Microsoft client and server strategies about BI

The last news is the acquisition of DATAllegro by Microsoft. From a server point of view, Microsoft is doing well (even if not fast as I’d like). But is on the client side that I (and many other customers) are disappointed.

I totally agree with the post of Chris Webb about XLCubed, where he also explains the issues of Microsoft client tools that are on the market today. I know, we have to wait until Office 14 and/or PerformancePoint 2.0 before having a more advanced BI tool. We only have to think what to say to customers that would like to make strategical investment today and don’t want to wait other 2 or more years just to get a client tool that is able to leverage on features that (for example) Analysis Services offered since 2005.

The reason for not investing too much on a third party tool is simple. Until three years ago, Panorama and ProClarity were the most important OLAP tools you could use with Analysis Services. Then, Microsoft acquisition of ProClarity stopped most of its development (because of the need to integrate it with PerformancePoint) and Panorama failed to update its client to leverage on new SSAS 2005 attribute-based paradigm. If only someone predicted the inability of Microsoft to deliver a full-featured client OLAP product, updated with fancy graphics, within 2006/2007, a very good move in 2004 would have been developing a ProClarity equivalent product made using .NET and WPF as development platform. Today, it would have been a killer-app, especially if you consider that Silverlight 2 allows you to deliver the fancy animated charts in a simple way. Today, I don’t see any “wow” OLAP client on the market that I can plug to SSAS using all the SSAS features and power.

As Chris said, binding the release cycle of OLAP tools to the release cycle of Office hasn’t been a good move. The sessions announced for the Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference 2008 don’t anticipate much for the near future. Yes, we have to wait for Office 14…