MicroStrategy upgrades BI platform for visual analysis, Hadoop
MicroStrategy 9.3 will be the focus at the company's MicroStrategy World user conference
MicroStrategy is set to unveil an array of enhancements to its BI (business intelligence) software platform,
covering areas such as visual data-exploration and the open-source Hadoop data-processing framework, during the
MicroStrategy World conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
The new features in MicroStrategy 9.3 include an updated version of the vendor's Visual Insight interface, which
is aimed at helping business users work through data. Additional visualization tools have been added, including
density maps and network diagrams, according to a statement.
MicroStrategy has also sought to make the toolset easier to use. One new feature automatically suggests which
types of visualizations users should choose for various data sets, and the system's drag-and-drop functions have
been made "smoother," MicroStrategy said.
The system has faster, "Google-like" search capabilities, and it's also now possible for business users to
"create great looking dashboards in under 10 minutes with no help from IT," according to a statement.
MicroStrategy 9.3 also hops aboard the "big data" train, providing a direct connection to Hadoop, the popular
open-source data processing framework.
In addition, data can be analyzed via Hadoop without writing code, thanks to functionality that generates Hadoop
queries automatically as business users "drag-and-drop business attributes and metrics onto a report," according to
Hadoop data can also be meshed with information from other sources, such as a traditional relational database,
Other new features in the 9.3 update include support for the open-source R language for statistical analysis,
and a management toolset called System Manager.
The latter "automates the many manual, multi-step processes required to manage a BI ecosystem," according to a
One observer expressed a measured view of the release's features.
The auto-suggestions and rapid search tool are "differentiated capabilities," said Forrester Research vice
president Boris Evelson, in an email.
But MicroStrategy's work with Hadoop, while welcome, "is what everyone else is doing," he added.
Likewise, MicroStrategy's support for R is "long needed, but most other vendors have that too," Evelson
Company officials have framed MicroStrategy as the
"Switzerland" of BI vendors, a neutral party able to work equally well with an array of third-party applications
and data sources.
MicroStrategy seems to loom ever larger in this role of late, given that its US$562.2 million in revenue during
2011 makes it one of the industry's biggest remaining stand-alone BI companies.
It's not clear whether that will remain the case forever. While software vendors such as SAP and Oracle already
have well-stocked analytics arsenals, other potential acquirers could be in the wings.
Logical ones include Hewlett-Packard, EMC, Dell and Teradata, Evelson said.
There's also the potential for a "merger of equals" between MicroStrategy and data-integration vendor
Informatica, according to Evelson. Like MicroStrategy, Informatica is finding itself becoming one of the last large
specialized companies in its market segment.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News
Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com