When you hear the term “business intelligence” (BI), what comes to mind? For most people, the term conjures up images of reporting and analysis solutions. Jedox’s Palo Server, an in-memory OLAP data server (MOLAP) that provides open-source BI functionality, takes BI one step further. “When talking business intelligence, we don’t only mean reporting and analysis. We are also talking about planning, real-time consolidation, and top-modeling capabilities,” says Kristian Raue, the founder and CEO of Jedox.

As an in-memory product, Palo Server can retrieve data faster than relational databases and improve system performance. Although in-memory technology somewhat limits the amount of megabytes you can store, it has a higher compression rate than relational databases, according to Raue. Many vendors are beginning to move toward in-memory technology, including Microsoft. Microsoft’s “Project Gemini” will be an in-memory analysis solution and will be able to do some of what Palo Server can do today. Whereas Gemini will likely be focused on data analysis, Palo Server focuses on both the analysis and planning sides of BI. “I think it’s important for the people who are using SQL Server that they have a chance to use in-memory technology inside Excel, today,” says Raue.

Palo Server is complementary to SQL Server and lightweight. “We’re not so much addressing IT people … we’re really addressing more the business users, so a lot of the administration work that you would need for Palo can really be done with people who have Office or Excel knowledge. They don’t have to be highly IT. They don’t have to understand what a star schema is or what a snowflake schema is or what a parent-child relationship is. It’s a lot easier for them. That’s the reason why we’re very popular, especially with the financial controllers and sales and marketing departments, because they can work with Palo almost as easy as they can with Excel and still have the power of the centralized multidimensional database,” says Raue.

Jedox offers several server applications that extend Palo Server’s functionality, including applications that extend Palo Server’s web reporting and data entry capabilities. The current version, Palo Server 2.5, offers increased speed, a calculation engine, compatibility with the ODBO/MDX standard, and support for Microsoft Office 2007’s ribbon UI, among other things.

As I mentioned earlier, Palo Server is available as both an open-source solution or as a commercial license. “All the functionality that our competition also offers, that’s under the open-source license.” Although the commercial versions (professional, enterprise, and government editions) provide more functionality, according to Raue, “We have a lot of people who are building full-scale and fully functional BI solutions only from the open-source components.”

Palo Server is licensed per server, but Raue says “The nice thing about Palo is that it can be installed on any client machine if you want to have like a local data store or a local data, or it can be installed on a server so you have like work groups for people who can work on the same data.” Palo Server runs on Windows, Linux, and UNIX. A new version of Palo Server is expected to be released by the end of the year. For more information about Palo Server, visit www.jedox.com