Microsoft is pushing into the business intelligence (BI) market with a set of new capabilities that it hopes will make corporate analysis easier for new users.
The new offerings will be included in the next release of Microsoft SQL Server, currently codenamed 'Kilimanjaro', and will include additional data warehousing under the project name 'Madison'.
"Microsoft's goal is to transform the way companies think of BI through familiar and intuitive business-friendly tools that help them unlock the power of BI across their organisations," said Stephen Elop, Microsoft Business Division president, at the Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference 2008.
"If you know how to use Word and Excel, then you'll be able to use our BI. That's our commitment to customers."
Users will be able to create their own BI applications and use these with the Microsoft Office tools they already use, according to Tony Crowhurst, Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server product manager.
Helena Schwenk, an analyst at Ovum, described the new offering as "Excel on steroids".
"The new BI capabilities will allow users to use Excel as an interface into SQL Server and bring more data into Excel so they are not limited to the rogue capacity of the spreadsheet," she said. "This frees up business users, but allows IT to maintain control."
Microsoft does not expect the new BI capabilities to replace SharePoint, but to give users a new means to carry out ad-hoc analysis and author reports themselves, added Crowhurst.
Customers will be able to get Kilmanjaro within the next 12 months via a community technology preview. The product is intended to be fully released in the first half of 2010.
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