MicroStrategy Review
Features I consider valuable include: data blending for end users, intelligent cubes, project metadata and the mobile solution.


Valuable Features

Project Schema/metadata- Very flexible, connects to a variety of different data sources and is very flexible for many specific tasks. Attributes/metrics/filters created once used by everyone.

Intelligent Cubes- Can improve almost any report to run in seconds. Used often for dashboards and documents containing millions of rows of data.

Visual Insight Self-Serve tool - Allows users to create their own dashboards. There are multiple reasons this is important. Users create their own dashboards which saves resources. Users have better insight of the dashboards they require and a better on new data required in their schema and/or intelligent cubes.

Data blending for end users- They can use other data that is not yet part of our managed/governed data. It is seamlessly included it into some of the dashboard/reports that they have created. This allows users to get the reports they require without having to wait for your data team to provide the data in the data warehouse or MicroStrategy schema. It also provides you with requirements for expanding your governed data.

Mobile solution with iPad/iPhone - We haven’t gone this route yet but we did do some POCs and it was very impressive.

Improvements to My Organization

Management would spend half a week gathering data and number crunching in Excel. It was a long, slow and tedious process. In the end they could not calculate at the level of detail required. Today, management can focus on analyzing the numbers and also exploring other avenues of improvement using the self-serve features.
One example is reviewing actual route performance versus the expected performance. The result is better identification of problem routes and measurement of changes.

Room for Improvement

- Many users have requested some specific graphing capability. More precisely, they would like the ability to configure a graph to be formatted and displayed identically to their excel documents. This is not always possible.

- The web developer tool for documents creation does not have all the features of the client version. When adding a derived attribute you can no longer edit the dashboard in the client version.

- There is no type of version control to check in or check out items. As a result, users create multiple backup folders and this produces multiple versions on the go.

-Different functions and options available with intelligent cubes created from MicroStrategy Web and MicroStrategy Desktop. Options such as scheduling and multi threading/partitioning.

- We would really benefit with more mapping functionality and compatibility with different types of mapping data types. One example is a Microsoft geography data type. Using the ESRI out of the box map plugin to draw lines between two co-ordinates and colour code them based on a metric value.

- Visual Insight /Self-serve - Simple ways for users to total/percent their data to a specific level. Translating a grid developed to a graph. In summary, make the self-serve area even more intuitive/easy to use.

-Exporting to PDF is a major pain point in the dashboarding/self-serve area. Alignment and colours are not maintained. This was allegedly fixed in version 10.6. We are starting the process to upgrade to 10.8 so I can not comment further.

-Users were not able to login with using LDAP. We had to add an environment variable to ignore LDAP referral chases. TN#15655 on MicroStrategy’s website.

-IIS Web Server would have a long initial load time. A variety of IIS settings were changed to increase performance. This is more of an IIS issue than probably a MicroStrategy issue, but I think it should still be noted since it’s above and beyond the basic installation setup instructions.

Use of Solution

3 Years

Deployment Issues

Yes there were a few unique setup steps and configuration settings related to Windows Active directory and Web Server setup.

Stability Issues

2 years in production and I don’t believe we’ve had a single issue in regards to the system being down or unavailable.

Scalability Issues

No requirement to scale larger. Scaling infrastructure hardware such as additional severs would not be an issue.

Customer Service and Technical Support

I’ve dealt with a lot of vendors such as SAP, ESRI etc. I would rate them better than those but overall just average. You can talk to a MicroStrategy engineer in person if you call their support number. I find I mainly use their online tool and they will usually answer the question within a day or two. Any type of enhancements or bugs you will have to wait for another release or two before seeing a fix. We are signed up with the lowest support package offered.

Previous Solutions

No previous solution, we do have business objects within our environment but it was not selected as the platform moving forward.

Initial Setup

Initial setup is straightforward. Reading through the installation documentation is a must. Afterwards, you have a had a good idea of what is required before installation. You can run through a number of installation prompts and the software is installed. It gets a bit more technical setting up your environment after the standard setup. Manual steps after the installation such as setting up a clustered environment, integrating windows authentication with windows AD groups, intelligent cubes, cache and history etc.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Was not involved in purchasing.

We've converted our CPU licenses to user named licenses since we have two 32 core I-servers that are clustered. That means 90% of our power was sitting idle and wasted because of CPU licensing. There are a lot of benefits to have multiple CPUs. We've increased our cube refresh performance. Cube performance can be partition to use multiple CPUs. Best thing we did.

Other Solutions Considered

I was not involved in the decision making process.

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