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Chapter 22. Introduction to Crystal Ente... > Why Implement a Crystal Enterprise S... - Pg. 433

Introduction to Crystal Enterprise Note 433 For more information on the Crystal Management Console, see "Using the Crystal Man- agement Console," p. 598 How Crystal Enterprise distributes the information depends on the requirement. Crystal Enterprise provides a wide variety of viewers from zero client Web-based Dynamic HTML (DHTML) viewers to thick-client viewers installed on the client desktop. The distribution of information is not limited to reports but can be anything from XML files to Excel spreadsheets. Furthermore, the device on which the information is distributed is not limited to the PC. It can be a cell phone, printer, or PDA. In some cases, the information from Crystal Enterprise might not be viewed by a human at all, but uploaded into another computer system. The last statement brings up the topic of what is an information consumer. For the most part, an information consumer is a human who is reading (consuming) the information. However, the infor- mation consumer could be another computer system that requests that a file be transferred to it, or it could request the information via a Web service. For example, a nightly scheduled job could transfer a file to another system and this file is then uploaded (consumed) by that system. The key word in all of the above is information. The value that Crystal Enterprise and its content creation tools, Crystal Analysis and Crystal Reports, bring is the tools they provide to transform data into information. This transformation enables users to ask questions about how much inventory they have or what were their share trades for the day. This easy and efficient transformation of data to information is the real value of Crystal Enterprise. Why Implement a Crystal Enterprise Solution? Having defined what Crystal Enterprise is, the following sections describe some of the reasons why an organization would want to deploy a Crystal Enterprise infrastructure. Leverage existing infrastructure.The underlying objective of Crystal Enterprise is that is designed to be an open system and hence leverage existing infrastructure; for example, Enterprise can be installed on a variety of different operating systems. The open nature of Crystal Enterprise is illus- trated by its use of industry-standard programming languages, authentication methods, and appli- cation servers. The infrastructure can be extended using either the COM, .NET, or Java SDK, run- ning on some of the more commonly found application servers. This effectively means that one set of developers could be using .Net and another group could be using Java, but they need only a single instance of Crystal Enterprise running. Crystal Enterprise supports Active Directory, NT, and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) authentication and includes some preconfigured attribute mapping for iPlanet Directory Server, Lo- tus Domino Directory Server, IBM Secureway, and Novell Directory Services. If your LDAP server is not listed here, Crystal Enterprise was built to support the Version 3 LDAP standard and if your LDAP server supports this standard, integration could be achieved via custom mappings. Authentication is also available against common ERP packages, like SAP. This authentication is enabled via the installation of a solution kit available from Business Objects. Crystal Enterprise supports an out-of-the-box authentication known as Enterprise authentication (see Figure 22.1). Here the user is created and supported only within the Enterprise infrastructure. This is useful when the user is not supported on an LDAP or third-party authentication system, for example, an employee of the organization might have an Active Directory or Windows account; however, an external user, like a customer, most likely will not. Crystal Enterprise could be config- ured in such a way that the internal user has single sign-on and Crystal Enterprise authenticates itself against the Windows authentication and the external user is authenticated against the Enter- prise authentication.