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Hyperion links Brio and Essbase in its business intelligence suite

Nick Langley
Hyperion offers full online analytical processing capability.

What is it?
Business intelligence supplier Hyperion sells analytical application software for management reporting, analysis, modelling and planning. In 2003, it took over Brio, one of the smaller business intelligence suppliers. Hyperion now faces the challenge of integrating Brio with its Essbase Olap (online analytical processing) product to create a fully functional business intelligence suite.

Hyperion has had a long and productive relationship with IBM, which resold Essbase and now badges it as DB2 Olap Server. Partly thanks to this relationship, Essbase has a large customer base, but according to independent research resource The Olap Report, the Hyperion product has been in decline since Microsoft's Analysis Services were shipped in 2000.

The latest Hyperion Business Intelligence Platform combines Essbase 7 and the Hyperion (formerly Brio) Performance Suite. It is integrated with IBM's information management platform, including DB2 and Websphere.

Where did it originate?
Essbase was developed in 1992 by Arbor software, which hired relational database guru Ted Codd to write the rules for Olap. In 1998, Arbor merged with Hyperion Software, an Olap application supplier with roots in financial software. However, it took until 2002 to integrate the companies' product lines and sales teams.

What's it for?
The Hyperion Business Intelligence Suite includes query and reporting tools, analytical applications, "dashboards" aimed at management and information workers, and a suite of tools for developers. The MDX query language is used by developers to build customised business performance management applications.

Essbase is a multidimensional database that can be used as part of a datawarehouse or as the central business intelligence engine. With Essbase 7, the Olap capabilities previously used for historical data analysis can be used for predictive analytics. Like other business intelligence suppliers, Hyperion has added triggers and alerts to give real-time information about changes in business data.

What makes it special?
The Olap Report said, "Although Essbase remains under competitive pressure from Microsoft today (and Oracle in the future), Hyperion still offers a stronger and more complete set of financial Olap capabilities that are not equalled by those from any single competitor."

How difficult is it to master?
Hyperion offers a five-day "boot camp" to take you through Essbase design, maintenance, data loading and report building for £1,995. The Hyperion Application Builder uses Java 2 Enterprise Eedition.

Where is it used?
Hyperion claims to have more than 9,000 customers, including 91 of the Fortune 100 companies, although this needs the usual qualification that large companies tend to use more than one business intelligence product.

What systems does it run on?
Essbase was the first Olap server to ship on Linux; it is also available on IBM mainframes, Aix and OS/400, Solaris, HP-UX and Windows.

Not many people know that
Hyperion, a moon of Saturn, is the largest non-spherical body in the solar system. Its axis of rotation wobbles so much that its orientation in space is unpredictable.

What's coming up?
XML for Analysis (XMLA), a web services interface co-sponsored by Hyperion and Microsoft. The latest release of the Hyperion business intelligence platform supports XMLA.

Training
Classroom and online training are available from Hyperion. Courses including the Bootcamp are also offered by independent training companies. 

www.hyperion.com/uk/education

Rates of pay
Essbase developers can earn £35,000 to £45,000. Consultants and project leaders will get more.

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