We’ve seen it on stage. It’s Excel on the steroids. I’m talking about “big announcement” here at Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference. The several announcements are:

·         Madison: the announcement of integration between SQL Server and DATAllegro, release expected within 1H 2010. Look at it if you have a datawarehouse of hudreds of Tb or more.

·         Kilimanjaro: a sort of “R2” version of SQL Server expected to be released within 1H 2010. It includes self-service analysis (project code Gemini) and self-service reporting

The most interesting part is of course the Gemini project. It’s a column-based in-memory storage that seems to be part of Analysis Services (not so much details by now) and that can be used locally with Excel (just like you can use local cubes, I believe). At the end, you have an add-in for Excel that allows you to build relationship between data coming from different sources and simply “pasted” into the model. No model design required. Relationships between data are inferred by the engine and the navigation tool provided in Excel is an evolution of the PivotTable that you can then publish in SharePoint. In a few words, Excel is the reporting tool of the future. Just like today, but much more powerful.

I would like to use this user interface with existing SSAS cubes – the user interface to filter data is so much better than today… It’s better to not show this thing to end user until it will be released – in the meantime, we have to look at what really does and what are the real limits of this approach. I suspect that data cleansing and more “traditional” BI solutions are not going to disappear, but this approach can integrate very well and satisfy customer needs that cannot afford a complete project lifecycle before it can be delivered. More details in the next few days…