Business Objects, MySQL Team On Analytics, Database Integration

MySQL database

The Cupertino, Calif.-based analytics company also plans to officially add MySQL to the list of databases supported by its popular Crystal Reports reporting products and the BusinessObjects Data integrator.

The news came as MySQL kicked off its annual users conference in Santa Clara, Calif., on Monday. MySQL is expected to formally announce the beta of its MySQL 5 database at the event. The database, which has been in alpha mode for several months, will add support for triggers and stored procedures.

The interaction between business intelligence and databases is a natural goal as solution providers help customers make sense of the deluge of data in company repositories. Effective business intelligence, or analytics, helps companies parse information to make it more useful, such as by tracking inventories and orders and potentially helping them predict future trends from historical data.

One ISV attendee at the conference, who requested anonymity, said his company already facilitates integration between Crystal Reports and its MySQL-based network monitoring applications. "I'd have to see details of implementation, but this might help us," he said.

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Analytics vendors like Business Objects, Cognos and others are under pressure as more infrastructure, database and applications companies rush to incorporate analytics into their own base offerings. In the past few years, Siebel Systems, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM have snapped up small business-intellignece companies and innovative technologies for use in their products.

Microsoft partners with Business Objects by embedding Crystal Reports in some products, but the software giant also offers its own reporting services in its database. Microsoft also plans enhanced OLAP and ETL capabilities for its long-delayed SQL Server 2005 database, aka Yukon. And in the next year, Microsoft is expected to ratchet up competition with its business-intelligence partners with the planned but unannounced Maestro realtime reporting server, industry sources said.

Observers noted that Microsoft's next-gen database is already years late and that the planned WinFS storage subsystem that would bolster the database's ability to natively handle all sorts of data types also has slipped well into the future. Those delays could give other database and analytics players more breathing room, they said.

"The platform vendors like Oracle and Microsoft, and at some point IBM, are all adding this stuff," said Michael Corcoran, vice president and chief communications officer at Information Builders, a New York-based analytics solution provider. "At what point will they provide enough functions is the big question."

Yet enterprise accounts need a non-aligned enterprise analytics play, according to Corcoran. He said a large automotive company recently asked him if Information Builders is concerned about the looming competitive onslaught in analytics.

"He said, 'We're a big SAP shop and a big Microsoft shop. With these players entering, aren't you concerned?' " Corcoran said. "I said, 'You always have to sleep with one eye open.' But I asked him, 'In your environment you use SAP, but what do you use for HR?' PeopleSoft. 'What do you use for customer data?' Siebel. 'And how many legacy systems do you have?' Thousands. When will Microsoft solve that problem? That's the value we have. We do that now."