InetSoft is a business intelligence vendor that is not well-known but has more than 3,000 customers. Why do you need to know about another BI vendor? As I’ve written in the past, there’s a place in this market for both the megavendors and smaller vendors. InetSoft, one of the latter, has developed a broad set of capabilities over the years that have resonated with its customers. It recently announced and brought to market a significant new release, Style Intelligence 11.
InetSoft’s BI capabilities include dashboards, visualization, enterprise reporting and access to a variety of data sources. While previous releases delivered these capabilities in separate products, Style Intelligence 11 integrates them all into a single product. InetSoft has also architected its components to make them reusable and sharable. The product provides a range of capabilities: Style Report for reporting, Style Scope for dashboarding and visualization, and Style Intelligence, which includes all these capabilities plus advanced data source connectors for OLAP and ERP access. In addition Style Studio integrates a range of these capabilities into one framework for rapid assembly of analytics and information for meeting specific application needs.
InetSoft’s dashboarding with Style Scope also includes the interactive visualization and data exploration capabilities as well as more traditional portal-style displays using graphical objects such as tables, charts, gauges and maps. Visualization includes a variety of interactive multidimensional chart types as well as brushing to highlight selected data elements in multiple related views. The dashboard components can also be used for both input and output. So in addition to displaying data, the dashboards can be used to gather it, thus enabling what-if capabilities. Email alerts and notifications can be generated including dashboard snapshots that enabling viewing offline; this overcomes one of the common downsides of dashboard-based applications.
The InetSoft architecture reflects the maturity of the product gained over 15 years of development. Several performance and scalability features are built into the product, such as connection pooling to minimize database resource requirements and clustered deployments for increased scalability. The data access architecture, referred to as Data Blocks, provides data mash-up capabilities for rapid prototyping and self-service data integration. An intelligent caching scheme provides enhanced performance when accessing remote data. InetSoft also provides built-in connectivity to a variety of data sources including relational databases, OLAP cubes and applications from salesforce.com, SAP, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel. In addition, InetSoft incorporates a security model that provides fine-grained access down to the cell level for users, roles and groups. It also supports single sign-on to leverage existing security models and makes it easier for authorized end users to access the system.
To broaden its market further InetSoft needs to make additional investments in mobile capabilities. The current product, although browser-based, has no specific mobile capabilities and uses Adobe Flash technology, which would make it difficult to support Apple iOS devices such as the iPad and iPhone which is now emerging as more important though could operate on other smart phones and tablets from Android, HP and RIM. OEMs constitute about half of InetSoft’s business today, based in part on how easily this J2EE application can be embedded in other software systems. And while the product appears ready for the cloud with multitenancy and clustering capabilities, there is no cloud version yet but most of the BI vendors do not offer it either. I suspect the OEM market might begin to demand both cloud and mobile capabilities as identified in our recent business analytics research.
All in all, InetSoft offers a broad set of business intelligence features in a well-integrated, lightweight architecture. Its ability to provide rapid assembly of analytics and information is what our research into information applications and business intelligence has found to be critical for business analysts to meet the pressing needs for publishing information. This approach of application assembly is not found in most of the BI vendors products today and is a key differentiator for InetSoft to help organizations deliver business analytics in a simple and usable form. It isn’t the biggest, most established vendor in the market, but it does have a product proven by thousands of customers already. For those of you looking for an alternative for your BI needs, InetSoft may be worth considering and easy to take a look at the product here.
David Menninger – VP & Research Director