SharePoint360 recently announced that it has been accepted into a Microsoft early adoption program for new upcoming business intelligence products. While early adoption programs span many technologies and generally only engage Microsoft customers, SharePoint360 says it was selected as a result of its work in highlighting Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 within Microsoft SharePoint Server.
SharePoint360 is a Microsoft Gold Certified partner focused on business productivity consulting and hosting solutions. Microsoft SharePoint is the core of their practice, and they have teams of well-seasoned software developers and business intelligence experts.
In preliminary work with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, SharePoint360 notes this update strengthens Microsoft BI in many ways, now aligning it with larger BI providers' offerings, ensuring that BI is accessible to information workers who are not BI software analysts. Coupled with Office 2010, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2's advanced BI functionality is complimented by SharePoint's collaboration capabilities, fostering collaboration around BI data.
A key new technology to be released by Microsoft is SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel (formerly codenamed project "Gemini"). "PowerPivot is an add-in that enables users to bring in data from numerous heterogeneous databases and create in-memory OLAP cubes for rapid analysis," Jen Underwood, BI solutions lead for SharePoint360, explains to 5 Minute Briefing. "Guided wizard functionality helps the user create the source data connections and design the data relationships. Metadata rules and transformation models will reside in SQL Server Analysis Services and will be available for use to create new cubes. With these capabilities, information workers will be able to do their own business intelligence analyses with less reliance on IT and power users. Dashboards and other analytic presentations will be easier to create, and the results can also be published on SharePoint for collaboration and review."
Other new BI functionality that Microsoft plans to release is improved business applications integration with Business Connectivity Services, which has been enhanced from read-only to now support bi-directional create, read, update, delete, search and offline access to line-of-business data. Also, better data visualization is being incorporated into Excel 2010 with interactive reporting that includes advanced slicers for visually filtering report data, sparklines, heatmaps, and much more in real time.
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