, companies have the choice of whether to roll out the components individually or as a composite application, as well as whether they prefer local (two-tier) or central (n-tier) administration.

Similar to Business Objects’ Broadcast Agent, Hummingbird’s BI/Broker 6.0 makes use of a CORBA-based application server. Utilizing Inprise’s Visigenic ORB (object request broker), each component can make use of the many services of the application server, including its central repository for storing queries, reports, and all other objects used by the BI/Suite.

BI/Broker performs load balancing, license management, scheduling, session management, and connectivity services. Security profiles, ACLs (access control lists), and object qualifiers are maintained centrally at the server, making administration of both users and content less daunting.

A component-based approach means users can purchase and install only those functions of the suite that they require, saving time, money, and disk space. The BI/Query component includes sample data models and graphical representations of an organization’s underlying database structures. Using these models users will be able to create new data models without any SQL coding. To define relationships, add qualifications to the data, or even apply grouping or sorting criteria for output, all users need do is double-click on one of the tables in the data model and select the attributes for changes that should be applied. Using this approach, formulating ad hoc queries requires just a few clicks, and it works with many data sources, including: Oracle, Sybase, Informix, Tandem, and Microsoft.

The tool’s reporting capability uses a wizard named the Presentation Designer. Users will be able to select presentation styles such as tables, charts, maps, and crosstabs, as well as create output in columnar, stacked, pie chart, and three-dimensional formats.

Making accurate decisions often necessitates examination of data from multiple perspectives. BI/ Analyze is an OLAP-based multidimensional analysis tool that lets users drill up and down through successive layers of detail to discover trends, relationships, and patterns. It flexibly supports connectivity to leading multidimensional database management systems including Hyperion’s Essbase, Informix’s MetaCube, IBM’s DB/2 OLAP Server, and Microsoft’s SQL Server 7.0 OLAP Services.

Users will be able to add calculation rules, create cubes from result sets returned from query operations, and even specify whether they want data values to be calculated at access time rather than build time. There is also a connection wizard for creating and editing connections to various data sources.

The mobile OLAP services provide users the ability to perform discovery either in the office or on the road, which can be a great benefit to users who travel frequently. OLAP reports built in the field are coupled with their source data and can be refreshed whenever the user next connects to the application server.

BI/Web 6.0 provides a true thin-client experience for users who connect via a corporate intranet or extranet. Requiring only a Java 1.1-compliant browser, BI/Web lets them access and act on the same queries, data models, reports, and OLAP sources as the desktop implementation did.

The tool uses IIOP (Internet Inter-Orb Protocol) to manage sessions between the client and server, allowing users to maintain persistent connections and thereby realize scalability and performance improvements across the enterprise. Data can be saved in CSV (comma-separated value) format, enabling users to move data to third-party applications with no changes on the target side.

BI/Suite 6.0 is available for Windows NT 4.0 at $30,000 or Solaris 2.6+ at $45,000. For BI/Broker, BI /Query and BI/Analyze the cost is $1,042 per user. Hummingbird Communications of Toronto is at http://www.hummingbird.com.

Prices listed are in Cdn currency.