i2 Technologies announced recently its plans to integrate Hyperion Essbase
OLAP server into its TradeMatrix platform for business-to-business e-commerce.
The combined capabilities of TradeMatrix and Essbase are expected to be
released by the third quarter of calendar 2000. Like other reporting tools,
Essbase can analyze data in a variety of ways to give users a means to
understand and make decisions about their enterprises as presented by
planning tools such as i2's TradeMatrix.
i2's decision to incorporate its TradeMatrix applications to Essbase is
in many ways an admission that its native reporting capabilities fail
to offer users adequate variety and flexibility. Though i2 has resold
Hyperion with its RHYTHM suite for several years, the recent move is
intended to effect a true integration between the two products.
i2 has heretofore addressed reporting limitations by either writing custom
reports in Excel with VBA or using its Business Process Intelligence (BPI)
tool. The main drawback of BPI is that it can only be implemented on top
of i2's Advanced Data Warehouse (ADW), which many clients do not need,
especially where they implement just one or two RHYTHM packages. A dedicated
interface to Essbase can allow i2 to offer connectivity to a reporting
tool that supports a large number of database platforms, such as DB2,
Oracle, Informix, Sybase, SQL Server, and ODBC sources.
Users who are evaluating TradeMatrix should view with favor the announced
integration to Essbase. Before allowing it to influence their final decision,
users should include in their RFI a detailed description of the types
of reporting capabilities they need, all calculated quantities, accumulations,
trend analyses, and other slice-and-dice requirements. Rather than depend
on verbal assurances from i2, users should ask these features to be demonstrated
so that it is clear that the software can support the requirements.
should also make sure they understand which product, TradeMatrix, Essbase,
or the BPI tool, actually performs the reporting tasks and how well integrated
these capabilities are to planning functions. A common limitation for
both i2 BPI and Hyperion Essbase lies in data mining capabilities. i2
does plan to offer data mining using software acquired through its alliance
with IBM, but a specific offering has yet to be announced.