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Weblication Technology

Author:  Hitesh Bhatnagar
Contributed by Brio Technology, Inc.

 

Weblication technology allows the management of confidential information that comes from anywhere within the organization (such as legacy, desktop, OLTP, and others). Information management includes the publication and access managed retrieval of disperse information formats and facilitates user access to all information from anywhere within the organization across an Intranet utilizing Weblication technology. There are several tools (ours is named Reports Crossroads) designed to facilitate and enable organizations to implement weblication publication and retrieval systems.

The most powerful of these tools are comprehensive server / browser report weblication systems to collect, manage, and deliver confidential information to users throughout the enterprise. They support Data Warehouse, domains, legacy reports, and all user desktop files, all with confidential access security at the report level.

It is the timely and consistent access to information that separates exceptional companies from the rest of the pack. CEO's, CIO's, and other senior executives must constantly seek tools facilitating the rapid deployment of mission critical information to all employees across the enterprise. Whether the information is related to quarterly sales revenues, current inventory status, new pricing, income statements, shipment details, or even status reports with attached spreadsheets, this information should be available on demand and around-the-clock, anywhere and anywhen. Information Warehouse technology allows this to be achieved.

Information technology departments often find it difficult, if not impossible, to distribute critical information across the enterprise in a timely manner. Weblication tools offer cost-effective solutions for distributing information to the entire enterprise using proven intranet and LAN technology and familiar browser interfaces.

Most competitive organizations have Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems (such as SAP, Oracle Apps, Baan or PeopleSoft). Many more have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and Data Warehouses or Data Marts. To free the information locked in their applications, leading companies have implemented OLAP and Querying tools to speed the generation of reports, but these solutions only serve a small fraction of the organization. Distributing information to the masses is impeded by the prohibitive cost and historical complexities of timely mass deployment.

Legacy information in the form of a report, document, or spreadsheet, is generated by diverse groups, often located at remote facilities. As a result, unified access to reports that exist in various formats and come from many locations stands as an operational challenge for any IT organization. Existing systems may be slow, but they sure are hard to use. Until now.

Weblication technology meets these IT demands head-on, empowering the enterprise by facilitating the flow of information. Some solutions are implemented to not only meet these challenges but to also be easy to use, secure, scalable and customizable. The architecture is usually flexible enough to allow the addition of new applications and reports as requirements grow without imposing organizational change.

80-20 Rule of Information Access

Reports are the most widely used means of information distribution in most organizations. These reports may be generated from ERP systems, CRM systems, Data Warehouses, any desktop computer, or even your vendors or partners in a proprietary format. Other sources include reports from querying, OLAP, and Data Mining tools that serves at most 10-20% of the people in an organization. Weblication technology is a product that makes it easy to quickly distribute information to the many, not just the few, thus allowing higher levels of performance across the board.

Most of your employees have neither the know-how nor the time to use sophisticated drill-down tools. They require information in the form of standard and parameter-ized reports and they want it on time. They are the people who are difficult to serve through traditional information distribution technologies.

So the question CIO's ask themselves becomes: "How can my company automate access to confidential information across "group" boundaries in a secured manner from any source to any desktop/notebook computer on demand at a very reasonable price!"

Weblication technology serves information to the masses and brings in the true information democracy. Weblication technology lays the foundation of an information access architecture for a true Enterprise Reporting system. Its components are 100% Java-based and leverage existing web technology to deliver a cost-effective solution eliminating installation logistics and most training requirements. A Java-enabled web browser is all that is required on the users desktop.

Weblication technology provides the unified framework required to enable integrated information access across the Intranet through a single user interface. It delivers reports from applications like ERP, CRM, Data Warehouse, Data Marts, and any other desktop application. End users no longer need to struggle with different tools to access the reports needed to get their work done. Weblication technology intuitive web interface is the only user interface they need to access information regardless of data format or origination platform.

An organization typically uses several tools to generate reports. Some of the commonly used tools are WORD, EXCEL, Business Objects, Oracle Report Writer, SQR, etc. In such a multi-tool environment, a user is subjected to the repetitive steps of first locating changed reports files (awareness), then invoking the correct application, then finally telling that tool to view the specific file desired. Weblication technology provides access to the reports from different applications through one common interface. Users will not be required to 'learn' different tools to access information. Weblication technology web interface will be the only user interface users will need to use.

Multiple Formats

In the Weblication technology environment, the reports can be virtually of any format. Reports generated in PostScript, Text, Pdf, HTML, Audio, Video, SLK, GIF, JPEG, and any other application-specific formats can be accessed by users under the same common interface.

Information Security

Security is always one of the key concerns when providing access to information on the web. In Weblication technology, access to applications and reports are provided through identification, authentication and authorization domains. Every user requiring access to Weblication technology is defined with a unique login-id and password in an authentication domain. The security architecture is modular and configurable. It is possible to replace Weblication technology authentication model with third party modules using Weblication technology security API. Similarly, the authorization domain of Weblication technology can be populated from other data sources within an organization.

User Tools

Users access Weblication technology through their standard Java-enabled web browser. After authentication, users are presented with a list of reports that they are authorized to see based on their user profiles. The reports may be in any format. Users just double click on the report title and the appropriate viewer or application is invoked. Any report that a user is not authorized to view will not even show up on the user report list.

History: For each report, the system maintains a generation history of reports allowing the user to select either the current or prior versions. The number of generations of each report is configurable on a report-by-report basis.

Annotation: Users may communicate with other users in the enterprise by attaching comments as an annotation to the report instance. Users can even annotate an annotation.

Search: User could search for keywords in the report titles allowing the user to filter the desired information.

Customized View: The user may also filter the report list and get only reports pertaining to a particular application area. This allows users to see their reports under a 'subscribe & publish' paradigm.

End User Publishing: Any end users may publish reports. The user publish feature lets the user-base leverage the Intranet technology to distribute reports developed by them to others in the organization. Users are empowered to publish, submit to a moderator, or are prevented from report submission at a report group level, thus allowing workgroups to communicate via Weblication technology.

System Administration

Weblication technology administration tool provides the ability to define and customize the implementation environment. The user interface to this tool is browser based. A Super-User defines the administrators for each application. The ADMIN tool allows application administrators to manage their applications, including authorization domains within their applications, reports, users, user profiles, search keywords, etc. The administrators use the Control Center to assign or change users' authorization. New users are created by application administrators and are granted access to applications and reports in the security domain.

Automatic Report Updates

In most cases, production reports are produced on a predictable schedule. As a result, the data content of many of the reports available on Weblication technology web server will change at regular intervals. The frequency of these changes may vary from a few hours to a few months, depending on the type of data and organization practices. Weblication technology batch interface allows administrators to define report source locations, and automatically update the reports. Likewise, an on-demand publishing capability is fully implemented via the user interface, allowing non-scheduled reports to be integrated into the Information Warehouse.

Scalability

The architecture of Weblication technology is scalable. Based on the number of reports, applications, geographical distribution of user base and the speeds of the Intranet environment, organizations can scale the components of Weblication technology to provide better performance to access reports.


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