BrioQuery boosts business intelligence

BrioQuery boosts business intelligence

If you are looking to leverage the power and versa- tility of a business intelligence tool, but do not want to buy a suite of products with questionable integration, then you should consider Brio Technology's BrioQuery 6.0.

Now in a late beta stage, BrioQuery should be available to Australian customers in mid-July, boasting numerous additions and enhancements. The replacement of its former proprietary scripting language with the popular JavaScript for expression building and application control is but one of the many new faces added to this tool. With a new report writer, new interface, and the capability to predefine a specific drill path, BrioQuery stiffens its competition versus Cognos' PowerPlay, and Business Object's BusinessObject.

BrioQuery's easy-to-use interface makes learning the tool a breeze. It also offers the advantage of a well-integrated, single product that is adept at querying, reporting, and online analytical processing (OLAP) analysis. BrioQuery suffered from typical beta glitches such as missing help files and a quirky installation, but I feel confident that its overall quality will shine through before it ships.

The new graphical interface has been modernised and enhanced to follow both the Microsoft Office 2000 look and feel, as well as browser-influenced navigation, for a familiar desktop experience. Add a streamlined method for content creation via dragging information from a catalogue pane into the content pane, and the fact that the tool requires no programming or SQL knowledge, and you have a very powerful, very easy-to-use tool.

You'll find the essence of BrioQuery 6.0 in three desktop clients: Designer, Explorer, and Navigator. The Designer client, built for administrators, provides full query, analysis, and reporting functionality, in addition to all administrative functions such as security, auditing, and repository setup. The Explorer, although limited only in its administrative capabilities, is no less powerful. Designed for the power user, the tool allows its users to create their own data models as well as leverage the efforts of others via direct access to the database tables and repository of predefined data models and reports. The Navigator, specifically for the ordinary user, provides unlimited analysis and reporting from predefined data models. In sum, this tool ensures that all of your users will be able to create and deliver actionable information with minimal assistance in a well-managed environment.

BrioQuery expands support for multidimensional databases, with native support for Microsoft's SQL Server 7.0 OLAP Services, IBM's DB2 for OLAP, Hyperion's Essbase, and Informix's MetaCube.

Fine connections

I found the tool very intuitive and quickly progressed to defining complex queries. I was able to almost effortlessly create a document with a new database connection. I then chose ODBC as a connection method as well as the type of database I would eventually connect to. Moving to the catalogue pane, I selected tables and their elements by just dragging them into the content pane.

To further analyse or query my information, I needed only to drag the elements to the request line at the top of the window.

One feature I found noteworthy was the capability to perform complete offline analysis and reporting. To serve virtual offices and the mobile workforce, Brio has pioneered a powerful, yet portable OLAP engine that generates dynamic "data cubes", which are optimised for both memory and performance.

The data cubes are then stored within a document that you can work on offline or send via e-mail, file server, or the Web to others. Even more impressive was that your recipients could not only view the work, but they could also create new analyses and reports from it. Lastly, the files you create using the client/server version of BrioQuery are fully compatible with the Web version.

If you want an integrated business intelligence tool that your users will find easy to use, then BrioQuery 6.0 is worth a look.

The bottom line

BrioQuery 6.0, beta

Summary: If your organisation needs a set of business intelligence tools that offers the capability to create and deliver actionable information with relative ease for both casual users and data analysts, consider Brio Technologies' BrioQuery 6.0. With its new look and feel, as well as an impressive list of features, it will be worth its users' time and interest.

Business Case: BrioQuery 6.0 is an excellent choice for companies that wish to maintain an integrated approach to querying, reporting, and conducting OLAP analysis. With this tool's new easy-to-use interface and a practically nonexistent learning period, IT sites can garner long-term cost savings through tool reductions and increased productivity.

Pros: Easy-to-use Microsoft Office 2000 look and feelSmall memory and disk footprintCapability to perform complex analysis and reporting offlineNon-proprietary scripting language (JavaScript)Cons: Beta product still has a few bugsCost: $6995 for Designer version; $1760 for Explorer and Navigator versions.

Platforms: Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000; Mac OS; Unix.

Ship date: Mid-July.

Brio Technology

(02) 9964 9533

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