Databeacon Smart Client
starting at $395
Databeacon make a bunch of business analytics products, aimed at
departmental and enterprise applications. Their products offer a variety
of ways to turn data into OLAP cubes, and then turn those cubes into
interactive reports. Their latest product family, the Databeacon Smart
client, puts a new twist into the mix by using .NET Smart Client
technology to deliver the reporting part of the application.
With Smart Client technology, it is (in theory at least) easy to deploy
an application. Provided that a PC has the .NET Framework installed, and
things are set up correctly on a server, the application can be sucked
down over a browser connection for a no-touch installation. The net
effect is that it's easy to deliver the application around an
organization. Databeacon is one of the first to us this stuff in a
commercial application, and it seems to work well.
The Smart Client offering is actually a family of products:
- Databeacon Analyst is an entry-level product ($395) that lets you
create cubes on your own desktop from flat text files. Even so, you get
an attractive user interface for exploring the data cubes in the form of
Databeacon Insight, and upwards compatability with the other members of
- Databeacon Smart Client Standard ($4495/5 named users) is the version
I played with for a bit. This one includes the technology to let you
ship your own cubes around for browser-based analysis. I like the
overall feel of their client; there were a few visual glitches, but
nothing serious, and the integrated charting works well. The Databeacon
Publisher, which creates cubes, supports a bunch of different input
formats, including various delimited and XML files as well as JDBC and
ODBC connections to data sources (though, oddly enough, not OLE DB).
- Databeacon Smart Client Professional ($5895/5 named users) brings in
an API for scripting new cubes, as well as some portal integration
features, and includes all of Databeacon Smart Client Standard's
Overall, Databeacon appears to offer a very scalable story for analyzing
business data through OLAP cubes. Certainly the Smart Client piece will
make for easier dissemination of a rich user interface, without the
hassle of installing software by hand on client computers or the
nuisance of trying to write applications in a browser. It also seems to
be very fast at dealing with large volumes of data, meaning that OLAP
analysis can be a more exploratory and less batch activity.
Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.