MicroStrategy Usher Review

Its Intelligent Cube technology is an in-memory version of report data. Users can slice and dice data without having to re-execute SQL against the data warehouse.

What is most valuable?

OLAP feature: It uses Intelligent Cube technology which is the most important and game-changing introduction from version 9. Intelligent Cube technology is an in-memory version of report data that can be manipulated by the MicroStrategy Analytical Engine. MicroStrategy Desktop, Web, and Office users can slice and dice data in reports within Intelligent Cubes without having to re-execute SQL against the data warehouse. It’s a huge performance-enhancement technique.

Data discovery: With the introduction on version 10, MicroStrategy enhanced its data discovery feature which helps any user to easily analyze their data by importing Excel spreadsheets, etc. It allows you to connect live with any database, Hadoop, or OLAP. You can import your own query and integrate it with MicroStrategy. These options give you powerful ways to analyze and discover your data, which helps enable important business decisions. See sample below.

It has a robust engine compared to other BI tools available in the market.

How has it helped my organization?

The product has improved our ability to provide self-service visualization/dashboarding capability. These days, business users are more inclined toward self-analytics, rather than coming to a developer with every small request. I think MicroStrategy has done great in this particular field.

What needs improvement?

They need to improve visualization and dashboards, as it is getting tough competition from Tableau in the area. With the release of version 10.4, they did very good.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for over six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There are absolutely no issues when it comes to stability, and it works best when you have a very good DB schema layer. A perfect schema has always been a strength of MicroStrategy, when compared to other BI tools.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No issues with the scalability; it’s a strength of MicroStrategy, because of the product’s robust SQL engine. It has a great SQL optimization process that pushes requests to the database.

How are customer service and technical support?

It has a very active user community and they are more than happy to help you with your questions and issues. As far as tech support from MicroStrategy is concerned, I have seen a decline in last year compared to the past. I hope they improve in this area.

I have noticed that good technical guys left the department or no longer work there, which is affecting the quick resolution of any issues, but MicroStrategy is trying to rebuild its tech support department, which they were known for.

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

When it comes to business intelligence and reporting, I have almost always used MicroStrategy, with a little bit of Tableau.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup of the tool was very complex and challenging. They made you do lots of steps before you can say it’s done. However, with the release of the latest version, setup has become extremely easy and it’s just a single-step process.

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

It’s an expensive tool and I have seen that only medium- and large-size enterprise can afford its setup and maintenance cost. Licensing is a little bit tricky and it depends on the initial buying agreement.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have evaluated other tools such as Microsoft BI, SAP’s BusinessObjects and IBM Cognos, but MicroStrategy came out the winner for the solution to the problem we were looking to solve, and it aligned with our team structure. We looked at Tableau and Spotfire, as well, but they were eliminated in the first round, because of the nature of the problem we were looking to solve.

What other advice do I have?

Before implementing MicroStrategy, you have to get a good resource who knows the product inside out and a data warehousing structure for long-lasting performance.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: I work as a consultant and the company I used to work for was a MicroStrategy gold partner.
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