BI for the Masses: An Update
This article was originally posted on March 17, 2009.
The most notable changes announced were regarding PerformancePoint Server, Microsoft’s BI product suite offering:
- Monitoring (formerly Business Scorecard Manager),
- Analysis (formerly the Proclarity suite of analysis tools), and
- Planning (an all-new financial planning and analysis tool, incorporating Excel and SQL Server).
Microsoft announced [note: video link, slow and choppy for me] that the Monitoring and Analysis components are being rolled into the Enterprise version of SharePoint Server, while the Planning module is being retired after some final updates/improvements to it in Service Pack 3, due out Summer 2009.
Part of the challenge I’ve always found (perhaps because of my own background in the Microsoft Business Solutions channel) in reading the tea leaves from Microsoft regarding business intelligence is the fact that there are multiple voices emanating from multiple product groups within Microsoft. Customers seeking planning capabilities still have the following options:
From the Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) side of the house:
Each of these products has its own strengths and weaknesses, but the salient point, as announced at Microsoft’s recent Convergence conference, is that all the other products will be subsumed into Management Reporter within the next five years according to Microsoft’s roadmap:
A few notes:
- These solutions focus on Microsoft Dynamics as the line-of-business data stores against which these performance management tools are reporting.
- I am very interested, but not particularly clear on, the intended integration between Management Reporter and Office (Excel client? SharePoint hooks? etc.).
- I also am a bit surprised that Enterprise Reporting, although it shows up on the roadmap and is arguably the most sophisticated FP&A (financial planning and analysis) tool in Microsoft’s arsenal now that PerformancePoint Planning was retired, has not had an update to its main web page, as of this writing, since 14 September 2004.
From the Application Platform and Business Productivity groups, the options center around:
Note the focus on tools/platform, rather than end-to-end solutions, which tend to be built out by ISV partners for a particular industry, etc., and the relative independence from line-of-business applications, compared to the MBS solutions above.
Additionally, something to watch for, based on Microsoft’s announcement at their Business Intelligence Conference in late 2008, is a hint about how they intend to bring BI “to the masses.” In their initiative code-named “ Project Gemini,” they are offering a way to more efficiently analyze data from Excel:
“Tapping into in-memory capabilities built into Analysis Services with the aid of an add-in to the Excel client, users will reportedly be able to slice, dice and filter vast data sets (into the millions of rows) without aggregations or prebuilt cubes developed by IT.” [source: Intelligence Enterprise]
In Intelligence Enterprise, Tom Casey, Microsoft’s General Manager for SQL Server Business Intelligence, pointed to how Microsoft envisions SharePoint, SQL Server, and Office working together:
“When people share their documents via SharePoint, Analysis Services ensures the management and storage of the data and the models implicitly created. That eliminates the problem of having a bunch of spreadsheets running wild because it ensures that users are interacting with common, centralized data.”
Not due until the first half of calendar 2010, and based on the next release of SQL Server (Analysis Services) and Excel, it’s a fair way off, but if this initiative lives up to its early billing, it could indeed be a game-changer for letting users perform analysis of large data sets “on the fly” with minimal assistance from IT. Watch the Microsoft BI Blog for news on this initiative.
So, the announcement of PerformancePoint being subsumed into SharePoint is not seismic, but here are a few salient details, per a recent SharePoint User Group presentation on the BI Roadmap:
- PerformancePoint will not be available for sales after 1 April 2009.
- If you own the SharePoint Enterprise Client Access License (eCAL) with software assurance, you will automatically accrue rights to the Monitoring and Analysis web parts.
- PerformancePoint Monitoring and Analytics web parts will debut with Office 14.
As your SharePoint initiative matures and you seek to drive more value out of the asset you’ve built, pay close attention to the investments that Microsoft continues to make in this space.
Originally published at https://mikegil.typepad.com.