BACKGROUND: 4Front Technologies, Inc. is a NASDAQ-listed leading provider of information technology solutions, which consist of specialized computer software and services, primarily to blue-chip corporations in the United Kingdom and Europe. 4Front's services include hardware maintenance, help desk support, network services, specialized software services and products, and the supply of high-end storage systems.
PLATFORMS: DbLive@Web runs on Windows NT with MS IIS 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 or Netscape Enterprise or FastTrack. The client requires an MS Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator (versions 3.0, 4.0) browser and operates out of the box without using any plug- ins, Java applets or client-side cookies. DbLive@Web can connect to and query any ODBC-compliant database including Microsoft SQL Server, Access and Excel; Oracle7 & 8; Sybase; Informix; CA Open Ingres; and DB2; as well as any packaged application data using ODBC drivers.
PROBLEM SOLVED: DbLive@Web has been used by 4Front and its customers to solve diverse information delivery problems. These range from preformatted and ad hoc queries for large numbers of users over a company intranet (business performance, financial and management reporting) to extranet applications for sales force automation, customer relationship marketing and customer service management.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With DbLive@Web you can quickly and easily connect to ODBC data sources and centrally define "data views" to hide the database schema and its complexities from end users. Data views are linked to groups of users defined via the comprehensive and flexible security controlling user's rights and privileges to data and functionality in DbLive@Web. Queries, reports and charts can then be created through a user-friendly point-and- click interface using wizards and context sensitive on-line help. Using the built-in Web page design facility, reports and charts can be placed on a series of customized Web pages targeted at particular groups of users. Users access reports and pages either via traditional menus or through hyperlinks from a designated "start page" or the organization's intranet. DbLive@Web also offers personalization capabilities, push reporting via e-mail, as well as supporting MS Excel integration with WebQuery and data export options for spreadsheet analysis and modeling.
STRENGTHS: DbLive@Web is particularly suited to applications requiring comprehensive security and/or access to data over low- bandwidth networks or dial-up lines. It does not require any applets to be downloaded and does not rely on browser "cookies" for additional security. The key ability DbLive@Web offers is to quickly and inexpensivly provide a means of delivering segmented, targeted live information to a wide range of users via a flexible range of easy-to-use delivery mechanisms. This adds up to reduced development, training and support costs while expanding access to information securely across and beyond the organization. Deployment is fast and particularly cost effective for a large number of users or users at remote locations with no software to load on the client other than a standard browser. The addition of browser-based data entry offers another option to an already flexible tool.
WEAKNESSES: DbLive@Web offers a solution for the delivery of database information to the bulk of an organization's users. More specialized analytical tools may be needed for some power users.
SELECTION CRITERIA: DbLive@Web was selected for its unique combination of decision support functionality with flexible information delivery options and comprehensive security via an open browser-based architecture. Database-driven applications can be rapidly built at low cost, Web-enabling existing data sources without the need to invest in CGI, SQL and HTML skills. DbLive@Web provided the ideal combination of centralized management and security with powerful functionality and ease of use.
DELIVERABLES: DbLive@Web is ideal for building extranet and intranet applications and providing enterprise-wide and remote access to any corporate database-driven information contained in transactional, data warehouse or third-party application databases. Browser-based data entry increases the flexibility of the tool for occasional or mobile workers.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Reseller and partner support services are backed by MaxSol which offers telephone and e-mail support and a sophisticated forum for their user community.
DOCUMENTATION: A context-sensitive on- line help system provides immediate answers to product functionality. The help screens are usefully cross-referenced separately for novices, power users and administrators.
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