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Thank you for visiting my blog. I am a Cofounder & Technical Advisor here at the BeyeNETWORK. Having covered the business intelligence and data warehousing industry for more than 15 years, I'm looking forward to a more interactive form of communication with all of you. Please share your comments and thoughts!



Recently in Software as a Service (SaaS) Category

The SaaS space continues to roll forward at lightening speed and Birst is moving faster than most. With only a year on the market they are launching Version 4.0 and adding features to their system that will make the enterprise IT guys stand up and take notice.

SaaS BI is a great way for many companies to address analytic needs but since the beginning security, data integration, governance and control have made many tentative to embrace the technology. Birst's latest upgrade addresses all of these hurdles. The parts I liked most are Birst Live Access it allows you to access your own data from behind the firewall and include it in your SaaS based analysis. They have also built out connectors that will allow you to integrate data from other applications like SalesForce and Google Analytics and even connectivity to desktop Access DB's and Excel to bring together a federated view of your business data.Your data stays where you have it but at the same time you benefit from a SaaS hosted BI application. The other exciting feature here is if the data you own is configured in a real-time model you can leverage that performance on Birst so real-time in the cloud becomes much simpler too.

Version 4 also has added Birst Advanced ETL this upgraded feature gives you the ability to customize the ETL to meet special corporate and analytical requirements.

There are many other feature upgrades in this version including newly enhanced dashboards and administration that now includes Flash Flex providing a more rich and interactive experience with the solution. On the Dashboard front the Flex Flash provides the business user with a more discovery rich interface allowing for easier drill downs, views and even drag and drop features to make getting answers from the data easier.

SaaS continues to be a leading area of interest with our audience at the NETWORK and these types of product announcements are proof that the segment is evolving fast to meet the needs of the growing user base.

Posted November 3, 2009 4:40 AM
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The project continues to move forward at a very fast pace and I have to say much of that success is due to the team we have assembled. As I mentioned in my first post I am working with some excellent service and solution providers on this project so I thought it was about time that I let you know who they are.

Heading up the project is Steve Dine founder of Datasource Consulting here in Denver. His firm has embraced the challenge and brought a set of best practices and methodologies to the project that provide a solid scalable infrastructure but also provide the flexibility to help us evolve and grow. Datasource Consulting's expertise around lean BI, integration and cloud technologies made them the perfect project lead.

We couldn't get this job completed without the right solutions and as many of you know I am a huge supporter of open source technology. The entire platform for the Network is built on a LAMP architecture so when we sought out solutions we went to the open source community first.

Our initial challenge around this project was to identify a way to move our data off of our production environment that supports the  Network web servers to a cloud based platform. More importantly we required this ETL functionality to work easily on the Amazon Cloud and it had to be powerful enough to feed the data model and processes designed by the team at Datasource Consulting. The logical choice for us was Talend Integration Suite an open source enterprise data integration solution, designed for scalability, process complexity and multi-user development. I'd like to thank Yves de Montcheuil, Vice President of Marketing at Talend for working with us on the project. As we progress, Talend will also supply expert level assistance as we bring the data integration online.

At the front end of our project we will be using JasperSoft Business Intelligence Suite where we will be able to leverage the advanced reporting, production reporting, ad-hoc, dash board and data exploration and analysis functionalities that are delivered in the solution. JasperSoft works well with cloud based data and Nick Halsey Vice President of Marketing and Product Management has also worked with us to supply professional services to leverage the platform when it goes into production.

An additional advantage to this line up is that Datasource is a Talend certified partner and Talend and JasperSoft are also partners so the synergy between the companies is exceptional.

That's it for now, I have to prepare for my reporting scope meeting with Matt Caton of Datasource I am looking forward to exploring my options.

Posted August 12, 2009 6:00 AM
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I am getting ready to start a cloud based business intelligence project here at the BeyeNETWORK and thought it might be interesting to share details along the way. I will try to post as we achieve milestones for the project.

So first off let me share a little about the scope and our goals. As I am sure you are aware we capture lots of transactional data on what our readers interact with across the sites that make up the Network in January we made changes to our global passport system that allowed us to normalize the base data we collect enabling a cleaner view of the content and how it related to readers. Our goal is to aggregate the information and to identify trends in the industry, popular topics and authors and to deliver more finely focused dynamic content to readers.

I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that data grew quicker than we expected and initially we used straight SQL queries to gain some insight into what was happening with our data. We then created a simple dashboard to deliver views of the queries, gave access to others on the team and quickly brought our systems to a grinding halt. It was a good example of how not to implement a data warehouse and business intelligence project. The data was stored on our web servers and every time I asked a serious question of the data it affected the Networks performance. Not to mentioned we were storing the information in a simple series of tables not optimized or organized for analytics.

So, this brings us to the challenge. I need a system that serves my business needs, integrated our data to the cloud in a model optimized for analytics so I can deliver business intelligence insights into what our customers are most interested in. We plan to do the following with help from friends and partners and I will share about that in my next post. In the meanwhile we are beginning the data modeling stage and implementing a methodology for handling our data that will provide a flexible platform as we move forward. We have chosen Amazon as our cloud host and will virtualize a copy of our existing platform there to support the business intelligence platform we require and to keep the environment consistent for our engineering team.

I see the cloud as a perfect platform for this project and as more vendors have embraced the cloud we found solutions that fit our needs and offered the flexibility we require. The data is small now (8M rows, growing 1M per month) but as it scales the platform will as well. The costs are very manageable as well.

That's all for now I will bring you up to date on our progress again soon as well as providing insight into the process and the solutions we are using.

Posted July 20, 2009 9:56 AM
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Yes I know there are a lot of BI applications that will run on your iPhone. Oracle was an early adopter (maybe even the first according to some blogs) companies like Pentaho and QlikTech and MicroStrategy have also delivered very nice iPhone solutions. But I have yet to see anyone leverage the iPhone interface with the elegance that MeLLmo has delivered with its new SaaS application RoamBi.

RoamBi can take a spreadsheet, web pages, and even SalesForce reports and transform it into a highly intuitive business intelligence application with just a couple key strokes. If you want to give it a try its available as a free download through the iPhone App Store and can be found at: http://www.roambi.com/getroambi.

MeLLmo is rolling out three different components of the solution today.

  • Free RoamBi application for the iPhone - allows you to view and interact with the data
  • RoamBi SaaS, which allows individual users to publish their personal data to the iPhone in one click. All you have to do is upload your data to the system and it will deliver rich reports to your iPhone. MeLLmo is presently delivering 4 different views that will work with many types of data. See below for more details on views.* A premium SaaS version with additional functionality will be available later this year.
  • RoamBi Enterprise, which allows the mobile workforce to publish their business information to the iPhone. The Enterprise version is a scalable server that allows organizations to publish business information to to mobile devices.
The company is headed by industry veteran Santiago Becerra, chairman and co-founder. He founded Infommersion, creator of Xcelsius, in 2002, which he later sold to Business Objects in 2005. Santiago was also the founder and CEO of Graphical Information Inc., a software company that he sold to Oracle Corporation in 1998.

Visit the website to see a video demonstration of RoamBi and view sample publishing options.

Views are dynamic user interface options formatted specifically for the iPhone. These elegant design types include:
  • SuperList for publishing tabular data
  • CataList for publishing information in a catalog format
  • Cardex for publishing content in a file cabinet format
  • PieView for publishing content in a pie chart format
Here is how you get started.
  • First, download RoamBi from the iTunes App Store
  • Second, visit www.roambi.com to upload custom information to the RoamBi Publisher including Excel spreadsheets, HTML table data, CSV files, and salesforce.com reports
  • Third, select a RoamBi View and publish the information to an iPhone with one-click
While some of the more established BI vendors are offering much more by way of comprehensive platform MeLLmo has done an excellent job out of the gate putting mobile BI in the hands of just about anyone who has data to analyze. They have done a superb job of leveraging the iPhone platform. They have several patents in place already and with 9 pending so I'm sure a few of the leaders in the space will be calling them this week to discuss partnerships.

Here are a few screen shots:




Posted May 18, 2009 10:05 PM
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I was listening to my favorite podcast program today (This Week in Tech - TWIT 183) and writer, new media expert Corey Doctorow put a fine point on how media is evolving. He talked about the way that technology can force a chasm and then perhaps acceptance. And that the old media delivery systems tend to get folded into the new. The first published newspaper was the The Boston News-Letter, a weekly which debuted in 1704 I'm not sure how it performed from a financial perspective but it did spawn an industry that is now evolving away from its roots landing publications online or on devices like the Amazon Kindle and iPhone.

Perhaps the future of newspaper may in fact parallel that of other media that came before it like opera and poetry which are generally not a profitable today and in the case of Opera are often funded by the wealthy. In a future world the idea of a viable newspaper model may be something printed on a expensive cloth, ironed by the butler and delivered to the rich weirdo in the penthouse.

I think it draws an interesting parallel to what is happening in our industry. The old delivery systems are getting folded into the new. Early on reporting seemed to have significant value it didn't even need to be pretty it was just great to have. Reporting, while still valuable is giving way to Performance Management and the ability to respond verses observe this is the value many companies need from BI today. The systems of today are focusing on mass adoption, A-ha moments that allow users to deep dive and explore and added value from unstructured and semi-structured sources not previously part of the equation. What are these technologies going to fold into? Is it Real-time access, SaaS, Embedded Business Intelligence, Open Source? Which of these will force the irrefutable chasm that will spawn the next age of business intelligence?

So the question remains,  is the business intelligence system you have today best suited for rich weirdo's?

Posted April 7, 2009 4:34 AM
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