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Information Builders Summit 2003: WebFOCUS reloaded. (BI News Review).

Information Builders Inc drew an impressive crowd of around 800 users, partners and analysts at its Summit 2003 conference, which kicked off this week in Chicago, Illinois.

To coincide with the eagerly awaited release of the blockbuster film, Matrix Reloaded, co-founder, president and CEO, Gerald Cohen, made a dramatic "Morpheus-like" entrance on stage, and went on to articulate his vision of 'Information Now' and the technology behind what he called "true Enterprise BI [Business Intelligence]".

Cohen's keynote was dominated by technology, specifically focusing on the latest release of WebFOCUS 5, the company's flagship query, reporting and analysis platform. "WebFOCUS 5 is all about helping users to build complex reports quickly, and make these reports flexible to manage" Cohen said " It [WebFOCUS 5] will have something for developers, administrators and power users alike".

The new WebFOCUS platform is currently being rolled out in two parts. The first part of the new release--WebFOCUS 5.2, formally launched last month--focuses on delivering over 440 new functional improvements, most of which are focused on the platform's report development and administration environment--specifically the Report Server and Development Studio components. Cohen highlighted support for Microsoft's .NET environment for developers. "All of WebFOCUS is now callable via an API through .NET Web services," he said. Cohen went on to showcase a new "Update Assist" wizard capability in Development Studio for enhanced data inputting, and a new "Pagemaker-like" graphical report layout tool for easy assembly of multiple report objects on a Web page. Other functionality improvements focus on user administration capabilities, the dashboard portal, ad hoc and OLAP analysis, and WebFOCUS's ETL/data warehousing tools.

Dan Ortalani, vice president of WebFOCUS's product division, also detailed several interim (5.2.x) releases throughout 2003, which he said would "add continuous customer-driven improvements". Ortalani said a forthcoming 5.2.3 release, slated for July of this year, will add support for Netscape, enhanced 'managed reporting', new graphical templates, dynamic data visualizations and integration with ESRI Inc's ArcIMS mapping environment. Ortalini also added that version 5.2.4, due in September, would deliver ad-hoc and OLAP analysis functionality.

The second part of the release--WebFOCUS 5.5, due to ship in July this year--will center on scalability, manageability and reliability issues. Information Builders has always prided itself on its ability to scale upwards. Having successfully mastered the challenges of creating large-scale information transparency, Cohen pointed to an increasing trend among its customer base to deploy large number of applications on WebFOCUS. "We have several companies with 100 or more production applications up and running today," Cohen said.

Version 5.5 is a server-based release that will feature a new cluster load manager (CLM) for multiple Report Server environments, which offers balancing capabilities for servers and query processing. CLM effectively represents the technical manifestation of 'autonomic computing', a notion popularized by IBM as a self-regulating, adjusting and healing computer system, much in the same way that human biological nervous systems regulates the body.
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Publication:MarketWatch: Business Intelligence
Date:Jun 19, 2003
Words:490
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