MicroStrategy Review

Feature rich, complete, one-stop solution for BI. Needs training and coffee.

What is most valuable?

HTML content in dashboards

MicroStrategy can read data from a wide variety of different DBMS and web services, producing optimized SQL code for each of them. It's a one stop solution for BI: after 10 years using it I still haven't found a report or graph that can't be done with the suite.

How has it helped my organization?

streamlining processes, cleansing data

We use it for any kind of reporting and analysis. It helped manage the institution, reduce costs and provide better service to the patients (which are our customers...)

What needs improvement?

HTML5 visuals, modern infographics

The web is full of very interesting data, and the number of web services providing datasets is increasing. I would like to see Support for OAuth 1.0 and 2.0 to be able to attach external data sources. I'd like to have Support for JSON data. I hope HTML5 and JavaScript will be used extensively in next versions, to substitute the Flash based components.

For how long have I used the solution?

Since 2003

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

The software is feature rich and clearly not easy to start with. I believe the installation and the setup of the data model is the most difficult part; once this is done, the rest of the deployment is very easy. Clients run on Windows, on Android and on iOS seamlessly, there is a web based interface that can be used from most browsers.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No. I have been using the software both on Windows and on headless Linux, and had no stability issues fo far. Memory availability is very important, as in any other data intensive software.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We don't have Petabytes scale databases. Our information systems are in the Gigabytes order of magnitude. We were able to handle our data volume with ease. Number of concurrent users is in the hundreds, no problems so far.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

We solve most of the issues with the knowledge base or the discussion forums. To date we had no interaction with the customer service apart from some help we needed for upgrading from version 7 to version 9.

Technical Support:

The knowledge base is extensive and covers 90% of the problems we may face. For the rest, we manage to find alternatives thanks to networking, blogs, forums, etc.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We are still using multi vendors solutions. There are historical datawarehouses that need to be maintained (Oracle BI, Actuate, Microsoft BI), but all new development is done with MicroStrategy. Reason for that is mainly practical and economical. We prefer paying licenses to one signle vendor whenever posible. We are also testing the new free Desktop version for a reduced number of users.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is complex. After the installation you need to configure several aspect of the suite: metadata, connections, Project settings and start developing objects. I suggest buying a book or reading the manual thoroughly. There is a very good book on Amazon "Business Intelligence with MicroStrategy" that covers every aspect of the setup and initial phases of the Project (http://amzn.to/1by3HAO).

What about the implementation team?

We implement everything in house due to the sensitivity of data.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I'd rather not disclose it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Oracle, QlickView, Tableau, Microsoft BI

What other advice do I have?

Training training training. Especially in the beginning phase, a wrong choice can be very costly.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Add a Comment
ITCS user

author avatarit_user9528 (Data Expert at a individual & family service with 10,001+ employees)
Top 20Vendor

Pricing was the number one issue with Microstrategy even after the re-org that changed pricing. If you are a large org, 1 core only equals 500 users, and that price for each core with fault tolerance is millions and millions. Just look at their website for pricing of MSRP. It's out there.

So for large org's it's even hard to swallow when others in the market hit the gambit of needs with varying tools. The days of one vendor does all or 80/20 rule are long gone. You need versatility...and mobility and ways to use against other vendors to get best pricing. I will say for the most part the product is stable though and being home grown, I would think it should be. Not many, if any, can say that. Microsoft, BO, and others all acquire rather than build.

I feel the tools are very detailed and possibly over engineered to some degree to have every single aspect covered, so you almost have to be a nasa scientist to get all the bells and whistles set. Out of the box, you cannot install to your database of choice for the Metadata repository. You must send everything to Access, then after it's all done installing, change it to your "normal" database vendor (SQL server, oracle, db2, what have you). It's 2 steps when it should be where would you like your metadata to go to and choose and be done like normal. I am surprised they haven't gotten hit by customers with this, but being it's only installed once, I suppose that's why.
No one ever writes about things that happen only once. Upgrades just point to the md database, so you never hit it again.

author avatarit_user9528 (Data Expert at a individual & family service with 10,001+ employees)
Top 20Vendor

With everyone trying to cut IT costs, if you go to one tool, one could argue you would spend more on this particular tool, than buying separate Microsoft BI, Tableau and alike tools for pointed solutions depending on how many pointed solutions you have. Every BI tool has pro's and con's - no matter which one...and so you must choose the one that fits best to your business, not choose the tool and have the business conform to be successful in my opinion. Some tools are better than others in other areas.

author avatarit_user93297 (Senior BI Developer / Administrator at a tech services company with 51-200 employees)

SrBIGuy - I've been using MTSR since 2000 and your statement that "You must send everything to Access, ..." is quite inaccurate and misleading. I could also point out others things I disagree with in your statements, but this may not be the best forum for that. I can contribute to what Davide already stated by saying that after working for years in parallel (as as a hands on developer and architect) with MSTR, Oracle/PeopleSoft and SAP Bi solutions, I will recommend MSTR over those other solutions in terms of BI apps because of its feature completeness and because of the lower TCO, much lower headcount cost than the others. As for the licensing cost, yes it is high, but I know that you can handle in many ways.

author avatarit_user9528 (Data Expert at a individual & family service with 10,001+ employees)
Top 20Vendor

I see in your post for a few hundred users. We have 40k registered customers so because Microstrategy forces you to core licenses and to have any kind of decent scheduling going on in the morning hours a few cores won't do it. We found to get any kind of hood performance we had to cache the data and MSTR did tell us we were doing everything correctly. I will say when we looked at v10 it was terrible in the base version and had all sorts of issues. Probably why they issued over 1,000 bug fixes in that first fix and they also are losing customers and employees big time since they are pushing usher so hard and no big companies want it. The salesreps were telling the upper management they needed to change and after a lot of frustration they reduced 22 SKU's to 4 but it still was expensive and we are a decently sized company 14+ Billion.

I have worked on Microstrategy since 2009. Its a 1980's toolset. Everything is moving cloud and merging cloud with on premise.

Microsoft has its own differences. I like MSTR but they werent flexible enough in several ways.

I have worked with their top guys when they were still around. Most of those guys have left that I have worked with if not all of them.

author avatarit_user517533 (User)

feature rich but difficult to learn

author avatarOrlee Gillis

Ramon, which features in MTSR's BI apps have you find most valuable/useful?