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Many software makers are adding Web-services technology to products as more customers demand easier ways to connect with computer systems. Business-intelligence vendor Spotfire Inc. is one of the latest independent software vendors to add the Simple Object Access Protocol to its products as an option for connecting to data sources. While customers can still connect using Java or Microsoft's Component Object Model, Soap gives them the option of an easier cross-platform communication mechanism based on XML, another emerging standard for connecting applications.
Spotfire next week will unveil DecisionSite 7.0, a set of analytical applications and graphical tools for connecting business-intelligence software to data sources, such as Oracle databases, enterprise resource planning systems, and even Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. With DecisionSite's designer tool, customers can import data schema, selecting the information that will be analyzed and who will have access to the results. The process is depicted as a graphical model that the tool translates as a database query in SQL that runs on Spotfire's own Java server, which is compliant with Java 2 enterprise standards. Customers also can configure DecisionSite analytics software to compare data or search for trends.
Infinity Pharmaceuticals Inc. is using DecisionSite 7.0, which is price from $25,000 to $50,000, to help research the effect chemical combinations have on human cells--the first step in creating new drugs. Infinity, which is less than 2 years old, built Soap interfaces into its Oracle databases to analyze research information using DecisionSite applications. The interfaces were built using Microsoft's Visual Studio.Net
As a new company, Infinity was able to start with a Web-services-based computing system, rather than migrate legacy systems to the new paradigm. "We're kind of lucky in that way," says Andy Palmer, CIO of the Boston company. Infinity chose Microsoft tools because it was interested in language independence--being able to use any application, whether it's written in Java, C++, or any other language. Palmer chose Spotfire because it supports Soap and fits into Infinity's environment--a requirement for any vendor looking to do business with the company, he says. "They have to have a Web-services architecture, and they have to support Soap."