MicroStrategy revamps software for bigger data sets, faster visuals

MicroStrategy has renamed its flagship BI tool as MicroStrategy Analytics Enterprise

Keeping up with the ever-changing nature of business intelligence, MicroStrategy has revamped and expanded its line of BI software to incorporate big-data analytics and desktop visualization. 

"We're delivering a substantial new set of functionality," said Kevin Spurway, MicroStrategy's vice president of industry and mobile marketing.

The company has rebranded and upgraded its flagship BI application, now called the MicroStrategy Analytics Platform, and has introduced a new desktop application designed to allow business analysts to easily parse large data sets from different sources. 

MicroStrategy Analytics Enterprise 9.4, a significant upgrade from MicroStrategy 9.3.1, includes a new capability the company calls data blending, which allows users to combine data from more than one source; the software stores the data in working memory without the need for a separate data integration product.

"Previously, we were able to combine data from different sources, but it required work from IT. Now any business user can grab data from different sources and bring them together with only a few clicks," Spurway said. 

Also new: The dashboard panel has been upgraded. It now can update data in real time and can display multimedia files such as videos. 

The new platform comes with a range of connectors for various types of big-data repositories. It can connect with the MongoDB NoSQL data store as well as Hadoop distributions from Hortonworks, Intel and Pivotal. 

Analytics Enterprise now comes with the R statistical programming language, increasingly used for statistical analysis. Geographic Information System (GIS) software and service vendor Esri have provided a set of map skins and cartographic markers that can be used for geographic renditions of data sets. 

MicroStrategy also has improved the performance of the software. The application can now fit 10 times as much data in memory as the previous version could, and the self-service querying now runs up to 40 percent faster. 

In addition to updating its core enterprise software, MicroStrategy has also released a free tool to help business analysts fetch data from various sources and copy it directly to their desktops.

With the newly released MicroStrategy Analytics Desktop, users can grab data from relational databases, multidimensional databases, cloud-based applications and Hadoop deployments. Once on the desktop, the data can then be compiled into visualizations, such as basic pie charts, maps, graphs and various matrices.

The software can also provide a dashboard for users, allowing them to watch changes within data sets. Users can also export their charts and metrics as an image file or PDF document. The software runs on Microsoft Windows and does not require MicroStrategy Analytics Enterprise to operate. To work with larger data sets, a user should have 2GB or more of working memory on the computer, Spurway said.

The new desktop software was designed to compete with other increasingly popular self-serve, data-discovery desktop visualization tools offered by Tableau and others, Spurway said. 

MicroStrategy is hoping that, over time, organizations that use the free product will see the need for the advanced capabilities found in MicroStrategy Analytics Enterprise, such as predictive analytics, the ability to maintain data consistency across all analysis tools, and the ability to get real-time updates of data, Spurway said. 

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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