Information Builders details Web services strategy

Information Builders Inc. on May 21 at its Information Builder Summit 2002 conference will reveal that its WebFocus business intelligence tool is being fitted with Web services support.

The company will enable the publication of WebFocus applications through WSDL (Web services description language) interfaces, said Bob Ferrante, technical director at New York-based Information Builders. Users also will be able to deploy services from UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration) registries and tie them together, according to the company.

WebFocus is a business intelligence product that delivers information from heterogeneous data sources. Information can be delivered via Web formats.

“What we’re offering is giving the enterprise, which typically has many, many different groups developing information applications, the ability to mix and match their offerings internally, inside a company, to be able to add value to what they’re doing,” Ferrante said.

As an example, a human resources department could take an application for analysing staff departures and link it via Web services to an application that gauges the success of staff training, the company said.

The company explained that Web services support would enable WebFocus customers to strengthen business relationships through improved communication and dynamic information exchange both inside and outside of an enterprise.

Web services support will be provided in WebFocus in stages across several product releases in 2002, the company said.

An analyst said Information Builders was on the right track with adding Web services support to WebFocus.

“It’s important for them to expose APIs so that [services] can be controlled from other Web applications, so you can build some kind of a complicated business-to-business site that as part of its functionality involves reporting,” said analyst David Folger, vice-president of Web and collaboration strategies at Meta Group Inc., in Pleasanton, Calif.

For example, a user could get data from a report server and integrate analytical information from multiple companies, Folger said.

“I think all the business intelligence players will get around to doing [this integration] eventually. It’s good that Information Builders is jumping on this fairly early in the process,” Folger said.