Palo Alto based business intelligence software provider Brio Technology Inc has beefed up its Enterprise family of decision support products in order to better compete with its two better known rivals, Business Objects SA and Cognos Software Inc. The improvements include duplication of what were previously its client-server only features to web and Java-based platforms, and what executive vice president Chris Grejtak dubs a ‘sideways step’ in its product evolution, with the addition of souped up reporting capabilities, making it more effective in competition in particular against the Cognos’ PowerPlay and Impromptu set. This is the second refurbishment of the Brio product set this year, following its April shift from focusing solely on desktop Online Analytical Processing to Internet/Intranet and enterprise matters with the release of version 5 of Brio Enterprise (CI No 3,142). Brio Enterprise Server is hailed as a totally new product, while the company has also released new 5.5 versions of its BrioQuery (Designer, navigator, Explorer), and its two web ‘plug-ins,’ Brio.Insight and Brio Quick.View. Enterprise Server is itself made up of two servers, OnDemand (a scalable web application server that uses Web ‘pull’ client technology) and Broadcast Server (formerly Brio Query Server), which ‘pushes’ pre-computed documents and (especially) reports out to web, client-server and mobile users via file transfer protocol, web, file and print server protocols. There is also a 100% Java server based administration tool in the package. Brio’s pitch is that most actual users (it says it currently targets the broad Global 2000 customer universe, but hints it will be moving into greater emphasis on verticals in 1998) don’t think in terms of querying a database, but in what reports they get on their desktop every day, and how they wish they could do more with them, according to Grejtak, who joined still-private Brio from Data Warehouse DBMS specialist Red Brick Systems Inc in January, where he was also marketing czar. Hence the notion of so-say ‘adaptive’ reports, which can be published, formatted and broadcast to users via event or data triggers (i.e. when sales go down, or every Monday), and which can in turn be customized for a particular recipient according to their profile of responsibility (managers get to view data, more senior managers to analyze and process it).
Bowling ball through garden hose
Grejtak contrasts this production report delivery approach with Warehouse reporting via so-called web OLAP products from newly- minted (September) partner Information Advantage Inc, or Microstrategy Inc; Brio has invested in compression technology which it claims can squeeze the size of things being pumped over the web by between three and ten times, he notes, and further that it is shipping reports, not HTML documents, down the wire, tartly noting that putting the latter over the internet is like pushing a bowling ball through a garden hose. Brio, founded in the 1980s by Swede Yorgen Edholm, a former concert violinist-cum- management consultant from Sweden and his partner Katherine Glassey, spent the first ten years of its life as a consulting firm specializing in decision support tools for the Apple market, before the company moved into more mainstream decision support products three years ago, when it attracted its first slice of venture capital money. Now it believes with the Enterprise Server shift it is able to offer the same functionality to both the client-server and web-based worlds, making it more scalable and attractive than similar moves by Cognos and Business Objects. The move, to be formally announced next week, builds on the aggressive moves Brio has made this year to be taken more seriously as an enterprise Business Objects-Cognos level player, not just a low-end query and reporting tool supplier, and also to prepare for A likely an initial public offering early in 1998. The company received its mezzanine (last before IPO) funding at the end of July to the tune of $6m, bringing VC investment in the firm up to $15.8m, with the company boasting its pre-flotation valuation now stands somewhere between $80m and $100m, with estimates of the company’s 1997 sales of around $30m. The Enterprise Server is available now on Windows NT and Sun Sparc Solaris, with Hewlett-Packard Co and IBM Corp AIX later this year. á
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