Or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love SAP”.
I recently attended Business Objects Insight 2007 in sunny Orlando, Florida. This was my second year as a breakout speaker, with a presentation entitled Secure Universes Using Restriction Sets. For those expecting big news regarding XI 3.0 (code name Titan) or the next release of Dashboard Manager/Performance Manager (code name Allegro), there weren’t any large announcements during the general sessions; however, there were brief peeks throughout the conference (more about that later).
Of course, the first thing to be dealt with was the small matter of the upcoming acquisition by SAP. Both Bernard Liautaud and John Schwarz indicated that Business Objects would remain an independent organization with both staying on board to lead it. We’ll have to wait till the acquisition closes to learn more, but ideally an independent Business Objects can remain vendor neutral for the benefit of all customers but still create compelling solutions for SAP customers.The “major” product announcement from the conference was Crystal Reports 2008, which is currently in beta and will ship before the end of 2007. I didn’t hear a formal explanation, but I’m assuming that the “2008” designation (instead of XI 3.0) is intended to more clearly communicate to Microsoft Visual Studio developers which version of CR goes with VS. One of the major feature enhancements is the ability to integrate Xcelsius content into a Crystal Report. For those of us who are “traditional” Business Objects users, I’m assuming that similar integration will occur with other reporting tools in XI 3.0.
I was pleased to see that there were two presentations regarding publications, the topic of my Insight 2006 presentation, Getting Personal with Publications and Profiles. Publications are the mechanism Business Objects uses to supporting single pass report bursting. The first presentation was Publications Unleashed, presented by Don Kawahigashi from Integra Solutions. Don had some great examples from an actual customer installation on how to extend the publication capabilities in the current release, XI Release 2. The other presentation was entitled Publications- The Power of Personalization by David Brockington and Derek Wang from Business Objects. Their presentation was my first sneak-peek at the revised Central Management Console (CMC) in XI 3.0. The expected new feature was the addition of Web Intelligence as a supported document type (XI Release 2 publications require Desktop Intelligence). The surprise new features were the addition of Crystal Reports as a supported document type and Dynamic Recipients. With Dynamic Recipients, you can manage subscribers that do not have to be a Business Objects user. I’m anxiously awaiting the release of XI 3.0, which is slated for the intentionally vague “first half of 2008”.
From my perspective, Xcelsius was the most covered technology in the breakouts. The coolest breakout was Jeff Pelletier from AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular) describing how it was used to launch the Apple iPhone. I’m curious to see if and how Allegro will continue to integrate Xcelsius technology into the Dashboard Manager/Performance Manager products.
Curious was the announcement of a deeper partnership with IBM, which came the day after the conference. The delayed announcement probably explains IBM motivation for being a global sponsor of Insight 2007. The press release is sketchy on details, but it appears that a “limited” version of Business Objects will be distributed with IBM DB2.
No formal word on the location of next year’s conference, but I hope it will be sunny and warm.