MicroStrategy, a provider of BI software, last week introduced MicroStrategy 9 at its annual user conference in Las Vegas. The theme for the new release, which the company considers to be its biggest in nearly a decade, is support for all business intelligence-not just enterprise BI for which MicroStrategy is well-known in the market-but also for departmental and workgroup BI, Brian Brinkmann, director of product marketing, tells 5 Minute Briefing. With this release, he says, MicroStrategy wanted to make sure "that we not only enhance our enterprise BI software piece with higher performance, better scale and more efficient BI, but we also wanted to make sure that we did things for the BI needs of the department and the workgroup."
With MicroStrategy 9, organizations can access and combine data from data marts, operational systems, and Excel spreadsheets using a new capability called "Multi-source ROLAP." Multi-source ROLAP eliminates the requirement to move data from multiple source databases into a purpose-built data warehouse or data mart. Instead, Multi-source ROLAP allows companies to access the data directly from where it resides, with no special data engineering or data movement, reducing the time to set up the BI environment and lowering the technical expertise required. "For these departments that don't have the wherewithal or even the skills, or the budget with the IT department, they are able to go directly after the data sources, pool it together and get the information they need. That is a very big deal and we know that that will help," says Brinkmann.
Another key aspect of departmental BI is that business people who are using it must be able to serve themselves. "User self-service is a big theme for us in this release," Brinkmann says. "We have redesigned the interface to make it even easier-more web 2.0-like, more Windows on the web-like," says Brinkmann. explaining that this enhancement makes it much easier to create reports. Additionally, supporting user self-service, MicroStrategy 9 now lets users perform OLAP manipulations such as pivoting and drilling directly on graphs, and in what it calls a "major innovation," offers the ability to perform OLAP manipulations on grids and graphs contained within dashboards.
MicroStrategy 9 also includes "In-memory ROLAP" to improve query performance. In-memory ROLAP includes a database that can serve data to reports, dashboards, and OLAP analyses. MicroStrategy 9 automatically designs and configures the in-memory database based on the relationships between the attributes and metrics specified by the business user. The in-memory database technology operates in the computer server's main memory for high-speed performance, but is also stored on disk for greater permanence and offers the ability to swap in and out of memory based on usage. For additional information about MicroStrategy 9, go here.