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New Business Objects platform promises better integration with Oracle, Microsoft

In a quest to ensure customers it's not for only SAP, Business Objects released a new platform today that promises better integration with non-SAP environments.

Business Objects today released a new platform that it says better connects to data in non-SAP software and databases, like those from Oracle and Microsoft.

BusinessObjects XI 3.1 shows that SAP will continue to provide new business intelligence capabilities for non-SAP customers, according to Pierre Leroux, Business Objects product marketing manager. SAP purchased the company about a year ago.

"We want to deliver on our commitment to be open to all sources," Leroux said. "We're demonstrating to people that we're making continuous investments in our platform, and making sure customers in other environments are not left wondering, 'what's happening with my platform.'"

With the introduction of BusinessObjects XI 3.0 less than a year ago, Business Objects provided access to structured and unstructured information, and tools for analysts and nonanalysts alike to interpret it. There are about 2,500 customers on the BusinessObjects XI 3.0 platform, according to the company. Business Objects wouldn't say how many of those are SAP customers.

For more on the Business Objects platform
TechEd: SAP customers should look to Business Objects for business intelligence needs

Business Objects enhances midmarket business intelligence tool

Business Objects has been SAP's crown jewel for the last few months, with product news focused mainly around the company. While Business Objects is operated separately from SAP, it walks a tightrope needing to appeal to SAP's sizable install base as well as push its product on non-SAP customers. Last month, the American SAP Users Group started the Global BusinessObjects Network, a group geared toward non-SAP customers.

The new Business Objects platform improves integration with Microsoft, including the newest releases of SQL Server and Windows Server. It also works within a .NET framework. It connects to data warehouses from Hewlett-Packard, Neoview, Netezza and Teradata, and to Oracle databases and applications, including the latest releases of PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel.

Business Objects users can now connect to the Oracle E-Business Suite and design, schedule and distribute reports based on the data model, something they could not do before, Leroux said.

"People can take advantage of the data sitting in these Oracle applications," he said.

The new version of the Business Objects platform is also capable of running in a 64-bit architecture, meaning it can handle larger data sets and give users quicker access, Leroux said.

A unified BI platform that accesses non-SAP environments will help make business intelligence more pervasive across accompanies, according to Dan Vesset, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC, because most companies have heterogonous environments.

"Our research into factors that lead to pervasive use of business intelligence suggests that providing self-service access to all available, relevant information, which can originate in different internal or external systems, is key to BI diffusion," Vesset said in a written statement.

BusinessObjects XI 3.0 users can easily upgrade to BusinessObjects XI 3.1 as part of the maintenance program, Leroux said. The new platform version also contains interface improvements, specifically in the Voyager tool, which is used to explore online analytical processing, a process that allows data to be looked at from different points of view.

"We've been very clear about the commitment to non-SAP sources. I think we're delivering on that commitment," Leroux said.

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