As I try to understand the current trends in Business Intelligence solutions and, in particular at present, try to get to grips with what is meant by many of the marketing labels-like Agile BI-I have come across a number of really interesting products. Last week I had a phone briefing about Oryx and learnt a lot about the background that led to its development, and had an overview of what it could do. I was very interested and took the opportunity to go along and see them and have a demo of the software. What I have seen is a very polished and accomplished solution to a problem that I have seen occurs over and over again.
We have all worked in companies where, despite of all of the efforts of the IT department, demand for reports and analysis is never met, and that gap is usually filled by a series of Excel spreadsheets that provide answers but are far from a polished reliable source of enterprise data. Oryx is designed to enable business experts to obtain answers for themselves in a robust and reliable fashion.
Whereas most traditional approaches involve several steps with different tools to extract, to validate, to format and then to present data, and require a number of specialist skills such as an ability to write SQL, Oryx, in a single tool, and with an interface that is a point and click standard Microsoft desktop style screen, all of the functions are invoked to complete the job. From a very accessible interface a series of functions are invoked that will obtain data, validate it, format it and present it back with various tools, including drill through, and pivot and export functionality, and all of the other features that an enterprise solution should have, but delivered at the desktop of the business user with speed and elegance. In addition, all outputs satisfy the needs of enterprise solutions; they clearly identify when they were produced, there is a clear trail to identify where the data came from and how it has been manipulated.
I am not suggesting that Oryx is a complete replacement for the standard BI tool kit , but I see it as a valuable addition, enabling the backlog of demand to be satisfied without resorting to dubious DIY solutions. I have not actually seen another tool with all of these features delivered in this way before. Although designed to be sold as a Departmental solution to help Finance, Marketing etc to handle their demand for analysis without requiring constant IT intervention, this is a tool that should be seen as a proper enterprise level solution. It is very robust when things go wrong, it fails elegantly giving all of the information needed to correct the situation and fails safe rather than leaving a trail of files in uncertain states for IT to sort out. Once a report or cube is proven to satisfy the need, the solution can be turned into a production job with, again, just changes made via the interface to change the values and set up the required libraries.
This is a powerful desktop tool, capable of addressing a business need that exists in most companies. I have been impressed by the company and the product and think they succeed in satisfying the business need for flexible rapid answers, and IT's need to see the total cost of providing solutions remain controlled and not introduce a debt to be tackled in future years.
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