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Crystal Enterprise Architecture Overview

The architecture of Crystal Enterprise is designed to provide organizations with a massively scalable information infrastructure that can be deployed and configured in ways that meet any business need. Although it is a multitier architecture that provides the services necessary to ensure that the system is scalable, it also can be configured in ways that make the most efficient use of physical machines and network resources.

The tiers within the Crystal Enterprise architecture, shown in Figure 3.1, are the client, management, processing, and data tiers:

  • The client tier consists of tools such as the Crystal Publishing Wizard for adding content to Crystal Enterprise, end-user Web applications such as ePortfolio (explained in Chapter 2, "Discovering the Crystal Enterprise Utilities") and administration applications such as the Crystal Management Console. Crystal Reports and Crystal Analysis Professional also belong to this tier. These rich reporting and analysis tools can easily publish their content to Crystal Enterprise from the client tier.

  • The management tier consists of services provided by servers registered with the Crystal Enterprise Framework to apply security to report objects as well as to manage, categorize, and store these objects. It also provides services that allow an organization to quickly and easily customize Crystal Enterprise to fit into its portals or custom Web applications. Web applications, such as ePortfolio, use the services of this tier.

  • The processing tier makes it possible for the reporting and analysis objects (Crystal Reports and Crystal Analysis Professional reports) within Crystal Enterprise to connect to a datasource available in the data tier and retrieve the appropriate information from a database, data warehouse, or multidimensional OLAP source required to create reports for users of the system.

NOTE

The processing tier is used for both on-demand querying of information and for scheduled requests for information.

Figure 3.1 The Crystal Enterprise architecture consists of three major tiers of functionality.

When organizations try to cross the business intelligence hurdle discussed in Chapter 1, "Introducing Crystal Enterprise," it's important to consider how that information is going to be managed, secured, and distributed. Crystal Enterprise was designed from its inception to solve the challenge of bringing together an organization's two most important assets—people and information—to make better, faster, more strategic decisions. To do this, it has been structured to discover properties of the reports that have been published to the system. By publishing reports to Crystal Enterprise, they are formal report objects, where each property of the report is held in a system database. The properties of the objects will be queried and evaluated more than any other effort within Crystal Enterprise. More will be reviewed on this topic later.

A key part of the Crystal Enterprise architecture is its modularity. Crystal Enterprise provides a series of objects that can be used to organize and manage the content, to secure it, and to manage servers used in an enterprise-reporting system deployment. Each object is represented by a component used by the Crystal Enterprise Framework to understand what type of object it is and what actions can be carried out when interacting with that object. The following section on the Crystal Enterprise Framework describes these components in more detail. This modularity allows Crystal Enterprise to be extended with new functionality, such as new content types or new security mechanisms, without the need for the system administrator to redeploy the system. By providing a modular architecture, Crystal Enterprise can be easily expanded for future reporting and information delivery applications.

Chapter 1 mentioned that Crystal Enterprise can play an important role in an organization's information delivery needs. One of the most important things that an organization must consider is how an information delivery system fits into its existing infrastructure. Crystal Enterprise was architected with application integration as a key design principle at all levels. This means that existing infrastructures, such as Web servers or database servers, already in use in a given organization can be fully leveraged by Crystal Enterprise. Crystal Enterprise can be seamlessly integrated into existing Web applications and portals that might be in use. (This is covered in later chapters.)

The remainder of this chapter provides details on the Crystal Enterprise architecture, what role each of the Crystal Enterprise servers performs, and the framework that makes it all possible.

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