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BI Appliances

Business-intelligence software has historically been the domain of larger enterprises, largely due to the time and cost requiremed to implement. Smaller businesses with limited IT resources merely see BI as a 'wish-list' only item.

However, this is changing as several BI software vendors have introduced BI appliances.


BI Appliances

BI Appliances are boxes that are pre-configured with business intelligence software, providing a 'ready to go' solution. However, this 'box' still needs to fit into the data center. To get around that issue, BI appliances are going virtual.

For instance, Business Objects, one of the largest pure-play BI vendors launched its first virtual appliance in September 2007. There are two ways to deploy BI in a virtual world:

BI Appliances - solution is installed on any available box in its data center within an existing virtualization infrastructure, and includes:

  • A pre-configured, pre-optimized version of Business Objects Crystal Decisions
  • A ready-to-go database
  • Security protocols

BI Virtual Appliance - alternative, rather than a replacement for the 'hardware' BI appliances. Virtual BI Appliances require less IT involvement.

IBM, Cognos and Netezza all offer BI appliances loaded with Business Objects software A maintenance-free BI option is provided by Business Objects using [SaaS] software as a service.

The BI appliance is aimed at small and midsize businesses. With this market sector growing 50% faster than Business Objects enterprise business, this is providing a significant revenue stream for BI, heralding an ongoing interest with BI vendors to make business intelligence more accessible and more affordable.

To date, Business Objects and BI vendor, Panorama Software, are the only ones offering BI in a virtual appliance model. Many Business Objects customers are already running the software on a VMware infrastructure, but the virtual appliance approach will help SME businesses manage the investment in business analytics.

In spite of vendor hype that the virtual appliance can be operational within several hours, barriers to entry for smaller companies remain around ease of use, data quality problems, and the cost of good data architects and BI software licenses.

The solution is available both direct through the BO Channel and through VMware's Virtual Appliance Marketplace. About 600 virtual appliances are sold through VMware's marketplace. More Business Objects BI solutions will be available as virtual appliances in 2008.

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