Informatica PowerAnalyzer 4 Integrates Seamlessly With Excel

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Informatica says its next version of PowerAnalyzer with new thin-client access will bring true business intelligence to the masses.

PowerAnalyzer 4 also adds tight integration with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets on the client side and new performance-management capabilities, said Sanjay Poonen, vice president of marketing for Informatica.

A user's spreadsheet can be launched automatically from inside PowerAnalyzer, making it easy to run what-if scenarios within the familiar Excel interface. Given Excel's near-100 percent penetration in corporate America, this is no small feature, observers said.

The interface into Excel is seamless, solution providers said. "This is very nice, especially for unsophisticated business users who are used to Excel," said Brian Queenin, vice president and business intelligence practice leader of Cap Gemini Ernst and Young.

Dan Linstedt, CTO of Core Integration Partners, concurred. "You can run your queries and alerts [from PowerAnalyzer] right up into Excel, which everyone already has," he said.

The new grid-like interface lets users put more objects onto their dashboard in a true WYSIWYG fashion, he said. "This is not a fat client %85 there is no client-side technology, but you can do drag-and-drop," Linstedt said.

Queenin also lauded PowerAnalyzer 4's ability to transmit to mobile devices and phones. "This fits nicely into global businesses needing access to information," he said.

Informatica is building more business intelligence features into its core analytics product to provide one integrated platform with simple pricing to make it easier for OEMs and partners to offer, Poonen said.

The product is due to ship in May. The price for implementing the entire Informatica stack,from PowerCenter data integration and Informatica data warehousing to PowerAnalyzer,starts at about $500,000 for 200 to 300 users. But the company said its modular pricing will help get even smaller companies started.

The new offering also supports Six Sigma management philosophy aimed at eliminating defects and waste in manufacturing processes.

Informatica executives said their company's approach to integrating scorecarding, metrics management and Six Sigma support into the business intelligence offering contrasts with other vendors that offer separate scorecarding and management products, often with different pricing and delivery models.

"These are all core features that should not be separate products but part of the platform," Poonen said.

Business intelligence and analytics have been relatively hot areas even in the down economy, integrators said. "Companies are realizing they need realtime data from their information streams," said Core Integration Partners' Linstedt. Seeing that interest from accounts, "many of the big apps vendors have put out the word they're looking to buy up BI vendors," he said.

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