Server-Based Vs. Desktop Data Visualization Products

“What’s the difference between InetSoft and [insert other data visualization provider here]?”

Oh boy. That is a loaded question.

While there’s an extensive list of advantages to our BI solution, there’s one attribute in particular that we’ve seldom addressed. InetSoft’s BI products are considered server-based enterprise data visualization tools, while several other companies’ solutions (Tableau, Spotfire, QlikView) could be described as desktop data visualization tools. Even if the visualizations can be published to the web, the development tool and paradigm are still desktop-focused.

But what impact does this have and why should you care?

Our product manager Byron Igoe was kind enough to provide the following four bullet points that neatly summarize the advantages of server-based over desktop:

  • Desktop tools need to connect directly to the data. Server-based tools allow clients to “connect” remotely.
  • Desktop tools develop a single view of the data, which can then be published.  Server-based tools provide automatic data security, so the same dashboard shows appropriate data based on the person viewing it.
  • Desktop tools use either a single dataset, or have a scripting language to pull multiple sources together. Server-based tools provide end-user data mashup, which is a drag-and-drop way of manipulating and combining data from many sources.
  • Desktop tools are targeted narrowly at analysts who have advanced enough skills to do the configuration and scripting necessary to build a dashboard. Server-based tools are targeted at a broad range of users, because the infrastructure only needs to be setup once and then mashups and dashboards can be created with nothing more than a mouse.

Thanks again to Byron for taking the time to explain this concept.   Please drop us a line if you have any questions or comments to add.