Review: Panorama NovaView Suite

Editor's note: Updated 5-26 to correct pricing information.

Panorama Software’s Panorama NovaView is a suite of analytical and reporting software products driven by the centralized NovaView Server. There are two editions of NovaView: Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition. All NovaView components are installed on the server, except for NovaView Spotlight, which is an extension to Microsoft Office, so it’s installed on client machines.

NovaView currently ships only in an x86 build. The software is highly multi-threaded and has built-in support for connection pooling. The key hardware requirements are that the number of CPUs be proportional to the number of concurrent users (with a recommended minimum of 4 CPUs and roughly two cores per 100 users) and that enough physical RAM be present to run all the pnSessionHost.exe processes (with a recommended minimum of 4GB).


On the software side, NovaView requires Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003, IIS 6 or higher, .NET Framework 2.0 or higher, and Microsoft Visual J# 2.0. If you’re going to source data from SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) cubes, you’ll need a separate server installation with SSAS. NovaView can also work with many other mainstream enterprise data sources.

NovaView Server provides infrastructure services for the entire NovaView suite of client tools. It supports a wide variety of data sources, including the SQL Server relational engine, SSAS, Oracle, SAP, flat files, and web services. NovaView Server is a highly scalable piece of software that can support up to thousands of users and terabytes of data, according to reports from Panorama Software’s established customers.

The NovaView Dashboards, NovaView Visuals, and NovaView GIS Framework components provide the next layer of business intelligence (BI) delivery, including basic analytics and other visualizations. NovaView Dashboards provides a mature modern-day dashboarding product that lets you create complex views from NovaView Server. Both Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and charts are easily created and combined to form enterprise dashboards.

NovaView Visuals provides advanced information visualization options for NovaView Dashboards. For example, capabilities equivalent to ProClarity’s Decomposition Tree are included as part of NovaView Visuals. With one click, you can map out analytics that come from NovaView Analytics.

NovaView SharedViews represents a joint venture between Panorama Software and Google. This component lets business users publish their insights to the cloud for further collaboration. It requires a Google Docs account, and you can use it to supply information to non-traditional parties, such as company suppliers and partners. It’s easy to publish reports, and the reports look the same no matter which edition of NovaView Analytics you’re using. The product has its own security model to ensure your company’s information is available to only those you trust.

One of the most interesting features of NovaView is the company’s upcoming support for Microsoft ­PowerPivot. PowerPivot will be just another data source from the perspective of the NovaView suite. You might wonder why anyone would want to use another BI tool with PowerPivot. PowerPivot is an ­outstanding ­self-service BI product, but it’s also a version-one product. There are a few areas of ­PowerPivot that ­Microsoft has left to improve upon that NovaView will provide, including ­complex ­hierarchies, data security, and additional data visualization options.

NovaView offers end-to-end BI delivery, and it does it quite well. Panorama has clearly used its deep knowledge of OLAP and MDX to produce some of the very best delivery options on the market today. Businesses that are looking to extend their existing Microsoft data warehouse and BI solutions or make PowerPivot enterprise-ready should strongly consider NovaView. Given the sheer breadth and depth of the suite, it’s obvious that not all customers will need all of its ­components. Small-to-midsized businesses might find NovaView’s relatively high cost prohibitive.

Pros: All user-facing components are browser based; ­supports both OLAP and non-OLAP data sources; components are tightly bound; ­supports core needs of both business and IT users
Cons: High price; additional server components required; neither edition is as graphically rich or fluid as alternatives such as Tableau Software’s client
Recommendation: If you’re in the market for a third-party toolset to add ­functionality to Microsoft’s BI tools, your search is over. But if you only need a few of the suite’s functions, its cost could be prohibitive.
Rating: Four and a half out of five
Contact: [email protected] • 1-416-545-0990 •
Price: Server licenses range from $12,000 to $24,000, depending on configuration; client licenses range from $299 to $1,400

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