Business Objects

Analysis of business intelligence pioneer Business Objects, now a division of SAP AG. Related subjects include:

August 14, 2013

The two sides of BI

As is the case for most important categories of technology, discussions of BI can get confused. I’ve remarked in the past that there are numerous kinds of BI, and that the very origin of the term “business intelligence” can’t even be pinned down to the nearest century. But the most fundamental confusion of all is that business intelligence technology really is two different things, which in simplest terms may be categorized as user interface (UI) and platform* technology. And so:

*I wanted to say “server” or “server-side” instead of “platform”, as I dislike the latter word. But it’s too inaccurate, for example in the case of the original Cognos PowerPlay, and also in various thin-client scenarios.

Key aspects of BI platform technology can include:

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February 26, 2012

SAP HANA today

SAP HANA has gotten much attention, mainly for its potential. I finally got briefed on HANA a few weeks ago. While we didn’t have time for all that much detail, it still might be interesting to talk about where SAP HANA stands today.

The HANA section of SAP’s website is a confusing and sometimes inaccurate mess. But an IBM whitepaper on SAP HANA gives some helpful background.

SAP HANA is positioned as an “appliance”. So far as I can tell, that really means it’s a software product for which there are a variety of emphatically-recommended hardware configurations — Intel-only, from what right now are eight usual-suspect hardware partners. Anyhow, the core of SAP HANA is an in-memory DBMS. Particulars include:

SAP says that the row-store part is based both on P*Time, an acquisition from Korea some time ago, and also on SAP’s own MaxDB. The IBM white paper mentions only the MaxDB aspect. (Edit: Actually, see the comment thread below.) Based on a variety of clues, I conjecture that this was an aspect of SAP HANA development that did not go entirely smoothly.

Other SAP HANA components include:  Read more

February 21, 2012

Third-party analytics

This is one of a series of posts on business intelligence and related analytic technology subjects, keying off the 2011/2012 version of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. The four posts in the series cover:

I’ve written a lot this weekend about various areas of business intelligence and related analytics.  A recurring theme has been what we might call third-party analytics — i.e., anything other than buying analytic technology and deploying it in your own enterprise. Four main areas include:

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February 21, 2012

The 2011/2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms — company-by-company comments

This is one of a series of posts on business intelligence and related analytic technology subjects, keying off the 2011/2012 version of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. The four posts in the series cover:

The heart of Gartner Group’s 2011/2012 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms was the company comments. I shall expound upon some, roughly in declining order of Gartner’s “Completeness of Vision” scores, dubious though those rankings may be.  Read more

February 21, 2012

Business intelligence industry trends

This is one of a series of posts on business intelligence and related analytic technology subjects, keying off the 2011/2012 version of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. The four posts in the series cover:

Besides company-specific comments, the 2011/2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence (BI) Platforms offered observations on overall BI trends in a “Market Overview” section. I have mixed feelings about Gartner’s list. In particular:

Here’s the forest that I suspect Gartner is missing for the trees:

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February 11, 2012

Applications of an analytic kind

The most straightforward approach to the applications business is:

However, this strategy is not as successful in analytics as in the transactional world, for two main reasons:

I first realized all this about a decade ago, after Henry Morris coined the term analytic applications and business intelligence companies thought it was their future. In particular, when Dave Kellogg ran marketing for Business Objects, he rattled off an argument to the effect that Business Objects had generated more analytic app revenue over the lifetime of the company than Cognos had. I retorted, with only mild hyperbole, that the lifetime numbers he was citing amounted to “a bad week for SAP”. Somewhat hoist by his own petard, Dave quickly conceded that he agreed with my skepticism, and we changed the subject accordingly.

Reasons that analytic applications are commonly less complete than the transactional kind include: Read more

January 4, 2012

Some issues in business intelligence

In November I wrote two parts of a planned multi-post series on issues in analytic technology. Then I got caught up in year-end things and didn’t blog for a month. Well … Happy New Year! I’m back. Let’s survey a few BI-related topics.

Mobile business intelligence — real business value or just a snazzy demo?

I discussed some mobile BI use cases in July 2010, but I’m still not convinced the whole area is a legitimate big deal. BI has a long history of snazzy, senior-exec-pleasing demos that have little to do with substantive business value. For now, I think mobile BI is another of those; few people will gain deep analytic insights staring into their iPhones. I don’t see anything coming that’s going to change the situation soon.

BI-centric collaboration — real business value or just a snazzy demo?

I’m more optimistic about collaborative business intelligence. QlikView’s direct sharing of dashboards will, I think, be a feature competitors must and will imitate. Social media BI collaboration is still in the “mainly a demo” phase, but I think it meets a broader and deeper need than does mobile BI. Over the next few years, I expect numerous enterprises to establish strong cultures of analytic chatter (and then give frequent talks about same at industry conferences).   Read more

May 12, 2010

Quick reactions to SAP acquiring Sybase

SAP is acquiring Sybase. On the conference call SAP said Sybase would be run as a separate division of SAP (no surprise). Most of the focus was on Sybase’s mobile technology, which is forecast at >$400 million in 2010 revenues (which would be 30%ish of the total). My quick reactions include: Read more

January 22, 2009

Gartner’s 2009 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence

A few days ago I tore into the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse DBMS.  Well, the 2009 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms is out too.  Unlike the data warehouse MQ, Gartner’s BI MQ clusters its “Leaders” together tightly. But while less bold, the Business Intelligence Magic Quadrant’s claims are just as questionable as those in data warehousing.

February, 2011 edit: Here’s a partial link that works right now.

Of course, some parts do make sense.  E.g.: Read more

January 14, 2008

Intelligent Enterprise’s list of 12/36/48 vendors

I’m getting a flood of press releases today, because many of the companies I write about were selected to Intelligent Enterprise’s list of 12 most influential vendors plus 36 more to watch in the areas Intelligent Enterprise covers (which seems to be pretty much the analytics-related parts of what I write about here and on Text Technologies). It looks like a pretty reasonable list, although I think they forced the issue in some of the small analytics vendors they selected, and of course anybody can quibble with some of the omissions.

Among the companies they cited, you can find topical categories here for IBM (and Cognos), Informatica, Microsoft, Netezza, Oracle, SAP/Business Objects (both), SAS, and Teradata; QlikTech; Cast Iron, Coral8, DATAllegro, HP, ParAccel, and StreamBase; and Software AG. On Text Technologies you’ll find categories for some of the same vendors, plus Attensity, Clarabridge, and Google. There also are categories for some of these vendors on the Monash Report.

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