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Volume 9, Number 1 -- January 6, 2009

SPSS to Update ShowCase OLAP Server Technology

Published: January 6, 2009

by Alex Woodie

The ShowCase division of business intelligence software maker SPSS is working with Oracle to bring a new release of the Hyperion Essbase OLAP product to the IBM i OS operating system. SPSS says it has been working with Oracle to port the latest release of Essbase, which Oracle has incorporated into its Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) product suite, to i OS, with a ship date tentatively set for next quarter.

ShowCase is a high-end business intelligence tool designed to deliver powerful online analytical processing (OLAP) capabilities to larger companies with terabytes of historical data. The product allows customers to build data "cubes" with three or more dimensions of data, which can produce deep analytical insights into customer behavior, potentially yielding millions of dollars in profit (or savings) for the owners of the information.

The ShowCase division of SPSS had an original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partnership with Hyperion Solutions for Essbase. For years, ShowCase ported Essbase to OS/400 and i5/OS, enabling AS/400, iSeries, and System i shops to take advantage of the OLAP functionality running in a native environment. In March 2007, Oracle bought Hyperion for $3.3 billion, thus complicating the OEM agreement.

SPSS signed a new agreement with Oracle for the Essbase technology last May, which will allow SPSS to continue to port and develop Essbase for the i OS platform, says Kathy Konkel, product marketing manager for the ShowCase Suite.

"Oracle was very interested in doing the agreement," Konkel says. "When Oracle acquired Hyperion, we had just done a new agreement with them. We've added to this agreement and refreshed it a number of times. But this is the first one signed by Oracle."

The agreement gives SPSS the right to port Hyperion System 9 (Essbase version 9), which is currently available as part of EPM version 11.1.1, to run on Power Systems servers under i OS.

SPSS is currently working on the port, and plans to start a beta program soon, with tentative availability by the end of the second quarter, Konkel says. Previously, the company had planned to have a beta ready by the end of the year, but the company had to adjust its plans. The upcoming release will include a refresh of the core Essbase for IBM i server, as well as a new release of the Web Analysis component.

SPSS also has plans for a version 9 release of ShowCase Suite, which will continue the transformation to SPSS's Predictive Enterprise Services platform that began with ShowCase Suite version 8, which was quietly released by SPSS about 12 months ago.

"One of the big things with version 8 was a focus on automating the reporting processes, and delivering the content automatically," Konkel says. "We had a product called Enterprise Reporting in the past, and we kind of merged that product with our Predictive Enterprise Services product, which is the underlying platform on which all of SPSS products are built."

The move to the Predictive Enterprise Services platforms enables ShowCase customers to automate and manage their i OS-based OLAP activities using the same set of tools and interfaces they use to manage and automate their other SPSS products. The product does this by incorporating a new repository that can be used to save all types of reports, queries, jobs, and schedules. By saving all related documents--including related "metadata"--customers can simplify their SPSS BI environment and improve the end user experience, SPSS says.

ShowCase 8 also brought some i OS-specific enhancements, including support for Independent Auxiliary Storage Pools (or iASPs) and "supplemental groups" within i OS, which SPSS says will simplify some administrative tasks associated with controlling user access to data.

Currently, SPSS is focusing development and sales efforts on supporting existing clients, as opposed to finding brand new customers, according to Konkel. These are tough times economically, and concentrating on existing customers is a pragmatic way to survive a down market.

For more information on what's new in ShowCase version 8, see www.spss.com/showcase/new.htm.


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