Microsoft: Business intelligence for the masses

Microsoft intends to bring business intelligence to the masses, an executive said yesterday during a keynote presentation at the...

Microsoft intends to bring business intelligence to the masses, an executive said yesterday during a keynote presentation at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Community Summit conference in Seattle.

Business intelligence should be in the hands of users enterprisewide, stressed Bill Baker, Microsoft general manager for SQL business intelligence and SQL Server. He expressed frustration at hearing of a company with 125,000 employees that had only 500 to 1,000 workers using business intelligence software.

"The goal is to drive this out to more users, literally every user in the company," Baker said. Microsoft also wanted to extend business intelligence across organisational boundaries, including customers and partners, as well as extend it to small and mid-sized businesses.

Microsoft believed corporate quality and results are driven by the quality of decisions by all employees. To achieve its goal of business intelligence for the masses, Microsoft is preparing to boost business intelligence functions in Yukon, which is due in a beta release in the first half of 2003.

Business intelligence investments in Yukon exceed what was spent on this function for the SQL Server 7 and SQL Server 2000 releases combined, according to Baker.

Yukon will feature OLAP and datamining engines, a development workbench, and data extraction, transformation, and loading.

The OLAP engine in Yukon will scale better, and calculations and analysis on the OLAP engine will be centralised to cut down on network traffic. Calculations will be cached as well. Write-back data performance will be improved tenfold.

The database will feature fine-grained administrative permissions, and HTTP access for anonymous users is disabled. Services run with the lowest level of permissions possible and there is a separate user ID for data access. Encryption also is featured, as are audit records of server events.

Yukon will also sport an integrated management function for relational and OLAP servers. "There's a single management shell," Baker said.

The XML for Analysis (XML/A) protocol for building business intelligence services becomes native in Yukon.

Also planned for Yukon is failover clustering. Additionally, administrators can synchronize build and query-supporting servers. Full support is provided for existing programming models, such as MDX, DSO, and OLE DB for OLAP.

Multi-instance server staging backup and restore also is planned for Yukon, and there is no 2GB limit, according to Baker.

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