Q:

We have implemented a data warehouse and we use OLAP (Essbase) and MS Access to query the data in the warehouse. We need a more powerful version of these two tools combined whereby we can do graphing, drill down, ad hoc querying, pivoting, trending, data mining and scheduled distribution. Is there any specific tool or a suite of tools that I could possibly look into to satisfy these high-level requirements?

A:

Les Barbusinski’s Answer: You may want to look into either the MicroStrategy or Business Objects tool suites. Both offer browser- based report distribution, data mining functionality, alerts and a wide array of other features. Of the two, MicroStrategy is a little more complex, but also more feature rich and much more powerful. (You can, for example, do market basket analysis in a single query). Business Objects, on the other hand, is a little easier to get up and running.

You may also want to explore the new BI offering from Informatica. Although I haven’t yet had an opportunity to use it in a production implementation, I’ve been very impressed by the demos I’ve seen. It looks like they’ve imbued the product with the best features of every other BI tool on the market.

Doug Hackney’s Answer: There’s nothing available from Microsoft at this time to meet these very common needs. You’ll need to turn to the BI tool suite vendors, such as Business Object, Cognos, Brio, Crystal, etc.

Chuck Kelley’s Answer: Essbase can do a lot of what you are requesting. The best tool is the one that the user community believes will help them with the work. Get your user community involved in the decision process. Tools such as Brio, Business Objects, Cognos, Actuate provide some degree of graphing, drill down, ad hoc, pivoting and trending. Data mining (depending on your definition) will be a different set of products. Look at the DMReview.com site for a list of tools and the genre that they fit it. Then have demos of the products to the user community and start the process of selection.

Joe Oates’ Answer: The answer to your question has a lot to do with the size computer and operating system that is available to you. From the reference to MS Access, I am inferring that you are limited to a Window 2000 or NT server and that you do not have large volumes of data. I have seen successful data warehouses (really data marts) built on these types of servers using MS SQL Server, Sybase ASE and IQ, and IBM’s UDB. As for the query tool, Business Objects, Cognos and MicroStrategy are the ones that I run across most often. Of course your budget will have a determining influence on which you choose.

Clay Rehm’s Answer: There are many BI tools in the marketplace that will meet your requirements; the challenge is finding the right one. Tools such as Business Objects, Microstrategy, Cognos, Brio, Crystal, etc are worth looking at; however, this is only a partial list.

Please include some of your users in the research and testing of the tools. Since they will be the ones using it and developing reports in it, they may have specific functionally requirements they are looking for.

Scott Howard’s Answer: Any query or multidimensional analysis tool that supports the Essbase API, not SQL, can be used. Some popular tools to consider are Business Objects, MicroStrategy, and Brio Query.

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