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  1. Technology
September 28, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

At next week’s Fall Internet World show in New York, InterNetivity Inc will be announcing version 4.0 of its core web-based decision support tool, dbProbe. The product is not meant for the so-called power users who require desktop reporting tools such as Brio or Cognos, rather for managers who don’t need such sophisticated reporting capabilities and for companies that have to rapidly deploy large numbers of users, because the client application is viewed through a browser. However, Chris Biber the company’s VP of marketing emphasized that this is a real decision support tool, and not just something to render reports in HTML. So the sweet spot is to balance the power of desktop OLAP tools with the portability of HTML, which Biber reckons the company has achieved in version 4.0. New this time is the ability to share views with other users, the integration of reports into Microsoft Excel and the ability to print them more easily. The product can take as its source any ODBC, SQL server, DB2 database or delimited ASCII data, and generate a cube from the dbPublish engine. The PageBuild part of that converts it to the appropriate platform, Windows 95/98, NT or Unix and then deploys it in HTML to a web server, from where the client accesses it through a browser. Also new in version 4.0 is the ability to download the cube, which is preferable if its structure is not likely to change much, or simply a URL pointing the cube on the server if the structure is likely to change. The cube can interface to the back end through Microsoft’s Tensor OLAP API extension, InterNetivity’s own OLAP engine or WhiteLight Systems Inc’s interface to its Sybase OLAP application. InterNetivity is hoping to sign up further ISVs soon to write other APIs. dbProbe is basically a Java product except for the back-end data extraction tools and the part that reformats the cube for specific platforms, as Biber says they need to be fast, and so are written in C. The client application is just 140k. The tool prints in the PDF format as printing within Java is not happening, says Biber, who used to be internet evangelist across the road at fellow Ottawa company Corel Corp. He says the company’s nearest competitor, apart from the likes of Brio and Cognos, is InfoSpace with its relational reporting tool. However, he says, in the long term it is likely to be Microsoft Corp, as there is probably going to be OLAP capabilities in Office 2000. Investors in 24-person InterNetivity, which raised $3m in May, include Cognos founder and former chief executive Michael Potter, Ventures West and McLean Watson. dbProbe 4.0 will ship October 14 and costs $20,000 for a web server license including ten user licenses and $125 per user in batches of ten. The previous version costs $12,500. There is also internet pricing available, for users such as governments who want to give people access to statistics and other information – that pricing is obviously not based on the numbers of users.

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