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Rosetta Stone to address legacy reporting tools

Lots of companies have legacy reports. So the question is, what do you do with the legacy reports? Well, ideally, you would like to redevelop them all. But that takes time and is costly, writes Phil Howard of IT-Director.com.


Market Analysis

Rosetta Stone to address legacy reporting tools
Lots of companies have legacy reports. This is what happens: one department in the organisation licences product X and develops a bunch of reports to support its activities. Then corporate comes along and says that the whole enterprise is going to standardise on product Y. And, of course, things may not be as simple as this: you may have 15 different departments with hundreds of reports that have been developed using half-a-dozen different reporting products.

So the question is, what do you do with the legacy reports? Well, ideally, you would like to redevelop them all. But that takes time and is, therefore, costly. Moreover, there is no direct business benefit: you are merely redeveloping what is already there. All you get is some easier manageability. Even ease of maintenance may not be much of an issue since most reports are pretty much stable once they are developed, and don't require much change.

The upshot of all of this is that the vast majority of enterprises have all sorts of legacy reports out there that they would like to replace but for which the task is too expensive and not cost-justifiable.

Moreover, the issue is getting worse. With Microsoft releasing SQL Server Reporting Services there will be customers wanting to move to that environment because, in true Microsoft fashion, they are providing the license to develop and deploy reports at no cost to those organisations that have already licensed their database platform. In addition, Business Objects' takeover of Crystal Reports and Hyperion's acquisition of Brio are both having an impact on the market, particularly in light of the fact that Hyperion used to resell Crystal products.

Rosetta Stone is shortly to launch "ReportConverter": a facility that will convert, in so far as it is possible, a report from one format into another. I say "facility" rather than product because Rosetta Stone is primarily developing ReportConverter to help to drive its services business and, in any case, report conversion is typically a once-off exercise rather than something that you will want to licence on an on-going business. The exceptions are that Rosetta Stone may licence ReportConverter to other, perhaps overseas, companies that have the same business model as Rosetta Stone and it could OEM the product, or partial versions, to vendors that wanted a 'migration to' option..

The way that the product works is a bit like a metadata-level ETL (extract, transform and load) tool in that you extract the source schema, map that into a neutral schema, and then map that to the target schema. The source and target capabilities have to be specifically defined by Rosetta Stone and the company has focused on Crystal, Brio and Microsoft Reporting Services in the first instance. The next likely development is for customers wanting to move away from Oracle Discoverer.

Of course, ReportConverter can't do everything. With a very simple report you might get close to 100% automation in the conversion process but more complex reports will require some manual effort. Nevertheless, Rosetta Stone estimates that an average of 60-85% automation is achievable. While that still doesn't make the conversion of legacy reports free, it does make it a lot more affordable and that's potentially good news if you want to to standardise on a single reporting tool.


Copyright 2004. Originally published by IT-Director.com, reprinted with permission. IT-Director.com provides IT decision makers with free daily e-mails containing news analysis, member-only discussion forums, free research, technology spotlights and free on-line consultancy. To register for a free e-mail subscription, click here.

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