IDS Streamlines and Secures DoD Reporting with BIRT

IDS-picImagine a web-based reporting application that manages financial and project data for some of the biggest projects in the largest department of the United States government.

An application accessing multiple data sources, used by thousands of people, and creating thousands of reports.

That describes the Comprehensive Cost and Requirement System (CCaR) by Integrated Data Services (IDS). In a recent webinar sponsored by Actuate, John Cole, the chief technology officer of IDS, described and demonstrated CCaR, which uses Actuate BIRT for reporting.

CCaR is used by more than 80 Department of Defense (DoD) groups to manage large acquisitions programs and their finances, often spanning branches and agencies. CCaR has thousands of casual users and 600 active users creating more than 5,700 reports.

Path to the Web

IDS launched CCaR in 1997 as a client-server application with ad hoc reporting tools developed in-house. When IDS decided to rewrite CCaR for the web a few years ago, its developers had to decide whether to create a reporting application from scratch (again), or integrate technology from a third party. Their specific requirements:

  • Reporting power should reside with users, with little or no IT involvement.
  • Reporting technology had to integrate into Adobe Flex, their chosen application framework.
  • The reporting tool had to tap multiple data sources with complex authentication and authorization needs – specifically, runtime data filtering based on user permissions.
  • The technology needed to comply with DoD security and pass DoD’s rigorous security accreditation.

Actuate BIRT met all of these requirements, and really stood out over two primary competitors for security. “It was the only product we found that could actually be customized to handle that requirement,” Cole says. Using the Report Server Security Extension in BIRT, IDS developers centralized user account creation and privileges. “That was an aspect our user community liked, because they didn’t have to hire on more people … to manage a separate set of user accounts in BIRT,” Cole says.

Fast Integration, Simple OEM Licensing

In addition to BIRT’s technical strengths, IDS liked BIRT’s integration capabilities and licensing. It took just a few months for IDS developers to integrate BIRT into CCaR (including testing), and Actuate’s OEM license model allows IDS to acquire software licenses and transfer them to its customers.

Of course, all of these strengths would mean nothing if CCaR didn’t deliver the goods. And it does.

CCaRs enables users to create and run customized reports on their own projects, and also consolidates data from multiple projects. In the past, individual groups had to collect data and forward it to headquarters, where somebody would consolidate the data and run reports – a manual process that could take weeks or months. “Now they can simply utilize the tool that’s inside CCaR and pull up all the reports they need” instantly,  Cole says. “The ability to get data in real time with the click of a few buttons has really changed how they do business.”

Developers creating large-scale reporting applications with complex security needs and multiple data sources can learn a lot from IDS. Check out Cole’s webinar, which includes a live demo and a Q&A session.



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