Decision support tool companies are jockeying for position in an effort to become the front end of choice for Microsoft's upcoming online analytical processing (OLAP) server, code-name Plato.
Companies such as Seagate Software, Cognos, and Arbor are marketing their desktop products as front-end analysis tools for Plato. But they will all have to compete with a venerable competitor - Microsoft itself, which is pitching its Excel spreadsheet as a Plato front end.
Plato is scheduled to be released as part of Microsoft's SQL Server 7.0 database by year's end.
Seagate's trump card in the battle is its decision to unbundle the Seagate Worksheet analysis component of its Crystal Info reporting package and offer it free as a front-end for Plato and other servers compliant with the OLE DB for OLAP standard.
"We believe [Seagate Worksheet] is commodity software and so it should be free," Kathryn Hartman, Seagate's marketing manager for Australia and New Zealand, said. "We can do this because we've been able to identify where the value-add is and separate that out."
While Seagate Worksheet will fulfil basic analysis requirements for OLAP solutions, the "value-add" Hartman refers to is vested in Seagate's business intelligence and application delivery products, Crystal Info and Seagate Holos.
The company plans to leverage Seagate Worksheet to migrate its customers to these solutions as their business intelligence needs become more complex. It's no surprise, then, that Seagate piggybacked the recent unbundling announcement with the release of Seagate Holos 7.
Several key enhancements have been incorporated into the latest version of Seagate's development environment for analytical applications. They include the ability to combine proprietary OLAP stores into one application; improved connectivity with SAP applications; and added resource and performance management functionality.
Seagate Holos 7 is available now on the Unix, Windows NT and Macintosh platforms.
A beta version of Seagate Worksheet is currently downloadable from the company's Web site (www.seagatesoftware.com), with the final version expected later this quarter.
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