90 Degree looks to corner BI with Radius

Sure to be attractive to potential users

Opinion Back in April, I reported on 90 Degree Software which was at that time developing its product (called Radius), which has now been released. This is an update to that previous article.

90 Degree Software is a privately owned, self-funded company that was established last year in Vancouver. Now, anyone who knows anything about the BI and reporting markets will know that Vancouver was the home of Crystal (now part of Business Objects) and therefore it will come as no surprise to hear that many of the leading lights in 90 Degree Software are ex-Crystal.

The aim of 90 Degree Software is to enable users to get more value from existing BI investments. That is, it is primarily intended to allow you to create reports that reuse existing business intelligence assets. In other words, you can combine existing spreadsheets, SQL Server reports, graphs and charts, key performance indicators or other information into new reports. The key is that the product provides a search capability that helps you to find the element or elements you are looking for, and then there is a simple facility for inserting that data into your report. In other words, you are re-purposing information rather than re-creating it.

A key point is that the user does not need to understand anything about the information he is re-purposing. In particular, you don't need to know its location or the relevant metadata. Moreover, the user will be automatically notified if the original source of data changes.

There is quite a lot more: the use of caching for example, run-time and design time APIs to support ISVs, the product's peer-to-peer architecture, and so on. It is also noteworthy that you can use the tool to create new reports in a conventional manner but this is very much a ‘me-too' facility as opposed to the re-purposing discussed above.

Radius is highly Microsoft-centric and, while it is not dependent on them, the product has being developed to leverage both Vista and Office 2007. Further, it has been designed to extract information from Microsoft Reporting Services, though the architecture of the product is such that it can easily be extended to support other environments such as Business Objects Crystal or Cognos ReportNet in the future.

Radius could reasonably be described as a reporting tool for Office. As such, it is sure to be attractive to potential users (who will probably be mainly in the mid-market) as well as, should the product prove to be successful, to Microsoft. I think that Radius is probably a sure fire thing so arguably the most interesting question is how long it will be before 90 Degree Software's exit strategy pays off.

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