PowerPlay continues evolution

The new PowerPlay Enterprise Server from Cognos Inc. builds on the foundation provided by the existing PowerPlay Web Edition, through the addition of several deployment options.

“We’ve taken that (PowerPlay Web Edition) architecture which is absolutely proven and in production and we’ve extended it to support Windows applications and mobile users,” said Tom Camps, director of product marketing for Burlington, Mass.-based Cognos.

PowerPlay Enterprise Server is the third step in a four-phase product strategy. In July 1998, Cognos introduced a scalable server architecture with PowerPlay Server Web Edition 6.0 for mass deployment of OLAP exploration and analysis across the Web. Phase two introduced features to Version 6.0 that were geared towards OLAP reporting and report authoring.

Now, with PowerPlay Enterprise Server, Cognos has established a server-based architecture as the foundation for future releases, which will include a Web-based managed reporting solution scheduled for mid-1999.

Currently in customer testing, PowerPlay Enterprise Server offers several deployment options. These include: zero-footprint browser-based access to PowerPlay Enterprise Server for maximum deployability and interactivity within a pure HTML OLAP solution; a thin-client for Windows that offers deployment from the centralized server for lower total cost of ownership; and a personal server option that works with the Windows client, enabling mobile users to access cubes and gain necessary OLAP functionality.

According to David Schultz, vice-president of the personnel division at Charlotte, N.C.-based Nations Bank, which is currently testing the PowerPlay Enterprise Server, such deployment options will provide greater functionality.

“Using their proprietary API, we can use the client/server or thin-client version of the PowerPlay front end which is much more robust than a browser front end, or use an Excel front…which allows the users to have a much greater depth of analysis capabilities than what was available through the prior Web browser,” Schultz said.

Designed to minimize network traffic, PowerPlay Enterprise Server can be pointed at one or more multi-dimensional cubes and deliver instant OLAP reporting for mainstream business users.

This is advantageous for employees who require quick analysis capabilities, said Jacqueline Sweeney, senior analyst for International Data Corp. (IDC) in Framingham, Mass.

“They’ll be able to get access to information more quickly and more readily. Instead of waiting for someone to deliver reports and analysis, they will be able to do their own. It’s going to speed decision making,” she said.

To facilitate deployment, PowerPlay Enterprise Server also provides centralized management for updates of client software and automated cube synchronization for mobile users.

According to Nations Bank’s Schultz, it will no longer be necessary to move cubes to a separate application server for user access. “Now we can actually put them into a different portion on the same server that created the cube and have folks go directly to those cubes without having to move them anywhere,” he said.

PowerPlay Enterprise Server uses existing PowerPlay reports and multi-dimensional, as well as third-party, data cubes.

PowerPlay Enterprise Server is scheduled for release by February 1999. Pricing was unavailable at press time.

Cognos in Ottawa is at (613) 738-1440.