Best Choice for Enterprise Reporting Product 
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 Best Choice for Enterprise Reporting Product

Our shop is fairly new to the PC/NT arena; we have been VAX/VMS for
years.  Gradually we are moving to NTs and client-server apps.

The need has arisen for a reporting tool, and I immediately thought
"Crystal Reports".  We need a package that will serve not only as a
plug-in to our development activities (VB and web-based apps) but that
will operate stand-alone against databases such as Access, MS SQL
Server, and Oracle 7.x/8.x.

Having researched Crystal Reports Pro 7, it appears that it will do
all of the aforementioned (and then some).  But I'm making a decision
that will affect our enterprise for years to come, and so I need to
dig a little more; I hope y'all don't mind if I start here.  :)

My questions: who is/are CR's main competitor(s)?  And how do they
stack up?  So far everything that I've heard points to CR as the
standard.  I just want to make sure we don't overlook another valid
option.

Thanks in advance.

Ken Kitchen/System & Database Specialist
City of Chattanooga Information Services



Sat, 08 Dec 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Best Choice for Enterprise Reporting Product
Ken:
I'm not trying to confuse the issue, but you might also want to have a
look at Seagates's Crystal Info product as well. It's the same report
writer as Crystal Reports, but is has some potnetially interesting
scaling, security and scheduling capabilities and is touted as Seagate's
enterprise product. Near as I can tell, it can be cheaper overall than
Crsytal Reports once you pass about 60 users or so. BUT (big but!)
because it provides most of the report server infrastructure for you,
you can't access the reporting engine through VB to the same degree as
Crystal Reports. Kinda depends what you ultimately want to do. Now, onto
the competitors ....

Depending on how much (or how little) end-user reporting capabilities
you need, some Crystal Reports competitors to check out would be
Arpeggio, Actuate, ActiveReports and VSView. The only issue from your
perspective might be the long-term viability of any of these companies.
There's been a few Crystal Reports competitors over the years that
introduce promising Version 1 products and have then faded away or just
plan vanished. Not great for long-term strategic plans!

For Crystal Info it could be one of various products from Brio, Cognos,
Sqribe, Business Objects, Actuate (again) and even Oracle if you use
their DBs. Sorry if I've left out someone's personal fave, but these
seem to the biggest, if not the best. Also, I doubt there's much of a
longevity issue with any of these companies.

Good luck with your homework!



Sun, 09 Dec 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Best Choice for Enterprise Reporting Product

Crystal Opinion:

Crystal is a great product if you stay within certain boundaries. I've tried
pushing the envelope of Crystal's capabilities many times and got burned
each time. I've introduced more workarounds than I can remember...

Also: Don't believe all their horn tooting. For example: Seagate claims that
they can export to all sorts of formats (and they do) but if you try
anything fancy at all, the conversion will not resemble anything that
appears in your CR designer.

On a nutshell: We've commited to Crystal but wish something more solid.



Sun, 09 Dec 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Best Choice for Enterprise Reporting Product

Quote:
>I'm not trying to confuse the issue, but you might also want to have a
>look at Seagates's Crystal Info product as well. It's the same report
>writer as Crystal Reports, but is has some potnetially interesting
>scaling, security and scheduling capabilities and is touted as Seagate's
>enterprise product. Near as I can tell, it can be cheaper overall than
>Crsytal Reports once you pass about 60 users or so. BUT (big but!)
>because it provides most of the report server infrastructure for you,
>you can't access the reporting engine through VB to the same degree as
>Crystal Reports. Kinda depends what you ultimately want to do. Now, onto
>the competitors ....

This is what we have found out. Our multi-national corporation is
using Seagate Info report servers. It does have some qute features,
such as scheduling, load balance and info-clustering. Those features
are MUST for corporations trying to deliver 24x7 reporting
infrastructure.

However, the features Crystal Report Designer can offer programmers is
not very promising. At first, it looks like a good and feature-rich
product. Believe me, it is not when it comes to the ERP level
databases (Baan in our case). Having able to do complex business rules
is very difficult/impossible to implement.

It OK for stand-alone crystal engine as we can use VB/Delphi/C++ to
parse data to more simplified format and use it as a datasource. We
have used this component (http://www.suprasoft.com) to offer Delphi's
native dataset directly to Crystal reports as a valid datasource.

However, Seagate Info server does not provide such methods and are
unable to use VB/Delphi/C++ programs as a valid datasource. All you
can report is what Crystal Designer can offer you, but it is not
enough.

Wish they had a feature to use CORBA, DCOM, JavaBeans-RMI components
as a valid datasource.

========================================
Valmet Corporation
aki "dot" nieminen "et" valmet "dot" com
"call me, if you need your own copy of paper machine"



Fri, 14 Dec 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 
 [ 4 post ] 

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