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IBI adds Web services plug-in for quick BI

By Rich Seeley

One of the biggest potential uses for Web services technology is providing business users with transparent links to data from disparate sources, according to Ken Newberger, who helped develop a new BI plug-in for Information Builders Inc. (IBI).

The WebFocus Web Services Adapter, which Information Builders announced this past week, enables data wrapped in standard Web services to be directly consumed by the WebFocus report server, Newberger said. The business user is then able to work with the information as if it were relational data, he added.

Taking advantage of XML and Web services technology was a natural next step for New York City-based Information Builders, according to Newberger, who is the director of product management for WebFocus.

"We've made a 25-year career out of providing ubiquitous access to business information," he said. "We're the largest developer of data adapters. This is just another data adapter."

He said while Web services are sometimes viewed as more trouble than they will be worth, providing quick data access will make it worthwhile because managers and analysts who need BI can't wait for IT to complete the merger of two database systems following an acquisition. Some companies have spent years trying to unite systems of acquired companies, he said, and people who work with BI can't wait for months or years.

"BI is always tactical," he said, "always short-term."

Among the potential applications for the new Web services adapter is to help provide immediate BI from different corporate database systems following a merger or acquisition, Newberger said. Rather than waiting for a massive data warehousing project to bring together data from two companies, a Web services wrapper could provide quick access to the newly acquired company's sales information, allowing managers to view and compare in the same charts as the data coming directly from the acquiring company's database. Sales analysis could then be done with the same desktop application the managers and directors have been using.

"They'll run the same BI apps as before but instead of going to a database, it will go to a Web service mapped to a table," Newberger said.

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