Database access firm BusinessObjects Inc, Menlo Park, California, has established a UK operation in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The company has a software package, BusinessObjects, which enables users to access relational database information without the need to know Structured Query Language, SQL techniques. With the system, a customer’s technical staff can create a range of objects, which […]
Database access firm BusinessObjects Inc, Menlo Park, California, has established a UK operation in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The company has a software package, BusinessObjects, which enables users to access relational database information without the need to know Structured Query Language, SQL techniques. With the system, a customer’s technical staff can create a range of objects, which can be deployed separately, or strung together by users, to generate database queries. The objects, which are selected by dragging and dropping from a menu, could for example, reference patient name, number and admission date in a hospital adminstration system. Hidden from the user, the objects generate SQL commands which are fired off to the database. The resulting information can be displayed by the user as a mix of reports, graphs and tables. Written in C and C++, the software comes with what the firm calls a universal dictionary – a set of object mechanisms which can be tailored to individual requirements – and an inference engine, which generates the SQL statements.
Dialects of SQL
The firm claims that three of its objects are as powerful as seven handwritten SQL queries, with 50 objects combining for up to 1m possible queries. All processes execute on the local client – not on the central host processor – and version control ensures the dictionary (list of objects) is downloaded only once to each client, on the first time of use. Information from existing database software engineering tools the customer may be using can be integrated into the BusinessObject dictionary at the entity level. The software recognises various dialects of SQL and is positioned as a data access tool rather than proprietary langauge or executive information system, although it combines elements of each. Information pulled from the database can be re-directed into other applications and EIS systems, but BusinessObjects does not update the database. The software is available for MS-DOS, Windows and Apple Macintosh systems and supports Oracle, Ingres, Sybase, DEC Rdb and IBM DB2. Unix, OS/2, OSF/Motif, Informix, Teradata, SQL/DS and SQL/400 support will be added this year. The company is talking to Sun about an Open Look port and is currently testing a Windows NT version. Specific device drivers are required for each relational database. Prices start at UKP8,320 for an eight-user, one manager system. 50% of the firm’s business is direct, the other half comes from independent software vendors writing database-independent applications using libraries of re-usable BusinessObjects. President and founder Bernard Liautaud, and director of UK operations, John Powell, hail from Oracle Corp, and it’s therefore not surprising the firm does most of its work at Oracle sites and with Oracle application developers. It is currently building a bridge between BusinessObjects and the Oracle CASE dictionary, with others planned. The three-year-old outfit started life in Paris, where 23 development staff are based. The rest of the 70 employees are located at sales and marketing operations in Menlo Park, Dallas, Chicago and New York with 10 in Marlow, UK. The privately-held firm claims turnover rose 250% to $6m in 1992 – UKP1m in the UK and expects that figure to double in 1993. It will add some 40 additional staff over the period. Two rounds of venture capital funding have brought in $3m – investors include France Telecom’s venture arm and Atlas Venture, a Dutch concern that helped Sequent Computer Systems Inc into the world. A third round of financing isn’t planned as Liautaud is looking towards initial public offering in around two years’ time. BusinessObjects claims 60 UK customers and 400 worldwide with sites employing BusinessObjects on databases storing as much as 12Gb of information. Work on new graphics, reporting and integration tools aimed at the excutive information systems market is under way, but the firm is steering clear of application development per se for the time being.