Business Objects updates suite with Crystal integration

Business Objects SA released an upgraded version of its “business intelligence” software suite Tuesday, featuring deeper integration with the reporting tools it picked up last year through its acquisition of Crystal Decisions Inc.

Business Objects 6.5 completes the front-end integration of Business Objects’ software with Crystal Decisions’, bringing to the two platforms a consistent user interface. Further back-end integration will happen in an update due out later this year, according to product marketing manager James Thomas.

The 6.5 release also features server-optimization and enhanced caching features to improve scalability, and improved Web reporting tools. The goal is to give a broader set of corporate users access to report customization and analysis tools, Thomas said.

“We see in our customer base a trend toward expanding the size of the deployment, so we want to provide for people with less sophisticated skills,” he said.

Customer Jonathan Rothman, director of data management for Emergency Medical Associates (EMA), a Livingston, N.J. staffing group of emergency physicians, said he’s happy with the new integration features. EMA has used Business Objects for performance management for several years, and added Crystal Decisions for reporting to its infrastructure last year, before the acquisition was announced.

“The beautiful thing now about the integration between the two tool sets and companies is that we can take advantage of the infrastructure we’ve built to publish reports developed in Crystal to our Business Objects dashboards,” Rothman said.

EMA uses BusinessObjects Application Foundation atop a custom patient-tracking system it built in-house. Rothman now has 25 supervisory physicians using the analytics tool, and expects to increase that number to 60 by the end of the year. Deploying the new integration capabilities was straightforward, and the interface works well for end users, he said.

Business Objects 6.5 is available now on Windows and Solaris, and will be available for HP-UX and AIX later this year. By next year, Business Objects plans to support Linux throughout its entire product line, Thomas said.

The update is be available worldwide at no cost to customers on maintenance plans. For new customers, Business Objects prices vary widely depending on the licensing plan selected, executives said. Options include per-user, per-server, or per-concurrent-user pricing.

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