Fast Search & Transfer has developed an enterprise search system that it says improves on the benefits of data warehouses while cutting down on implementation time, cost, and complexity.
Called the AIW (adaptive information warehouse), the system includes a tool to "clean" data to put it into a uniform format and a tool to analyze the data and generate reports.
The Data Cleansing Solution tool allows for the creation of a single master index of corporate data, regardless of where it is located: databases, business applications, content management systems, CRM software, intranets, and the like.
Meanwhile, the Radar software is a ROLAP (relational online analytical processing) tool to analyze data, generate reports, and create dashboards. Radar can work in tandem with other data analysis tools such as data mining software.
For companies with a data warehouse, AIW can initially complement it and eventually replace it, while companies without a data warehouse won't have to build one if they implement AIW, said Davor Sutija, vice president of strategic market development at Fast.
AIW is suitable for companies that don't have any Fast Search enterprise search products because it brings everything needed to index data. Companies that already have a Fast Search platform can simply add on the new tools in AIW, such as the data cleansing and analyzing tools, he said.
The full AIW package, including the search platform, Radar and Data Cleansing, starts at $300,000 and goes up from there, depending on size of implementation.
Setting up an AIW system will take significantly less time than building a data warehouse, cost less, and provide more agile access to corporate data, Sutija said. An AIW system can be set up in eight to 10 weeks, while a data warehouse can take 18 months or longer, he said. Meanwhile, AIW indexes data that is much more granular than is usually available in a data warehouse, where data is usually consolidated into weekly or monthly results, he said.
Fast's search-focused approach to business intelligence is clever, but the concept will probably be a tough sell for companies that have invested millions of dollars and devoted years of effort to building and maintaining a data warehouse, said Guy Creese, a Burton Group analyst. Most large companies have, over the past decade, built data warehouses and invested in the data analysis tools needed to mine the data, he said.
If Fast manages to convince large companies to complement their data warehouses with its AIW, they're bound to see the benefits of the search-based approach, such as more flexibility in crafting ad hoc queries and wider use in the organization beyond the 10 to 20 percent of employees whose jobs requires them to generate reports regularly, Creese said. The search interface is simpler to use than a traditional data analysis application and will seem friendlier to occasional users, he said.
Fast may have an easier time convincing fast-growing medium-sized companies without data warehouses that they don't need one if they implement AIW because the cost and complexity of building a data warehouse are well known, Creese said.
This story was updated on January 29, 2007