Working on a couple of projects with Infor BI, I have been using various components of the product quite regularly. Despite it being a well- known product in our organization (Fortude), it is not known to many. Hence, I thought it would be a good idea to write about the different components that make up Infor BI.
In simple words, Business Intelligence is delivering reliable and relevant information to the right people at the right time. There are three factors that make up a Business Intelligence Solution which are Data Warehouses, Reporting Tools and Dashboards. Information flows into a Business Intelligence platform through a step-by-step process called Extract-Transform-Load.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the front-end components involved with Infor Business Intelligence. Front-End Platform components are usually involved with Dashboards, Analytics, Budgeting and Forecasting on the web and mobile. The components involved with this platform are:
Infor BI Office Plus
This is the front-end Microsoft Excel integration which is used for ad-hoc analysis and reporting. The Office Plus architecture supports connections through database aliases to multiple data sources. The metadata of Office Plus is stored in a Microsoft SQL-Server or Oracle database whereas the business data is stored in an OLAP Server database.
Infor BI Office Plus Architecture
Office Plus consists of the following features:
- Ability to transform analytic views into standard reports using existing Excel functions.
- Basic and Complex report creation with the addition of Excel charts which can be connected to existing data sources.
- Ability to assess business information through sorting, ranking, color coding and other advanced analytics options.
- Ad-hoc reporting for browsing multidimensional databases by dragging and dropping elements into Excel.
- Splashing — write-back to aggregated cells and distribute the value using the flexible allocation methods. (Equal, Weighted, Copy, Like).
- Re-usable queries and connections.
- Visual Query Editor — List Designer.
- Formula reporting extend Excel with flexible data read and write functionality.
- Create and modify structures and cubes.
- Import and export of structures and data.
Infor BI Application Studio
This is a web-based front-end analytic reporting and budgeting tool which helps organizations make better strategic decisions as it gives you a better insight to the organization’s operations. Application Studio is usually used with an Infor OLAP database, but it is also able to extract data from other multidimensional databases such as Analysis Services and other relational databases such as SQL Server and then combine them into a report.
Application Studio consists of the following features:
- Simple to complex report creation without requiring coding skills.
- Uses the HyperBlock (a dimension inside a report) concept for dynamic reporting.
- Ability to use actions and variables, which allows you to build dynamic content.
- Ability to run the reports being built on the web.
- Allows exporting reports to PDF and Excel.
- Supports various chart types.
- Flexible conditional formatting.
Infor BI Dashboards
This is the framework for hosting the application in a web and mobile environment where you can monitor business goals. Infor BI Dashboard solution has the ability to integrate with the Infor ION infrastructure, which means that the dashboard reflects real-time data pulled from a business system. Most importantly, it integrates easily with the content being created with Infor BI Application Studio.
Infor BI Dashboards Architecture
Infor BI Dashboards consists of the following features:
- Easy self-service and user-friendly creation and editing of personalized dashboards in a browser or with the iPad application.
- Cost-efficient BI architecture to integrate ERP and OLAP data with Application Studio content in a browser or mobile application.
- Share your thoughts with your colleagues via Infor Ming.le
- Open to any web content
- Leverages Infor Motion Application Manager security
Now, let’s look at the components involved with the Data Layer and Modelling platform.
Data Layer Platform
Infor BI OLAP Server
This is an In-Memory OLAP database which sends multidimensional data using columnar storage into the modeling process. Infor BI OLAP Server only stores facts and compresses data as rows to share a vast amount of data. This is used for real-time, planning, modeling, and analysis, which results in improved business decisions and is accessible with native API, SMLA and SQL. Infor BI OLAP Server consists of the following features:
- Aggregations in hierarchies with factors.
- Dimension Rules and Cube Rules.
- Fine-tuned for write-back — It can handle a huge amount of data written back to the database. At the same time, it can handle concurrency quite well. If multiple users are writing to the database, it creates separate versions while the write-back is happening and synchronizes the versions once the write-back is completed. When someone is writing back, others can read the actual version of it.
- Number of dimensions per cube — 30.
- Elements per dimension — 10M.
- Base cells (facts) per cube — 2000M.
- Fine — tuned for write — back.
- Aggregations and calculations update immediately when base values change.
- Efficient data compression.
Infor BI Repository
This serves as a Meta Data store for all Business Intelligence tools. This stores the database connections, reports, queries, configurations and various types of meta data defined in applications. It’s a central hub for authentication which consists of basic (Built-In) and external authentication systems and Permission Management. It supports storage systems such as Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle.
Infor BI Repository consists of the following features:
- One Repository is equivalent to one Physical Database.
- One BI installation can hold multiple repositories and within one repository meta data can be grouped into logical units.
- Project is an Application.
- Consists of Catalogs such as Application Studio Report Catalogs, Office Plus Report Catalogs and Dashboard Catalogs.
- Check-in or Check-out and history functionality (When a user checks-in the report is available for others).
- Role based user and permission management.
Modelling and Data Transfer Platform
Infor BI Designer
This is a tool for designing and creating Infor BI OLAP Server databases. This component is an application modelling tool used to create data structures and application configuration.
Infor BI ImportMaster
This is an extract, transform, and load (ETL) layer that facilitates integration with both Infor and non-Infor source systems.
Infor Analytical Modelling
This is a web-based, drag-and-drop-oriented modelling tool for Business Vault.
In a nutshell, the above content gives an insight about the functionality and the purpose of each component in an Infor Business Intelligence Solution. Along with many advantages, certain components have their own limitations, which will be discussed when we look into each component in more detail. This will be covered in my next blog.
Thanks for reading!
Associate Consultant – Business Intelligence