It is up to an organization to adapt to and embrace technology in a way that adds value through improved efficiency, reduced costs and value-added service to customers. Many companies require their business systems to be running only versions of software that are fully supported by their vendor. In many circumstances, we find that companies are still using IBM Clarity 5 or 6, even though the life cycle of these product versions will come to an end. IBM (who acquired Clarity Systems in 2010) announced that the support for Clarity versions 5 and 6 will expire by the end of 2012.
A way to avoid a non-compliant situation is either to upgrade to the latest version, Clarity 7, or to choose a different Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software. This decision may vary depending on the organization. For instance, some companies may have invested a significant portion of their budget to implement and train their employees on the Clarity environment and would ideally prefer to remain on this platform.
The Advantages of Upgrading to IBM Clarity 7 Business Software
Clarity 7 incorporates the familiar look of Clarity 6, delivering an improved interface and new features. Upgrading to Clarity 7 rather than choosing a new product allows companies to use their existing system architecture and existing software (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Essbase, Windows OS). Also, time and budgets allocated to training are narrowed as final users are already accustomed to the Clarity environment.
IBM Clarity 7 was released more than 2 years ago and has several service packs and hot fixes, allowing it to reach its full potential. As standing proof, many of the Fortune 500 companies are using Clarity 7 as their current CPM solution.
Upgrade / Migration Effort
Normally upgrading software is a challenging and complex process that needs a good strategy. The data migration project has significant risks and requires proper planning and attention to ensure successful data and templates migration.
Clarity 7 supports Microsoft Analysis Services (MSAS), Hyperion Essbase and TM1 as OLAP engines and Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and DB2 as relational engines. In the event a company decides to change its database provider at some point, Clarity 7 can easily sustain that change. Existing Reports and Templates can be converted without the need to redesign them, resulting in less effort versus having to adapt to another CPM solution. In addition, the look and feel of the reports and templates remain the same for the end users.
Software life cycle
There has been recent concern that IBM discontinued the development of Clarity 7, (due to IBM’s Cognos TM1 platform) and organizations may need to switch to another CPM provider after all. This information is not correct, as IBM just released a new hot fix pack (Clarity Server 7.2.0: Hot Fix 5 (184.108.40.2065)) at the end of September and Microsoft announced its continued support for the Office Web components (that are used by Clarity) until 2017.
What’s New in IBM Clarity 7
Clarity 7 comes with many new features and improvements such as:
- Clarity Studio (tool based on Visual Studio with a built-in XML Editor) replaces the template builder
- Improved performance for Reportbooks functionality
- Block formatting enhanced to be applied to rows and columns
- Line Item Details are shown on the grid, not in their own popup
- Hierarchy security can also be applied on row and column ranges as well as page options
- Leveraging grid Named Ranges for optimized interaction
- Support for multi-database, multi-platform (Essbase, MSAS, relational) on a single template/report
- Ability to leverage industry standard XML schema rules for template creation and validation (template.xsd) and all features can be now handled directly in the XML
- Compression streaming between web server and web client
- Optimized query capabilities in Essbase and MSAS. Can use Calc Scripts (Essbase only) or MDX (Essbase and MSAS).
- One page option can incorporate and intersect member sets from different sources (other OLAP or relational DBs)
- Relational template popups can be used for any grid item – called ‘advanced editing’: No more VBA formulas required, as everything is in Excel
Upgrading to IBM Clarity vs. Choosing a new CPM solution
When choosing to upgrade, companies need to consider the cost, as well as the intangible benefits that the CPM solution can bring to an organization. Some companies may just require an upgrade, where others may decide to go with another CPM solution that can improve their business processes and growth. An upgrade to Clarity 7 can be costly, depending on the number of templates/reports as well as customization involved. In this case, considering a new CPM solution might be a viable option. Although upgrades introduce improvements and new features that continually increase efficiency in a company, a brand new change may also be an effective alternative.
Some of our leading CPM partners including Prophix, Tagetik and IBM Cognos can be one of the alternative CPM solutions that companies can use if they decide that they do not wish to upgrade their current solution.
How Can Obero Help?
Whether it is time for IBM Clarity 7 or to find out about other CPM solutions on the market, Obero is here to provide expertise at the right time with valuable resources. Our depth of experience and extensive proven practices help customers maximize their software investment and mitigate risks.
We’ve partnered up with the leading CPM vendors such as IBM, Prophix, Tagetik, so we can help clients choose, design and implement CPM solutions to fit their business needs. Obero is also here to help you with products issues, products questions, products enhancements and education.