Microsoft Announces Comprehensive Data Warehousing Strategy

PHOENIX Sept. 17, 1996 Microsoft Corp. today announced a comprehensive strategy aimed at simplifying the implementation of data warehousing solutions using Microsoft® SQL Server
. The strategy includes a unique combination of technology, services and alliances with leading industry vendors with the goal of making it easier for customers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to implement data warehousing solutions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

The specific components of Microsoft’s data warehousing strategy include the following:

  • Active Data Warehousing Framework, an extensible set of COM-based interfaces designed to simplify design, integration and management of data warehousing solutions

  • Microsoft Alliance for Data Warehousing, a Microsoft-led coalition that brings together the industry’s leaders in data warehousing and applications

  • Product enhancements to Microsoft SQL Server including new features for enhanced query processing, information delivery, data transformation, Active Data Warehousing Framework interfaces, and Internet integration

  • A service offering from Microsoft Consulting Services designed to enable customers to successfully plan, design and implement data warehousing solutions based on Microsoft SQL Server

“Microsoft is committed to making sure its customers can successfully implement data warehousing solutions using Microsoft SQL Server in less time and for less money than using competing solutions,”
said Jim Allchin, senior vice president of the desktop and business systems division at Microsoft Corp.
“Today we’re laying the groundwork to deliver on that promise with significant investments in technology, services and industry alliances.”

The Problem and Microsoft’s Solution

Data warehousing is complex today, and many projects fail because customers must integrate various components to build a complete data warehousing solution. The basic elements required to implement a data warehousing solution include data extraction and movement tools, data cleansing and transformation tools, a database management server, data analysis tools, and administration tools. Most of these tools do not work together seamlessly, which results in customers’ shouldering much of the burden of making all the pieces work together.

Microsoft’s solution to this problem is the Active Data Warehousing Framework, which provides a common architecture and interfaces for data warehousing solutions. Specific areas of data warehousing addressed by the framework include a meta-data model based on the Microsoft Repository, data acquisition and transformation services, data distribution and replication, and administration. The framework makes it easier for third-party vendors to integrate their products with Microsoft SQL Server and other components in a complete data warehousing solution. Using an open, COM-based architecture and designed in conjunction with third-party developers, the Active Data Warehousing Framework will enable customers to choose from best-in-class components for each layer in a data warehousing solution with the knowledge that all the components will work together simply and efficiently.

The framework will undergo a rigorous design review by the members of the Microsoft Alliance for Data Warehousing and other developers later this year using a design review process called Open Process, which has been successfully used to review other Microsoft technologies. During the Open Process design reviews, Microsoft developers will present the specifications and incorporate changes based on developer feedback.

Also announced today, the world’s leading data warehousing and application vendors have joined the Microsoft Alliance for Data Warehousing. The founding members of the alliance include Business Objects SA, ExecuSoft Systems Inc., Informatica Corp., NCR Corp., Pilot Software, PLATINUM technology inc., Praxis International and SAP AG. These companies are committed to working closely with Microsoft to refine the Active Data Warehousing Framework and deliver solutions to customers based on this technology. In addition, Microsoft and members of the alliance will cooperate in joint marketing opportunities.

Microsoft and NCR Corp. are expanding their relationship to address the scalability needs of customers. The combination of Microsoft SQL Server and NCR’s strengths in data warehousing – the Teradata database, NCR hardware, and consulting and integration services – provides customers with solutions that are both cost-effective and scalable. The companies will cooperate on technology, marketing and service efforts.

The next version of Microsoft SQL Server will feature many enhancements specific to key areas of data warehousing. New query processing technologies using advanced indexing technology, parallel query processing, powerful new join strategies, and data partitioning will boost database performance for complex queries. Expanded import capabilities will reduce data loading times, and data transformation services will allow sophisticated manipulation of inbound and outbound data. This version of Microsoft SQL Server is scheduled to be available in 1997.

To improve information delivery and ease of use, a new add-in for Microsoft Excel will allow users to pick from a list of predefined Microsoft Excel
“reports,” which can include spreadsheet data, complex PivotTable® dynamic views and charts. Users can access these reports using Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Internet Explorer. The data is refreshed from Microsoft SQL Server when the user opens the report. It is scheduled to be available in the fourth quarter of this year free of charge to customers from Microsoft’s World Wide Web site. Additional features to integrate Microsoft SQL Server and data warehousing functions with the Internet will also be included, such as the capability to replicate and distribute data over the Internet.

Microsoft also announced a new Technology Consulting Blueprint called Data Warehousing with Microsoft SQL Server. Part of the Microsoft Service Advantage portfolio of technical services for enterprise customers, Technical Consulting Blueprints from Microsoft consulting services (MCS) are a set of predefined consulting projects designed to help customers achieve specific enterprise technology objectives. The offering is a comprehensive consulting service that includes planning and recommendations to help customers design and build data warehousing solutions based on Microsoft and third-party technologies. The service is expected to be available to customers from Microsoft Consulting Services in November 1996 and from select Microsoft Solution Providers in the first quarter of 1997.

Microsoft SQL Server: A Popular Database for Data Warehousing Today

Microsoft SQL Server is already a popular data engine for data warehouses and for data marts among customers. Microsoft SQL Server enables customers to implement cost-effective data warehousing solutions in a timely manner. Microsoft SQL Server is easy to implement, offers superior price/performance and a complete infrastructure solution through its tight integration with the Microsoft BackOffice
family and other Microsoft products and technologies.

“Microsoft SQL Server takes the mystique out of geographical information systems, and it is a good platform for data warehousing and disparate data,”
said Jim Lewis, consultant for the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS) at Oregon State University.
“We’re excited about Microsoft’s data warehousing strategy and commitment to making it even easier to implement data warehousing solutions.”
COAS is engaged in research projects that focus on the role of the ocean in the Earth system. The COAS system uses an 80GB to 100GB database and involves a wide variety of data types, including images, video, audio and numerical information.

“Microsoft SQL Server is widely used by customers today for data warehousing applications, as evidenced by a recent study by the Data Warehousing Institute,”
said Alan Paller, director of research and education at the Data Warehousing Institute.
“The study shows Microsoft SQL Server as the second most popular database used in sites implementing data warehousing solutions, in use by nearly 25 percent of the customers surveyed.”
The announcements today confirm Microsoft’s commitment to customers using Microsoft SQL Server for their data warehousing needs.

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