SAP rolling out new entry-level BI analytics

Business Objects Edge 4.0 and Crystal Server 2011, aimed at small and medium-sized companies, will be available in July

SAP will soon roll out Crystal Server 2011 and Business Objects Edge 4.0, a pair of new BI (business intelligence) products aimed at small and medium-sized companies, the company announced Tuesday.

Crystal Server 2011 was formerly named Crystal Reports Server. The change was made because SAP is "really positioning [it] as an entry-level BI platform," and not just something for reports, said Jayne Landry, vice president of solution management, business analytics, and technology.

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The products are scheduled to be generally available in the first few weeks of July, aligned with the release of Business Objects 4.0, the enterprise-level version of SAP's analytics products. This is a change from the past, when Edge's release would come six to eight weeks after the high-end version, Landry said.

Crystal Server 2011 has new features such as the Explorer tool for "drilling down" into data sets as well as an information design tool. It's limited to a single server and 100 named users, according to an SAP document.

The idea is that customers who outgrow products like Crystal Server 2011 can step up to one with more features.

Edge 4.0 takes the Crystal Server feature set and adds others, such as Web Intelligence, mobile BI and integrations to applications such as Oracle E-Business Suite. There is also an Edge edition that adds data-integration tooling and a third that bundles data management software.

All Edge versions are also limited to a single server. For multi-server support, unlimited users and other features, customers would upgrade to Business Objects 4.0.

"No matter where a customer starts, their investment is protected," Landry said.

For one, SAP has created a common user experience across the various products, which could save time and money on training.

In addition, reports and other assets created with earlier versions of Business Objects software will be compatible with the 4.0 releases, Landry said. Customers will have the option of converting those reports into a new format SAP is using. While some features may not carry over after a conversion, users will be alerted to which ones would be affected, and can make a decision accordingly, she said.

Pricing for BusinessObjects Edge starts at $12,000 for 10 named users or $19,000 for five concurrent access licenses. Crystal Server 2011 pricing starts at $2,495 for 5 named users or $6,995 for five concurrent access licenses.

Users are eagerly awaiting the 4.0 releases, judging from a lengthy and long-running thread on the unofficial Business Objects Board.

SAP may have set some false expectations by running a 4.0 launch event in New York back in February, according to one poster.

"It is [a] miscalculation on their part. But technically, they are NOT late if they have never made any official announcement of the release date. All these dates are mostly hearsay on the customers based on the 'guesstimate' they heard from some SAP employees (something they should not do)," the poster wrote.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.

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