Essbase 7X brings interactive BI to BPM
New HVE client offers analysts enhanced control over business dataFollow @infoworld
For some 30 years, companies have envisioned arming executives with sets of diverse tools to easily define business objectives and view their ongoing progress. Companies pursuing this vision, now commonly known as BPM, can cobble together homemade solutions or lean on a single vendor, such as Hyperion, which has strengthened a key building block of its overall BPM solution.
Hyperion Solutions' Essbase 7X adds a lot of interactive exploration to the BI reporting muscle it already had and complements the reporting abilities of the Performance Suite Hyperion, acquired when the company bought Brio Software last year. The solution's new features should be a boon for companies already running Essbase, although they are not justification for companies using competitors' BPM solutions to switch to Hyperion.
Among the key additions to Essbase is a new user interface, the HVE (Hyperion Visual Explorer) client. HVE allows analysts to view and explore the data BPM taps from data warehouses, databases, and preprocessed data cubes. Previous Essbase versions sported only two end-user interfaces: an Excel-based client that best serves "spreadsheet jockeys" (those users who have a passion for the perverse panorama of pivot tables) and a UI that churns out static reports designed by others and intended for those with almost no tech capabilities.
The addition of HVE has advanced Hyperion's objective of providing users who have business knowledge with a way to interact with a generous selection of possible data "dimensions" without having to know a great deal about either the structure of the back-end data or the mechanics of how to manipulate it. To a healthy degree, the company has succeeded.
Behind the Analysis
To prepare data sources for the analyst users of HVE, database administrators use EAS (Essbase Administration Services) to build applications and data sets from back-end sources. DBAs also use the utilities to define canned calculations and administer users.
EAS requires a typical set of DBA and Windows-management tool skills. The utility relies on the now-standard Windows tree-based navigation panel and tabbed properties boxes. Using the EAS software requires craft and data source knowledge, as well as mastery of Hyperion terminology and structures.
Attaching to data sources is simple enough, but Essbase does not currently support the broad spectrum of back-end data types that more processing-intensive analytical products, such as SAS' Enterprise Miner or SPSS' Clementine, do.
On the other hand, in this version Hyperion has improved on its OLAP-centric data source model. To the traditional block storage model (one that assumes most every intersection will have data and therefore sets aside space for it), the company has added an aggregate storage model that diminishes storage requirements and ratchets up performance when dealing with sparse data sets.
Support for sparse data sets expands the practical range of back-end data sources to which Hyperion customers can attach. The designers crafted wizards to perform the conversions, and these are well-designed and documented, making the conversion effort worthwhile.
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