MicroStrategy's tech preview was delivered by Mark LaRow, vice president of products, who began by laying out the long-term goal of supporting expected super-scale deployments of the future involving as much as 10 petabytes of accessible data, 100,000 users and 1 million reports per week. That's all brainstorming work that's still in the labs, but LaRow then offered a lot more concrete detail on what to expect in the MicroStrategy 9 release in Q4. The list includes:• Better report formatting. Bank customers (and the challenge of bank statements in particular) led MicroStrategy to develop more sophisticated, pixel-perfect formatting for reports.
• More sophisticated predictive analytics. LaRow echoed the common theme of putting analytic capabilities in the hands of business users, but he didn't offer any detail on whether this would be delivered through new MicroStrategy code or deeper partnership with SPSS.
• Improved dashboarding and scorecarding. MicroStrategy 9 will expose OLAP slice-and-dice analysis capabilities directly within dashboards and scorecards so users don't have to go to a separate application.
• Design accelerators for dashboards and scorecards. Casual users are overwhelmed by MicroStrategy's current design environment, says LaRow, so the vendor will add a simplified design environment - sounds a lot like the Express Authoring tool Cognos introduced last January, though focused on dashboards and scorecards instead of reports.
• Self-service exception alerting. This will enable ordinary users to quickly create and change alerts and alert levels without assistance from IT - another box checked by Cognos last winter.
MicroStrategy's new "data exploration capabilities" (LaRow's euphemism for in-memory) will let users "access an immense amount of data, manipulate the graphs, and find and examine the outliers within a highly graphical front end." In-memory is hot area that lets users quickly explore and analyze data without turning to IT to build aggregates, summaries and cubes. Thus, we'll see Business Objects-SAP exploiting the SAP BI Accelerator and Cognos-IBM exploiting the Applix technology. Among independents, MicroStrategy will join QlikTech and TIBCO's Spotfire unit as champions of the technology.
Oracle, which acquired Times Ten way back in 2005, has been strangely silent on this front (too busy on other fronts, I imagine). As for Microsoft, executive Alex Payne acknowledged last year that, "We don't have in-memory technology in Analysis Services today, but I'm not convinced that's needed." I would not be at all surprised to hear a different take as in-memory emerges as a must-have accelerator.I attended MicroStrategy's Business Intelligence Symposium this week in New York and sat in on a preview of what promises to be a blockbuster release this fall. The headliner in MicroStrategy 9 will certainly be in-memory analysis capabilities. MicroStrategy isn't pioneering here... but successful delivery will put pressure on the few vendors that have yet to deliver this technology.