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Actuate Rounds out BI Platform with Analytics

Actuate Monday rounded out its business intelligence platform with the introduction of Actuate Analytics, software it claims will give "power" users access to data beyond Web reports and spreadsheets.

Business intelligence platforms help companies make better informed decisions about their processes, products and employees through detailed reports and analyses. The software usually offers highly interactive functionality and clear graphics and often takes the place of paper reports, which are costly to mail.

Many experts say a complete BI platform consists of reporting, querying, analytics, as well dashboards and scorecards. By adding analytics to its platform, South San Francisco-based Actuate has solidified its Actuate 7 platform as complete products, according to Ventana Research analyst Eric Rogge.

Rogge, who noted that Actuate's core competency is reporting for large-scale intranets and extranets, said Actuate now fully competes with other BI vendors, including Business Objects , Cognos and MicroStrategy in what research firm IDC said is a $4.5 billion market.

Actuate Senior Director of Corporate Communications Vijay said Actuate Analytics offers a customizable interface that can be tailored to a user's skill level, as well as personalized cubes that allow users to tailor how they render information.

While traditional analytics products are complex and difficult to learn, Actuate Analytics offers offline analysis for users to analyze cubes and provides the ability to link multidimensional analysis to Web reports and spreadsheets.

This added dimensions increase flexibility, allowing users to "flip-flop" how they view reports and visualize two sets of data at two separate access points, Ramakrishnan told internetnews.com. This, he said, is one of the ways Actuate Analytics is different from a similar product, like Cognos' PowerPlay.

Also, while most analytics software runs on a separate server from the enterprise reporting infrastructure, Actuate Analytics lets advanced or "power" users create their own analysis, define reports and drill down into detail online and remotely.

Because the new product relies on the company's Actuate iServer for creating and delivering cubes, Web reports, query results and Excel spreadsheets, customers don't need to purchase separate analytics and enterprise reporting platforms -- another distinction between Actuate and its rivals.

Rogge told internetnews.com Analytics is a great up-sell because it provides previously unavailable levels of interactivity for organizations that already have Actuate 7 installed. Also, he said, the integration factor keeps customers away from a hodge-podge of products.

Actuate Analytics has three components: Cube Viewer; an interface that lets users study cubes of information, define reports and save them for offline analysis; Cube Designer; a designer that enables the user to define and create lightweight OLAP cubes; and Analytics Option for iServer, a component that generates on-demand or scheduled cubes, and caches and delivers cubes and cube reports to users.

The company said its Actuate Analytics will be available in a limited production version on December 31, and is scheduled for general availability at the end of January 2004. Pricing for the Option starts at $15,000 per CPU, and $495 per developer for Actuate Cube Designer.



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