Microsoft Empowers Enterprises to Think Bigger About Business Intelligence

SEATTLE — Oct. 6, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today kicked off its second annual Microsoft Business Intelligence (BI) Conference 2008 by announcing groundbreaking new technologies that will enable enterprises to bring the power of BI to information workers organizationwide.

The company introduced new managed self-service analysis capabilities code-named “Project Gemini,” and self-service reporting upcoming in the next release of Microsoft SQL Server focused on BI — code-named “Kilimanjaro.” Alongside this Microsoft will also deliver advanced data warehousing functionality being developed under the project code-named “Madison.” These new tools will empower companies to extend the benefits of BI across their ranks to information workers with minimal reliance on IT to help drive smarter, quicker decision-making, free up IT staff for more valuable activities, and dramatically drive down deployment costs.

“Microsoft’s goal is to transform the way companies think of BI through familiar and intuitive business-friendly tools that help them unlock the power of BI across their organizations,” Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division told the more than 2,500 conference attendees. “If you know how to use Word and Excel, then you’ll be able to use our BI — that’s our commitment to customers.”

Managed Self-Service BI

Ted Kummert, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Data and Platform Storage Division, showcased “Kilimanjaro,” which will further enrich SQL Server’s BI capabilities while providing a robust and scalable data platform capable of supporting the largest BI deployments. “Kilimanjaro” will include a set of new, easy-to-use analysis tools for managed self-service, project-code-named “Gemini,” that will enable information workers to slice and dice data and create their own BI applications and assets to share and collaborate on from within the familiar, everyday Microsoft Office productivity tools they already use. Customers and partners will be able to gain early access to “Kilimanjaro” within the next 12 months via a community technology preview (CTP) with full product availability slated for the first half of calendar year 2010.

“To capitalize on the real value and potential of BI, organizations are turning more traditional approaches upside down — providing BI and performance management capabilities to a broader set of knowledge workers and managers,” said Bill Hostmann, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Users want to analyze data and use that information to derive new insights that improve their business processes.”

Supporting Massive Scale at Low TCO

Microsoft also demonstrated a new solution, under development as “Madison,” designed to deliver massively increased scalability capable of supporting the very largest data warehousing deployments. The solution, which will integrate technology from recently acquired data warehouse appliance vendor DATAllegro Inc., will be able to handle the most demanding data warehousing workloads spanning hundreds of terabytes of data and thousands of concurrent users at the low total cost of ownership (TCO) businesses have come to expect from SQL Server. Customers will gain early access to the solution through a CTP within the next 12 months. Further augmenting the enterprise-class capabilities of Microsoft’s data platform, the acquisition of data quality vendor Zoomix will help provide richer data quality capabilities in future versions of SQL Server, enabling customers to maximize the accuracy of their BI. Microsoft is working with industry-leading server and storage hardware providers including Bull, Dell Inc., EMC Corp., HP and Unisys Corp. to build a strong ecosystem providing an “appliance-like” buying experience for customers based on the “Madison” solution. Soon, customers can expect new data warehouse reference configurations based on SQL Server 2008 from these hardware partners as well.

People-Ready BI

The conference also highlighted several large enterprise customer deployments of Microsoft BI technologies and products.

“Trying to wing it just won’t cut it in our business,” said George J. Carlin, director of business integration at Merck & Co. Research laboratories. “Microsoft’s BI solutions enable our people to make even more of a difference in their day-to-day jobs and ensure that our decision-making companywide is always rigorously data-driven and aligned with strategic goals and performance objectives.”

Microsoft’s BI solution spans Microsoft Office Excel and other Office applications for individual BI, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server for team BI and Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server for organizationwide BI, with SQL Server as the data platform. This seamlessly interoperable, end-to-end lineup uniquely positions the company to deliver on the promise of ubiquitous BI by offering organizations compelling benefits designed to include these:

  • Lower TCO. Ability to utilize existing investments in SQL Server, SharePoint and Office and drive end-user adoption to dramatically bring down per-user costs and generate unprecedented economies

  • Rapid deployment and faster time-to-benefits. Easy onramp to powerful BI capabilities embedded within the everyday productivity tools employees already use, promoting wide end-user adoption

  • Freeing up IT to act as a true strategic differentiator. Empowering information workers to quickly access information and perform their own analysis with minimal hand-holding from IT enables IT staff to concentrate their efforts where they can have the most strategic value for the business.

  • Powerful synergies with other Microsoft applications. Ability to deploy the unified communications capabilities within Office Communications Server, for example, to nimbly act on BI-generated insights and “spread the wealth” with co-workers, customers, partners and suppliers

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