Symtrax Updates StarQuery for JDE, Asian Markets
Corrected: January 18, 2011
by Alex Woodie
Symtrax recently launched a new release of its business intelligence query tool, called StarQuery, that is fully Unicode compliant, which enables the software to display the complex character sets used in Asian languages. JD Edwards customers will also notice a significant performance improvement when they use StarQuery version 3.3, the vendor says.
StarQuery is a Windows-based query tool unveiled by Symtrax in late 2003 as a replacement for its XL400 product. The core components of the StarQuery suite include a data mapping engine called MapDesigner that's used to create user-specific views of a database (DB2/400 most often), and an Excel plug-in, called StarQuery for Excel, that allows users to run queries and work with the resulting data inside the comfort of the Microsoft spreadsheet program. Additional modules provide scheduling capabilities and support for the Open Office spreadsheet.
Symtrax's main goal with the software is to enable end users to generate their own reports and do their own data manipulation from Excel. (That is, once an administrator has created the database views that users will have access to.) By putting more power in the hands of decision makers, Symtrax felt it could free up IT administrators to chase more value-added tasks.
While StarQuery provides some advanced reporting features, such as drill down capabilities, Symtrax executives are adamant that StarQuery is not a full business intelligence suite. "We do not try to compete with the Cognos and BusinessObjects of the world," says Frank Yacano, director of U.S. sales for Symtrax, which has offices in Los Angeles and Boston. "We're positioned--nicely, in my opinion--above something like Crystal Reports, but below your Cognos."
Yacano doesn't want to bad-mouth Cognos, which is fine, considering so many other vendors trash the IBM property on a near-daily basis. That product is very good at analyzing large sets of data, and doing what-ifs, he says. But when all customers need is to run reports from production databases--and they want to be fully installed and trained in three months or less and spend no more than $25,000 or so--then StarQuery seldom loses the deal, Yacano says.
Symtrax developed Unicode support in StarQuery 3.3 in response to requests from customers that are doing more business in Asia. "Particularly as we get into [JD Edwards shops and the larger ERP systems], with much larger clients, we're getting a lot more companies who say, 'It would be nice if we had one tool we could use across the whole organization.'"
StarQuery 3.3 is fully double byte character set (DBCS) complaint, and supports all of the major Asian languages, Yacano says. Much of the new business Symtrax is seeing is occurring in the country of Malaysia. Australia is also a big driver of new deals, he says. In response to this new demand, Symtrax is increasing the staffing of its Asian headquarters in Mumbai, India, where it conducts sales and development activities. (High-level development is still done in France, where the company originated.)
JD Edwards customers will also benefit from a change in StarQuery 3.3 that should boost performance. "We were having a little bit of a performance issue going into the data dictionaries, so we brought the whole thing in memory, and it speeds things up significantly," Yacano says.
This release also brings the entire product up to date in the C# language. Symtrax predominantly develops in Microsoft development languages. It's using ASP.net and C# for the upcoming fall release of a new StarQuery for the Web product that will completely separate StarQuery from Excel for the first time.
Symtrax, which has been in business for about 20 years, has about 3,000 customers. While the majority of Symtrax customers are IBM i shops that run JD Edwards, BPCS, MAPICS, and other popular IBM i-based ERP systems, the IBM platform represents only about 30 percent of new deals anymore, as the company looks to other markets, such as the massive SAP market, for growth.
StarQuery 3.3 is available now. License deals for the software typically are in the $20,000 range for a large company, but can start in the "high single digits," or $5,000 to $9,999, for smaller installations. For more information, see www.symtrax.com.
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This article has been corrected. Symtrax is developing an upcoming Web-based query tool in C# and ASP.NET, not Java. Also, StarQuery is currently not supported in SAP environments, as the article previously stated. Pricing was also clarified. IT Jungle regrets the errors.
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