The Boulder BI Brain Trust


August 2010 Archives

MicroStrategy Focuses on Enterprise Analytics

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MS logo.pngMicroStrategy presents today with Dan Kerzner, Senior VP for Mobile, and Doug Chope, Director of Product Management, as a business and technology strategies. Founded in 1989, MicroStrategy has been in the top vendors of enterprise BI tool suites. However, they have maintained their independence, having over a million business users of their product, 2,100 employees of which 20% are R&D. FY2009 revenue was $337M. $200M in cash with no debt. Several slides gave an overview of their customer base, which is quite extensive and worldwide.

We had an interesting discussion as to why MicroStrategy does not want to be acquired. Dan and Doug stressed their open systems strategy is best for their customers, since it gives customers the choice to move among a variety of alternative vendors for database, security, browsers, etc. An example of a customer who transitioned from Oracle to Teradata and was able to move several thousand MicroStrategy reports in three days. However, the bottom line is that Michael Saylor, Founder and CEO, owns 60% of the stock. So like SAS with Dr. Goodnight, MicroStrategy future will be determined by its founder, rather than a diverse Board of Directors.

MS dimension.pngDoug outlined the dimensions that their product line spans, across user scale, security, BI styles, data scale, distributed teams, and application quantity. Click on figure to the right to enlarge. Note the five styles of BI as: enterprise reporting, OLAP analysis, scorecards/dashboards, advanced analysis, and alerts/proactive notification ...all from a single unified architecture.

Doug continued with mobile BI apps as a new paradigm for BI analytics. They are seeing rapid transformation of using mobile apps in their customers. I downloaded the iPhone app for MicroStrategy - free with several nice demos. Doug made the point that there is one billion persons having PCs but there is five billion persons...implying that there is a huge leverage to drive costs down for smart phones. As BI display device, future value will come from integrating new functionality like: GPS location-aware, multi-touch (tap, pinch, swipe), sensors (accelerometer, speech, barcodes), and data capture via photos.

Good discussion on collaborative BI relative to MicroStrategy. And good demos of dashboards. See this set of demos here.

My Take... MicroStrategy is an oldie and a goodie! It is amazing that for 22 years they have endured and prospered and remained in the top 5 BI analytic vendors. They continue to be strong on innovation with cool technologies relevant to large corporations.

Today MicroStrategy joined us at #BBBT. Present were Douglas Hope - Director Product Management and Dan kerzner - Sr. Vice President.

Some context as to this blog post; I have been working a lot with MicroStrategy in the years 1998 - 2001 with a big retailer in the Netherlands. We selected them, implemented it and worked with the software extensively. I was and still am deeply impressed with the software as well as the company which is still independent and where the software is integrated by design, not by acquisition (which I like I lot).

Independence is something that seems to be embedded into the DNA of the company; ‘We wanna control our own destiny’. MicroStrategy and SAS, companies that seem to have found their market, partnering and integrating witch their environment.

MicroStrategy is especially dominant in retail, but other branches are growing as well. And - to my suprise - MicroStrategy is also used as an embedded application in many commercial software packages. 

Technically MicroStrategy made (in my opinion) a huge jump the moment their server products supported 64 bit OS’s with great variety (Linux, AIX, Windows). MicroStrategy always believed that the query processing should be executed as close with the data as possible; being the database. This makes a lot of sense to me. Sophisticated SQL generation which is certified to specific environments like Oracle, Teradata, Netezza differentiates them from their competitors. 

However, the real differentiator in my opinion is ‘scale’. MicroStrategy is able to support large, complex environment/organizations; security, mutltiple development teams, complex business processes, 1000’s of users, large volumes of data and different types of use.

Claudia stipulated some challenges; there is not really a solid argument for MicroStrategy not to focus a bit more on SMB environments, but the marketing of MicroStrategy needs to realize this. MicroStrategy seems to also lack a bit in offering functionality regarding un-structured information as well as collaboration. The latter MicroStrategy is working hard on. 

Ok...what I like (summarized):

  • Integrated metadata, integrated architecture; develop once, distribute many times to many different devices
  • Object orientation / modularization / metadata driven development of reports, dashboard and even mobile apps!
  • Uniformity in GUI for all different types of BI 
  • Large libraries of statistical and data mining functions (or import predictive algorithms in PMML)
  • Deployment offerings that make centralized governance a real possibility (huge differentiator)
  • Near-database query processing with certified SQL for a lot of vendors combined with in-memory stuff

Now, the new stuff of course was pitched; MicroStrategy Mobile. MicroStrategy is pushing the Mobile agenda hard and is making a pretty solid case. Apple devices like Ipad and Iphone, together with 3G/4G/Wifi communications and the 'apps' explosion opened up the Mobile BI market according to MicroStrategy. Interestingly, MicroStrategy is offering the Mobile suite versions for 25 users for free. Just download the Iphone App and there you go. 

So where is this mobile functionality used? Mainly by consumers of information, not producers. So Mobile BI will not replace the functionality offered on desktops. So - analytics on your mobile is just plain stupid, the outcomes of these analyses are however published to your mobile. To me that sounds extremely realistic. By using prompts as well as sophisticated drilling in the apps, the Mobile user has the possibility to get his hand on a lot of data. 

I have seen the apps and I gotta say; damn, they are hot! I really think this kind of functionality could really speed up data management/data quality/warehousing adoption big time. Furthermore, integrating Mobile BI functionality with other apps and technology like GPS, accelerometer, compass and camera makes it a disruptive cocktail. 

I really see this mobile BI technology making a difference to the peeps doing the day-to-day important work (police, teachers, health care personnel, ..) as well as the top executives. And these are the groups BI is traditionally struggling with. New business models will emerge....

Exciting times to come!

Pervasive Embeds new Data Integration Features

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Pervasive logo.pngPervasive Software is presenting with Mike Hoskins, CTO, Pervasive Software and General Manager, Integration Products, and Alison Raffalovich, Director of Pervasive DI Gartner Quad.pngCorporate Marketing and Communications.Not a classic DW vendor, but they have been a data integration vendor for 27 years. They started with Btrieve (now called Pervasive PSQL) and Data Junction (now called Pervasive Data Integrator) product. The company employs 240 persons with $47M revenue in 2010, 38 profitable quarters, and $40M in cash. Pervasive is shifting its business model from perpetual licenses to subscriptions. In the recent (November 2009) magic quadrant for Data Integration, Pervasive rubs shoulder with many of the big vendors. Click on figure for larger image.

Pervasive sources.jpgMike started with their data integration. As noted by @Rick345, Mike argued that "Pervasive has the ability to design and deploy anywhere... connect to everything and solve for every integration pattern". There is an explosion of data sources, such as Amazon Relational Data, plus application interfaces, such as SAS. See the figure for the spectrum of their universal connectivity. Mike continued with overview of their Data Profiler, Integration Hub, Data MatchMerge, and Data Quality. Mike mused, "The pending data avalanche is going to kill many of the traditional data integration infrastructures".

Pervasive DataRush Arch.pngUnder NDA, Mike outlined their future plans as a "complete redesign and recoding" of the current offerings. The new business development areas are Data Rush, Business Xchange, DataSolutions, and the Pervasive DataCloud. The Pervasive Data Rush is targeting the Big Data problem, such as those in a Hadoop environment. The architecture for Data Rush has a rich assortment of analytic modules, as shown in the figure. Mike sketches the future as "aggressive use of parallelism to leverage multi-core servers with in-the-small thread-level coding."

When discussing their cloud solutions, Mike is hearing from Pervasive customers, "Our internal IT group is terrible, hard to work with, unresponsive and unsympathetic to our problems". Hence, ease to deploy solutions, like the Pervasive DataCloud, would be of value.

My Take...

Pervasive has come a long way over 28 years since the Btrieve days. They have low visibility in the BI/DW market primarily because of the traditional OEM embedded product channel. As a financial stable company, they are moving ahead into new independent business ventures, capitalizing on the global business needs for data integration.


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