What is a Silverlight Dashboard
A silverlight dashboard is a collection of data charts and reports built on top of a business intelligence system like Cognos or Business Objects, designed to provide a visually rich, interactive data display to business users. Silverlight dashboards are a realtively new concept since the Microsoft silverlight technology itself is not very old. The silverlight dashboard is a potential alternative to Flash dashboards based on Adobe's Flash technology. Like the flash counterpart, the silverlight dashboard can indeed provide a visually rich and interactive user experience, but often at a significant disadvantage.
Benefits of a Silverlight Dashboard
With regards to benefits, there are two chief advantages of a silverlight dashboard. The first is interactivity; a silverlight dashboard can provide a rich environment in which to animate charts, provide tools for interactive data analysis and the ability to enhance data presentation. The second benefit to the silverlight dashboard is in the ability of silverlight to provide a richer color experience and one that is closer to what a user might experience on a desktop application.
Drawbacks of a Silverlight Dashboard
Despite the advantages, the silverlight dashboard also has a number of drawbacks. Two important ones are the lack of broad cross-browser and cross-platform support for silverlight. The silverlight dashboard therefore can be somewhat limiting in its ability to be deployed across an enterprise. Also of note is the silverlight dashboard's requirement for a higher performance PC than competing technologies.
The Silverlight Dashboard and Platforms
The first challenge of the silverlight dashboard is cross-browser and cross-platform support. While Microsoft is making inroads in bringing the silverlight technology to other markets, the availability of a silverlight dashboard plug in for Linux and other non-Microsoft operating systems is still a challenge. Beyond the availability of the plug-in, the silverlight dashboard also suffers from a lack of support on the browser side with many non-Microsoft browsers not yet offering a method for sliverlight to interoperate.
Performance and the Silverlight Dashboard
Beyond the browser problem, however, the silverlight dashboard also has a performance problem. The reason for the silverlight dashboard's performance challenge has to do with the nature of plug-in technology itself. Like a flash dashboard, the silverlight dashboard requires more CPU horsepower and higher CPU cycles in order to provide the visual interactivity and richness. The question for the silverlight dashboard then becomes a compromise between beauty and return on investment. Given the limitations of the silverlight dashboard and the higher CPU requirements, the silverlight dashboard is proving to be a short lived requirement for business intelligence systems