Enterprise Reporting a Critical Corporate Resource
Enterprise Reporting Tools are a key requirement in today's business environment; Data Marts, Data Warehouses, outside data sources, and even legacy systems need to be tapped to provide the information the business needs to survive and prosper. There is no one tool that is going to meet every reporting requirement. While there are tools that provide broad support, there are others that are specifically designed for certain niches. Here the discussion will be restricted to the more broadly applicable tools. There are certain key requirements for any tool.

Industrial Strength: Enterprise Reporting Tools must be able to develop complex reports from a variety of data sources.  They must have the capability to manipulate data, perform complex calculations, subtotals, percentages, etc.  In an ideal world the data is all clean, well mapped and in a relational store.  In the real world that is often not the case.  In order to meet Enterprise needs these tools must be able to over come such obstacles without having to wait for an extensive system redesign, or Database Administrator (DBA) support.

Read Multiple Data Sources:  In the ideal world all the data is in a relational Data Warehouse. In the real world data resides on a number of different systems that can include any number of data storage systems - DB2, IMS, IDMS, VSAM, ISAM, Flat Files, PC sources such as DBase.  The list of possibilities is long.  A tool has to be able report from any of these sources and at times from more than one.

Platform Independent: There was a time when IBM'S MVS was THE PLATFORM.  UNIX was an academic curiosity, PC's weren't that powerful and just did word processing and spreadsheets, DEC was confined to engineering.  That time is well past. Now an organization can have a variety of platform that range from MVS, UNIX, AS/400, Windows NT, LINUX. A reporting application can start off on a PC and move to an MVS production environment or the other way around. An tool needs to be able to make that transition with very little change in code.

Productive: There are really two parts to the productivity question. The first is a pure cost issue.  How much effort does it take to produce, and maintain a reporting system.  How efficiently will it run? In other words, what are the true life cycle costs. The second part of this is how quickly can the organization react to fast changing business needs? This second is as important as the first if not more important. It makes little sense to have a tool that is 'inexpensive' yet let's the business down at crunch time.  When tens of millions of dollars are resting on the ability of the organization to get the right data in the right peoples hands; it's not time to discover that you have to go through a database redesign and reload to accomplish it. As Jack Welsh says execution is what counts.

How well does your solution stack up? We have developed a very quick Enterprise Reporting Test that will allow you to evaluate how well a product stacks up to these requirement

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