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Google Makes Pact with Key Microsoft BI Partner

Google and Panorama Software partner up to develop SaaS tool for Google Docs.


By John K. Waters

Google and Panorama Software partner up to develop SaaS tool for Google Docs.

Search giant Google Inc. is partnering with business intelligence (BI) company Panorama Software Ltd. to develop a Software as a Service (SaaS) analytics, reporting and data visualization tool for Google's free, online applications suite, the two companies have disclosed. The pact is noteworthy because the tool -- Panorama's NovaView BI engine -- is also licensed to Microsoft, which uses it as the basis of its SQL Server Analysis Services.

Panorama Analytics for Google Docs, now in beta, integrates the functionality of the Toronto-based company's flagship NovaView BI suite with the online spreadsheet program. It was released as a free desktop gadget that draws on a set of analysis, reporting, dashboard, visualization (charting) and data-modeling tools to create Panorama Pivot Tables. The resulting pivot table and charting functionality allows users of Google Docs spreadsheets and iGoogle dashboards to analyze their data "at a much more sophisticated and granular level," said Panorama's VP of Marketing and Strategy Oudi Antebi in a prepared statement.

Panorama and Office
Founded in 1993, Panorama pioneered Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) technologies, which provide multidimensional, summarized views of business data used for reporting and analysis (think "data cubes"). Microsoft acquired Panorama's OLAP tech in 1996, and rebranded it as SQL Server Analysis Services.

Panorama and Google have worked together before, establishing a thin layer of integration between NovaView and the online spreadsheets program. But this new collaboration could signal the start of a much deeper level of integration that mirrors Panorama's relationship with Microsoft, Ovum analyst Madan Sheina says. Panorama's strategy of making its lightweight-yet-powerful OLAP engine into a SaaS offering lines up nicely with Google's cloud-applications computing model, he tells RDN, and users shouldn't be surprised to see the company develop SaaS-NovaView integrations with Google's Web analytics and Internet advertising offerings.

Furthermore, the partnership gives Google an opportunity to do more than just drive greater use of its spreadsheet application among consumers, Sheina says. The company likely believes it will help with its efforts to attract small to midsize businesses that use Google Apps and want more enterprise-friendly capabilities.

ISV Opportunities
Panorama is also encouraging ISVs to follow Google's lead and tap into NovaView's APIs to develop customized SaaS BI apps. Sheina suggests that ISVs will see this integration as a new opportunity to write custom report templates, analytics and dashboards to help with corporate decision making and planning.

"The Panorama-Google offering now expands the range of free BI options for customers beyond just open source tools from the likes of Pentaho, JasperSoft and Actuate BIRT," Sheina says. "It could prompt Excel users to re-evaluate the per-set licensing they have invested in Excel as they consider the shifting dynamics of delivering BI from desktop to online [cloud] environments."

Overall, the collaboration is "a move that turns the heat up on Microsoft Excel," he says. But he adds that "Google still has some way to go before it can match Microsoft's BI capabilities in Excel, but this integration is a good start."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on ADTmag.com, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at john@watersworks.com.


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