In a recent post, I discussed the changes in the business intelligence landscape as outlined by Gartner in their 2013 Magic Quadrant. Today, I wanted to focus solely on Microsoft as a vendor in this space. Yes, I mentioned Microsoft – and I work in Higher Education!
In working with a number of higher education institutions over the years, I often hear direct concerns about “Microsoft.” In the academic world, we are concerned about the most open way of doing things. We like to share – and you may have noticed by the adoption of Sakai and the Open Source Portfolio (OSP).
The emergence of open-source tools was prevalent over the last few decades. You now see many organizations running miscellaneous versions of Linux, open source wiki tools, Drupal-type content management systems – and now many have implemented Google (Google Drive, Google Docs, GMail). If you mention “Microsoft” – you’d better start running. You’ll have someone from IT chasing after you pretty quickly – and not in a good way!
Ok – you’re not Jack Sparrow, so you can relax a bit! But, you can imagine the feelings of many of these IT organizations when you start to implement enterprise-level software that holds a significant cost and the source is proprietary. Think Sungard’s Banner (now Ellucian), or PeopleSoft, and maybe even Workday now in some cases. Somehow, Oracle has slipped through the cracks as many of these large ERP vendors require Oracle’s database platform. Oracle was also smart and acquired mySQL – so they have an almost natural support of the open source community. Oracle is an investment, too.
You’re probably asking – what’s your point? My point is that Microsoft isn’t bad. It’s actually very, very GOOD! Besides the educational licensing, and the obvious love for Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, et al) – let’s look at some of the benefits of Microsoft’s SQL Server platform. Let’s start with a basic point that is often overlooked. It is a suite of tools, not simply a database platform. I have listed a basic table below, but you can read more on Microsoft’s website.
|SQL Server Database Engine||SQL Server Database Engine includes the Database Engine, the core service for storing, processing, and securing data, replication, full-text search, tools for managing relational and XML data, and the Data Quality Services (DQS) server.|
|Analysis Services (SSAS)||Analysis Services includes the tools for creating and managing online analytical processing (OLAP) and data mining applications.|
|Reporting Services (SSRS)||Reporting Services includes server and client components for creating, managing, and deploying tabular, matrix, graphical, and free-form reports. Reporting Services is also an extensible platform that you can use to develop report applications.|
|Integration Services (SSIS)||Integration Services is a set of graphical tools and programmable objects for moving, copying, and transforming data. It also includes the Data Quality Services (DQS) component for Integration Services.|
|Master Data Services||Master Data Services (MDS) is the SQL Server solution for master data management. MDS can be configured to manage any domain (products, customers, accounts) and includes hierarchies, granular security, transactions, data versioning, and business rules, as well as an Add-in for Excel that can be used to manage data.|
The great part of purchasing Microsoft SQL Server is that these tools come out of the box – and are included with the license for the database platform. There are several different editions which provide more or less horsepower as your project requires, but this is an added bonus that Microsoft bundles these tools.
Here are a few thoughts from my experience and why I enjoy working with Microsoft BI tools:
My Favorite Features: