Microstrategy has started shipping version 6.0 of its eponymous onlinetransaction processing (Olap) engine and fleshed out how it intends to alignits product strategy more closely with customer needs.
The upgrade significantly increases the ability of the supplier's relateddata warehousing products to extract information for large numbers of userswithout impacting performance.
And Microstrategy claims that the offering can currently support up to onemillion users if used in conjunction with its Broadcaster technology, whichenables users to receive their information from a variety of devices,including pagers and fax.
Sanju Bansal, Microstrategy's chief operating officer, said at the firm's user group conference in Washington DC last week that within ayear, he expects the company's products to support about 10 million users:"Blockbuster expects between 16 and 60 million users over time. It willhappen," he claimed.
But Michael Saylor, Microstrategy's chief executive also outlined where thecompany hoped to take its products into the future. By mid-2000, he said itplanned to come out with a new Olap engine, codenamed Castor, to run itsbasic products, and a new transaction engine, codenamed Raptor, forecommerce.
The supplier has spent four years rewriting its basic offerings, which willbe based on XML. Saylor claims that Version 7 will remove important barriersto ease of use and maintenance that are inherent in the currentclient/server design. "The next version will be voice enabled," he said.
Jonathan Summerfield, IT project manager at Marks & Spencer, added:"Currently, the products place high loads on our infrastructure. The nextversion will reduce today's physical constraints on the extent ofinformation we can provide and to whom."
The transaction engine, on the other hand, is aimed at the ebusiness marketand is intended to act as an interface to any application that sits behind agiven Web site.
Saylor said that rather than build application programming interfaces(API's) for specific applications, the development team has found a way tointegrate them directly through Web pages, which means that users do notneed to know what applications sit behind a particular site.
"It's obsolete to do an application API. We can write through a Web page ina matter of days and still appear integrated," he attested.
Bansal said the aim was to marry decision support systems with customerrelationship management applications so as to provide personalisedinformation to users from multiple sources through as many communicationschannels as possible.
"I'd rather know my shares are about to bomb, so I have the opportunity tosell than not get the call," he said.
He added that personalised information also developed customer loyalty."People will trade an ungodly amount of information in return forconvenience," he claimed.
Patricia Seybold, who heads up market research firm, the Patricia SeyboldGroup, said: "Data warehousing initiatives are being beefed up [atMicrostrategy] - it's realtime information and its personalised -Microstrategy is certainly taking a lead."
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