Software // Information Management
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1/18/2008
12:46 PM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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MicroStrategy Matures - Notes from the Conference

Were the holidays only two weeks ago? They seem a distant memory with so many BI headlines this week alone. SAP and Business Objects announced a number of joint bundles, Cognos launched 8.3, and MicroStrategy kicked off its annual user conference in Miami. The frenetic pace of BI continues in 2008.

Were the holidays only two weeks ago? They seem a distant memory with so many BI headlines this week alone. SAP and Business Objects announced a number of joint bundles, Cognos launched 8.3, and MicroStrategy kicked off its annual user conference in Miami. The frenetic pace of BI continues in 2008.Over 1,200 partners, customers and prospects gathered at MicroStrategy's event to hear about new products, best practices and the company's thoughts on industry consolidation. At times in its 18-year history, the vendor has come across as somewhat arrogant, but this year, CEO Michael Saylor seemed more tempered yet passionate as he declared "We want to be your strategic enterprise provider… We have to earn the right to be your partner. We are in listening mode." Saylor suggested that MicroStrategy has grown out of its tumultuous teen years to enter young adulthood.

Customers here say MicroStrategy has already earned their loyalty and see industry consolidation almost as a non issue. Multiple customers attested to MicroStrategy's excellent account management, noting that certain competitive BI suppliers - to whom they also pay hefty maintenance fees - don't seem to care if they succeed with BI and are only interested when it's time to sell more software. Given the breadth, complexity and value of some of the MicroStrategy-based BI applications, several customers said it would be easier to swap out the database than MicroStrategy.

Let's keep things in perspective, though. MicroStrategy is notably aggressive in its pricing and licensing policies. While the vendor's stance seems to have softened in the last year, those alienated customers were clearly not at the conference.

Another interesting take away from the conference in the aftermath of recent consolidation was MicroStrategy's dance partners. CTOs from Informatica (the market leader in ETL) and Teradata (a market leading database for data warehousing) and MicroStrategy united to discuss pervasive BI. These BI/datawarehouse independents all have a commonality in that they:

• focus exclusively on only a portion of the BI market • don't compete with one another • greatly complement each other.

Such alliances are more straightforward than those with partners (such as Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle) who also have competitive products. Even as independents, together these three vendors make for a powerful combination in the BI industry.

While there was a fair bit of speculation about the change in tone and what it all means, the most excitement came from a peek at MicroStrategy's next platform release. Due out later this year, it includes things such as handling of multiple data sources and an overhauled OLAP services to a shared, in-memory cache. Heterogeneous data access has been a product weakness, an area in which competitors currently do better. Improvements to the OLAP capabilities, on the other hand, may put them ahead in this area. For more details on the vendor's and product's strengths and weaknesses, see the BIScorecard MicroStrategy Overview report.

Check my blog next week for more commentary on this week's other BI news.

Regards, CindiWere the holidays only two weeks ago? They seem a distant memory with so many BI headlines this week alone. SAP and Business Objects announced a number of joint bundles, Cognos launched 8.3, and MicroStrategy kicked off its annual user conference in Miami. The frenetic pace of BI continues in 2008.

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