Microsoft looks to unlock door to wider BI use

Strategy will scale up size of data warehouses SQL Server can support and introduce an Excel-based user analytics mashup tool.

SQL Server may be one of the most popular databases among corporate users, but Microsoft is a relative laggard in the business intelligence market. It ranked just fifth among BI vendors last year, according to market research firm IDC.

But Microsoft last week detailed a multipronged strategy aimed at scaling up the size of the data warehouses that SQL Server can support into the hundreds of terabytes while also, in the vendor's words, democratizing BI within companies through the use of Excel and other Office applications.

In particular, Excel may turn out to be Microsoft's BI ace in the hole.

The ubiquitous spreadsheet is already the most popular front-end program among business analysts and other workers looking to display and analyze the results of BI queries, said James Kobielus, an analyst at Forrester Research.

Now, via a self-service analysis project code-named Gemini, Microsoft plans to develop "an Excel-based user analytics mashup tool" designed to make it easier for end users to build their own BI applications , Kobielus said in an e-mail. He called Gemini a "game-changer" for the BI market.

Some IT managers whose companies use SQL Server were also impressed by what they heard about Gemini, which Microsoft plans to ship as part of a BI-oriented release of SQL Server 2008 that is code-named Kilimanjaro.

Lacking Resources

David Smith, CIO at ServiceU Corp., an event management and ticketing services provider in Memphis, said his IT staff has "a limited number of man-hours" that it can devote to BI projects for end users. And he doesn't think ServiceU is alone in that regard.

"Microsoft has correctly determined that the limiting factor for most businesses to implement significant BI projects is the scarcity of IT resources," Smith said. In some cases, that means workers are shut out from using BI tools, he added. But to Smith, Gemini appears to offer a way of making analytic capabilities available on a much broader scale.

Mayur Raichura, vice president of information services at Long & Foster Real Estate, also thinks that Microsoft's plan will enable more users to analyze data without IT's help.

And Excel's ability to handle millions of rows of data in memory should make it possible for Long & Foster to examine large amounts of data from the company's transaction systems and its Web site search logs, according to Raichura. If so, that will "position us to deliver a better financial analysis in a real-time mode," he said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags sql server 2008micrsoft

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?