What is our primary use case?
I work for a Microsoft partner. We're one of the Gold partners, so we implement on their databases. We are also Dynamics 365 specialists, and I'm a Business Intelligence consultant, so I do SQL, Power BI, Azure SQL, SQL Data Warehouses, and a few others.
What is most valuable?
What I like the most about this solution is the fact that you can basically add capacity behind your data modeling, and you speed up the process before it goes into the Cube holding section. That's a great integration layer. You can basically collect all your data, and then that becomes a staging database for other models, where you can then either report directly with Power BI, or Excel, or other applications, and in more specifically, data Cubes with Microsoft Analysis Services.
What needs improvement?
Something that needs to improve, is the integration layer itself connecting to other non-Microsoft layers. But I don't know if that can be improved, due to the complexity of the data that they're connecting to. But I think they can maybe look at a way to do incremental updates, as it is slightly different.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using this program for 21 years in total.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The program is very stable - even during power outages it only takes a few minutes to be up and running again.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I think Microsoft is the largest scalable company in terms of data warehousing, elastic pools, elastic servers. Even with Power BI conducting parallel data warehouses. Those can scale up pretty large, and if you really want to, you can move into the data lakes.
How are customer service and technical support?
I am very satisfied with the customer service/technical support. We work for a Microsoft company, so we've got a direct line to Microsoft, and because I am also an ambassador for one of the other larger event companies, I have great connectivity - I speak to some of the black belts at Microsoft!
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was quite complex. The time deployment takes will depend on all the components they specify. We've had deployments that took a couple of weeks, and we've had deployments that's been spread out over multiple years, because we cover 60 countries, in six continents.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I think the program is well-priced compared to the other offerings that are out in the market.
What other advice do I have?
On a scale from one to 10, I rate this solution a nine. In the future I would love to see a slightly better automation engine, just for the data integration layer, to make it slightly easier for end-users or junior developers to get involved in incremental updating.
The biggest part that we battle with in terms of costing, and explaining to people why it takes so long to develop some of those things, is just to get the data into the actual data warehouse and automating that. It's purely an integration layer to actually get the data into the data warehouses.
People need to do their research very well to understand the terminology and the technology when they speak to people that are technically inclined, because there's a lot of miscommunication in terms of what they expect from the program and what's delivered at the end of the day.
The biggest lessons I've learned through the years are that Microsoft is probably the largest research company there is. So people should stick to people that know what they're doing, and Microsoft definitely has some very, very capable people designing these products.
And that's probably why I've stayed with Microsoft so long. I've actually tried out a few other suppliers, but I always go back to Microsoft.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?