Brio Enterprise brings data to the Web

Brio Enterprise brings data to the Web

You might think the more data you have, the more information you can extract from it. But if you cannot keep on top of the stream of data flowing through your company, you will drown in it -- or at least be swept downstream. A distinct competitive advantage exists for the company that can derive meaning from its data warehouse to make informed, timely decisions.

Brio Enterprise 5.5 is a suite of decision-support products that are designed to build enterprise business intelligence. It provides users with access to the information they need by delivering interactive, online analytical processing, query, and reporting capabilities.

The Brio Enterprise suite comprises the Brio Enterprise server, the client/server clients, and the Web/intranet clients. The OnDemand Servergives the Web clients their power, but it is the Web that provides the connectivity to the server. And the proliferation of company intranets and Web browser usage means these tools are already in the hands of most users.

Server and Web client team up

The two server components are the Broadcast Server and the OnDemand Server. These server components offer "push" and "pull" technologies for centralised report processing and distribution.

The OnDemand Server is an application server that works in conjunction with the Brio.Insight Web client. This client is a plug-in to your existing browser and provides adaptive reporting capabilities. The Brio.Insight plug-in sends requests to the OnDemand Server, which processes the data and returns the results to the plug-in.

The OnDemand Server works with existing relational databases, and it continually updates and refreshes data stored in reports, graphs, or files. This is what gives the plug-in the capability to view data dynamically, in real time.

The Broadcast Server runs queries and sends, or "pushes", the results to reports using e-mail, ftp, the Web, or any network printer. Another browser extension is Brio.Quickview. It provides more functionality than standard HTML, which makes viewing reports more interactive.

The combination of these tools provides users with the flexibility to extract needed information from company databases. And as the data changes, so do the reports.

Quick installation, slow adoption

To run Brio Enterprise on an NT Server, you will need administrative privileges. You will also need to ensure the server is running a Web server, such as Microsoft's Internet Information Server or Netscape's FastTrack. Because Brio Enterprise consists of several components, the different pieces must be purchased separately. When you purchase a component you receive an installation key that activates the software.

The first time you set up the program, you must supply information to connect the OnDemand Server to your Web server and to your database. You must also install the Administrator software which can be run directly from the NT server or from a remote workstation.

Effective testing of Brio Enterprise cannot be done in a lab environment so I installed it on the network of a sales and business training company. It was chosen because it deals with a large amount of raw data which its marketing department tries to make sense of.

Steep learning curve

I installed the product and the company had one week to try it out. The comments were overwhelmingly the same: it seemed like a great tool, but the learning curve was too great. Not only would this kind of application require a mandate from the company president that the company uses it, but training on how to use it would be critical.

However, the few who spent time familiarising themselves with the software came to appreciate the flexibility and power it offers.

Because Brio is designed to work via the Internet or your company intranet, data can easily be made available to users whether they are local or remote. Also, you can adjust the functionality of the reports to match the information requirements of the intended recipients.

Brio Enterprise is a powerful tool designed to empower the user to derive meaning from mountains of data. Although using the product effectively requires overcoming a significant learning hump, the Brio Enterprise suite is a great solution for those feeling constrained and limited by existing database query tools.

Brio Enterprise 5.5

Brio Enterprise is an enterprise-scale data query and reporting tool for business intelligence. It allows Web browsers to initiate advanced data queries but takes time for users to learnPros: Lets users view data at the level they require; supports many server platforms and any client with a Web browserCons: Significant learning curvePlatforms: Servers: Windows NT, most Unix varieties including Solaris Sparc, Solaris X86, HP-UX, AIXClients: Any OS with a browser that supports Internet Server API, Netscape Server API, or CGI scripting languagePrice: Pricing varies according to components purchased but the total solution carries estimated street pricing as follows: Brio Enterprise 5.5, NT version, $44.995; Sun Solaris version, $64,275. Components may also be purchased separatelyBrio TechnologyTel (02) 9964 9533Fax (02) 9964

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