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CR2008 vs Edge XI

Post Author: jehanzeb

CA Forum: Integrated Solutions

Dear all,

Firstly I am not sure if I am posting this query in a right place or not (Admin could you please move this to the right place if possible?!)

Our company is thinking of buying a software package where end users can create their own reports directly without any interaction with IT Department i.e. no more requests to IT depratment for their end of the month/year reports.

We currently use IBM Informix Database with 4GL programming language for writing queries etc. What I am looking for is something which can easily integrate with Linux OS and IBM Informix db. Upon on my research I stumble upon Crystal Reports.

This peice of software is amazing when it comes to creating reports however, you got to be an IT man to create reports as you have to know how to connect to the database, which tables to choose, what filters to use and in some cases write formulas to produce the right report. This is alot of work if you think of about a user who has no or very little knowledge of IT (mostly sales,accounts,production managers).

I was planning to develop an inhouse web application which can give different people different access levels and provide them with an interface which they can use to create reports. However, this will take time and alot of effort and money to develop something like this for users who are in multiple locations all over the world.

I spoke to one of Business Objects staff member and he mentioned about BI Edge Premium which does somewhat similar sort of thing what I am looking for. However, to create reports we have to create different universes which will hold specific data tables. These tables will be used to run queries and creating reports. For each department or in some cases for each report we have to create a universe. This means alot of time spending initially creating universes for different purposes.

Lets say I am confuse in terms of what we should be using or what is the best product/approach for our company. I can develop something fairly easily in ASP.Net and publish it over the internet with Crystal Report Viewer and users can run the queries (query results will be shown on the data grid) and from there they can create reports. OR I can invest in this software, create universes for each depratment and for each purpose and let the users create their own reports.

In either case achieving the same result! but which one is better? I cannot see the comparison of the two packages.

Is there someone who was/is in the same situation as me? Or if someone has over come this situation then how did you do it? Could you advise on this please.

I hope I made some sense there.

Regards

Jehanzeb

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4 Answers

  • author's profile photo Former Member
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    Posted on Apr 08, 2008 at 09:44 PM

    Post Author: jsanzone

    CA Forum: Integrated Solutions

    Jehanzeb,

    If you talk to ten people you're going to get at least ten perspectives. The good thing is that you are in the discovery phase, and I would suggest that you don't rush this phase too much as it becomes a critical link in your journey. I'm not too up on all of Business Object's products so I can't comment on BI Edge, but can relate to Business Objects Enterprise Premium XI R2 (BOE XI R2). I've been in the BI space for the past six years and have worked on two different BI platforms (the first (to remain nameless) from 2002-2005, the second (BOE) from 2006-2008) and find BOE XI R2 to be quite complete and productive. One word of caution is to take vendor-led training on key components before or while launching out, otherwise, you're left to fumble through on your own and will regret not getting the requisite training in order to be better productive. Unfortunately, the sales rep will steer you to way too many courses, and I'm always leery of companies where the sales rep is also the education rep, I think it should be two separate functions and the two should be loosely coupled, but that's just my own impression. In regards to BOE and the universe, if you have a lot of database experience and report writing experience, then this will become very familiar and you will appreciate the way that the software "fits your life". For instance, building a universe is very much like taking a model of your database tables and "fitting" them into the universe. The universe tool (Designer) is very GUI and a portion of it will wind up representing like an ERD on your screen. The same with building reports, once your universe is ready, report writing is like a building block experience, very smooth and gratifying. I would strongly suggest sticking close to something that is going to be web-based for your users, especially since you mention users located in different geographic locations, the common interface of a web browser is a sure winner. Otherwise you have to worry about deploying a thick client to all users and that can get to be a pain (and a possible security compromise on your local server/operations). Well, I could ramble on and on, but suffice to say continue your research and try to get to see as many live demonstrations as possible, and talk to folks. Here is a link to a web site that a private individual is trying to pull together to give folks like you in discovery phase something to chew on: http://www.businesssoftwareresource.com/

    Good luck!

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  • author's profile photo Former Member
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    Posted on Apr 09, 2008 at 12:28 PM

    Post Author: jehanzeb

    CA Forum: Integrated Solutions

    Thanks John, You have given a detailed explaination as to what I should do before choosing the product. I have read the link you have sent me and that guy cetainly have or seen the packages working (Nice way explaining packages like Cognos8 and Microsoft Strategy etc).

    As you have mentioned about getting training and meeting up with people to get better understanding of the product, I have arranged meetings with Business Object staff today to see what solutions we can take on into our business.

    You have mentioned about BI XI R2, I am currently using the demo version. It is nice that we can import tables into the universe (Designer view) and then create our own reports by draging and dropping the table feilds across the Info Viewer however, users who will be using the product to create reports have no or should I say very very little knowledge of IT. Currently they use the dos interface where they enter (lets say start date, end date and error code as an example) into the program and the program runs a query and displays a particular report (The reports are hard coded into the program). They are not aware of any tables in the databse nor they know anything about "database". If you ask me, they would think it is something (database) exsist in Mars!

    I want to give them some sort of software where they can simply enter search queries and get their reports on an A4 paper. If I go by BI route, I certainly have to teach everyone (Globally) how to use the software (and you know some executives don't like someone teaching them something useful). If I go by Developing something in-house it will take quite sometime as there are massive reports which are already written in 4GL Informix and creating all those hard coded reports again will be a big challange.

    Lets see what happens I am looking forward to meet BO staff today.

    Will post my progress here:D

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  • author's profile photo Former Member
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    Posted on Apr 09, 2008 at 04:20 PM

    Post Author: jehanzeb

    CA Forum: Integrated Solutions

    Hello again,

    I did speak to Neil from IT Performance one of the partners of Business Objects. He does have a sound knowledge about the product and good thing is he is going to send me a form which has relative questions regarding business needs (to help out which product best suits us). On the basis of that we'll be able to make a judgement what product to use.

    In the mean time I found out another software from Microsoft MicroStrategy 8 [http://www.microstrategy.com/Software/Comparison/index.asp]; which has given a detailed comparison of BO and their product. Although I don't belive these type of comparisons as they sometimes are really baised but this comparison does have some thing which I found while working with Crystal Reports and Edge series. One thing is sure that the reports are pretty static in terms of viewing it on website. I mean you can't really filter out or sort things while viewing it online. Also having three different independent programs combined togeather - (Crystal Report, Xelsius, Web Intelligent Management system) I wonder if you need seprate servers for each running at the background to work properly?

    I think I am going to test the software to really see how it compares to its competitors before taking in anything.

    Will update this thread once I compared other products with BO.

    Regards

    J

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  • author's profile photo Former Member
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    Posted on Apr 17, 2008 at 11:58 AM

    Post Author: jehanzeb

    CA Forum: Integrated Solutions

    Ok after hard thinking and looking (testing) different applications I have come up to the conclusion that the best way to go about is to create applications myself, although they do take time, effort and mostly gives you nightmares but they are customised to your own company need.

    I have tried microstrategy, BO Edge XI and Cognos etc and all of them require end user to know something about databases or atlaest which tables to drag and drop across the "universe" or "viewer" etc. this however is not possible in my case as they (end users) know nothing about databases nor they are interested in it. All they are insterested in is to see the daily, weekly or monthly reports generated automatically on an A4 paper. They don't even mind if I create an application with CR 2008 reporting as integrated tool (dont change the title or put any image or make it beauty queen etc) as long as it produces the right data.

    I decided the best way is to go about this is to create applications for each department (it can be either Desktop app or Web app) and distribute it to them, obviously using CR2008 as an integrated tool for report viewing. Atleast this way they'll be happy and they dont have to learn anything either.

    So all of this effort and experience did pay off after all and I did learn one thing, hard and smart work always work well, find shortcuts where they are applicable and NOT everytime.

    Many thanks for all your support and help.

    Regards

    Jehanzeb

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