Reviews (26-50 of 58)
- Wide variety of tools : Microsoft BI possesses a wide variety of tools to cater needs of presentation, performance caching, integration and ease of use.
- Popular online and location communities : Online and local communities around Microsoft BI is very popular. You can find a lot of resources and helpful information online and within your communities more efficiently and effectively.
- Tighter and broad integration options : Microsoft BI tools are very well integrated with other Microsoft products (Office 365, SharePoint, .NET Apps, Project Server etc...) and Line of Business (LOB) applications. Being a large player in BI domain, there are various third party components available which compliment MS BI.
- Visualization and presentation is an area that may need some improvement. I have used a competitive tool Tableau which has better visualization capabilities against Pivot Charts/Power BI.
- For ultra large organizations, certain BI solutions require more volume of data to be processed. Although Microsoft Windows Azure, HDInsight and various other big data mechanism can cater to this need, other MS BI tools like Power Pivot, SharePoint etc... need to be more performance oriented.
- Licensing is one aspect which is relatively more complex as compared to its competitors. Microsoft is now following subscription-model approach in a lot of areas but still there is a scope of improvement in providing more clarity and simplicity when purchasing MS BI tools.
- SQL Server Management Studio provides a nice interface to view, query, and modify the database tables. The interface is user friendly and logical.
- Microsoft, in general, has fantastic educational pricing. This allowed the TCO to be much lower for our university.
- Microsoft tools integrate nicely with one another. We are also in the process of implementing SharePoint. We plan to use SSRS (.rdl) reports which will integrate with SharePoint - and also will have the ability to experiment with PowerView (.rdlx) dashboards and PowerPivot (Microsoft's in-memory BI tool).
- The end-user reporting tool, Report Builder, is not that flexible. We feel that the Cognos Report Studio tool is more robust in this area.
Review: "Microsoft BI platform good for Reporting but always changing for the rest of the toolset so use caution for your needs."
- SSRS Reports allows browser based access on multiple mobile devices to reports and dashboards quickly
- Focus their strategy on what is offered for the toolset. I believe they are starting to clarify this.
- Creation of and deployment of new reports is difficult for your average end user who doesn't use Visual Studio.
Neudesic is a Microsoft Gold-Certified partner. One of our practices is Business Productivity, which includes SharePoint and SQL BI. The Microsoft Business Intelligence "stack" includes
- SQL Server for data management, including ETL (Integration Services), storage (SQL Server RDBMS engine) and a business semantic model (Analysis Services)
- Office 2013 and higher, specifically Excel 2013, for data presentation, management and analytics
- PowerBI Developer for data presentation
- PowerBI for Office 365 provides a nice open security repository for Excel and Power BI data views.
- SharePoint 2013, as a shared portal platform, using included Reporting and Analytics site templates.
- SharePoint includes PerformancePoint, which is a very useful data analysis tool for Analysis Services cubes.
- One Stop Shopping: Single solution provider provides tight integration between data storage, data manipulation, data processing and presentation. Instead of buying an RDBMS from one provider, data processing tools from another vendor, and presentation tools from yet another, the entire application stack is provided by Microsoft.
- Value: Compared to other RDBMS vendors, Microsoft BI tools are more cost-effective because all the tools needed are included in the purchase of Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint and Office. SQL Server even has a Business Intelligence Edition!
- Performance: The SQL Server RDBMS is a top-tier data management solution. Ancillary tools like Integration Services (SSIS), Analysis Services (SSAS), Reporting Services (SSRS), PerformancePoint are mature, full featured and include lots of performance monitoring and high availability options. The newer Power BI tools have made tremendous strides in stability and usability since their introduction last year.
- HDInsight and Azure BLOB storage offer a new paradigm for storing and querying data sets of all sizes. Flat files are stored in inexpensive storage, and HDInsight Hive allows "schema over file" table structures and near-ANSI SQL queries. This provides an inexpensive, very fast way to process data from web logs, large call center logs, and other large data volume data sets without importing into a database. Once the processing is complete, the HDInsight cluster (up to 64 nodes) is dropped, leaving the data intact.
- Azure Hybrid Scenarios: Microsoft is rapidly migrating their business offerings to Azure. Business Intelligence is no exception.
- Many new features in SQL Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 are designed to allow seamless management of both on-premise and cloud-based data,From Infrastructure As a Service (IaaS) options like virtual servers for development and test to Power BI for Office 365 sites that revolutionize how data is shared and accessed, Microsoft is making significant investments in the next generation of cloud-based solutions.
- Power BI maturity: Power BI is a combination of add-ons for Microsoft Excel and a special Office365 hosting site. However, the primary presentation tool, Power View, has a long way to go to catch up with such competitors as Tableau and even Microsoft's current analytics platform, PerformancePoint. To address these concerns, Power BI releases are being scheduled out-of-band from normal version upgrades in order to address requirements of the user community.
- Office 365: There are currently size limitations, like a 250GB max for PowerPivot worksheets, which might cause issues with organizations who want to utilize very large data sets with Power BI.
- Messaging: Some of the marketing and best practices around the new cloud-based solutions are unclear, making it difficult for someone who doesn't work in the BI world to understand the benefits and the architecture for such solutions.
- Multiple data manipulation languages: Currently there are four or five distinct query languages in the Microsoft BI stack: T-SQL for SQL Server, MDX and DAX for Analysis Services, and the Power Query Formula Language for Power Query. In Integration Services, there is yet another language used in some of the tasks. That seems to be a lot to keep abreast of!
- Some of the rolling metrics calculations are performed using SSAS cubes. Eg: YoY, YTD, etc
- Slicing and Dicing of reports becomes increasingly simple with the SSAS cubes.
- ETL operations are made nimble with SQL server 2008 R2
- Some of the newer aggregation functions that are used in advanced analytics are missing. Eg: lastNonEmpty ()
- SSAS (from the BI Stack) adapters to interact with MPP are not entirely nimble
- SSIS is by far the easiest and most efficient ETL (Extract, Transform & Load) tool available, after trying many different tools over the years there is no tool that is more flexible and easier to develop solutions with. What takes days/weeks or longer to setup in other tools can be done in at least half the time and perform better.
- SSRS is one of the best web reporting tools available for companies of any size that doesn't require you to re-architect your entire existing database structure. SSRS can connect to all of the major databases and work with data from multiple of them all in the same report. For web reporting that needs to be up and running fast, but be secure and easy to develop on there is no better tool available today.
- SSAS is for more in depth analysis of your data and it has the same capabilities as all other Microsoft tools to connect to multiple data sources and present the data to the user in standardized format. Most users will love that they can access so much of the companies data in Excel using the PivotTables that they probably already use today, but now you are controlling the data and know that it is the correct data. With the new Tabular capabilities in SQL Server 2012 and up it allows end users to help build the initial version of these complex data structures which can then be migrated over to IT to add security, automation and quality control to the final solution.
- The development tools for Microsoft BI in SQL Server 2012 and up are in a bit of flux at the moment. Initially with SQL Server 2012 they were all fully integrated and available with the installer, but now they have moved to it being a separate web download that you have know which version you need to get it working correctly with the version of SQL Server you are working on. Thankfully all of these tools still use Visual Studio as the starting point, but it would be nice to see the tools better integrated going forward and still able to be updated on a regular basis.
- SSRS has not seen any major updates in the last couple of versions of SQL Server and it could really benefit from some of the new advancements that Microsoft has made with the Power BI line of products that are only available if you use the cloud based Office 365 service. It would be really nice to see some of the features that are available in Power BI added to SSRS to make it a more complete web based reporting tool and more accessible to end users as well as IT.
Northcraft Analytics use Microsoft BI for IT Performance Management analysis, along with other visualization and analysis technologies such as Tableau, Microstrategy and Qlikview (to a limited extent). Northcraft Analytics is a provider of BI platform independent applications, so we support our customers across a wide range of verticals leveraging Microsoft Analysis Services/XML/A as the core of our Hybrid Olap (HOLAP) architecture, along with the data warehouse. Some key use cases for analysis would include:
- Configuration Management Analysis - Aging, Mean Time Between Incident and Adoption Analysis
Northcraft Analytics helps our customer base leverage their existing technology investments to analyze and improve IT performance.
- Connecting andJoining Multiple Data Sources Together - Multi-Dimensional SSAS
- Usability in Report Creation for Business Analysts (Excel via Analysis Services specifically), Executives (Performance Point and Power BI) and Power Users (Report Builder)
- Collaboration (via SharePoint only, before the release of Power BI Designer)
- Speed of Analysis - Specifically when leveraging SSAS on databases up to 5 TB
- Speed of ETL processing - Multiple Parallel Sequential Jobs with SSIS/DTS
- Parallel Sequential job Processing within the SSIS GUI, not using DTS
- More Options for non-SharePoint portal Integration
- Reporting Services performance browser rendering time for reports
- SSAS - Cross-Process Area Analysis - On the server side, tying multiple data sources together for a single analyst view
- Enabling Collaboration via the SharePoint Portal for enhanced communication across a large organization
- Analyst Usability and Report Sharing- Breaking beyond the traditional Excel limitations associated with static spreadsheets and record limits (with SSAS only, Server stored data sources and Excel Services)
- Simple Data Mining and Predictive Analysis - Introduce the organization to more advanced Analysis without having to hire a Math Department
- Non-SharePoint portals - This review was written before the full release of Power BI with HTML5 capability. While reporting services can publish to other portals via iframes, it's best to stay within the Microsoft technology stack for simple & quick wins.
- Mobile Device Access - Performance Point only works on an iPad. That is being addressed by PowerBI, but Tableau has had superior mobile device access for some time. Report Builder reports can render in HTML5 with SQL 2012, but the performance could be stronger.
- Overall it is a robust BI platform that is not difficult for a technically-oriented person to learn and use.
- I am a huge fan of Analysis Services and actively try to find ways to get data into cubes for reporting. While learning MDX may be one of the more difficult aspects of MS BI, it is powerful and anyone who has prior experience using T-SQL alone to build complex reports can appreciate its power.
- I have been disappointed in how all the front-end delivery tools have been centered around Excel and SharePoint. I understand it from a business sense but I much preferred the ProClarity interface as a stand-alone ad-hoc reporting tool. Many end-users are intimidated by merely mentioning pivot tables and therefore do not even try to create their own queries.
- Ease of use: For end user Microsoft Power BI is incredibly easy to use. Excel is simple for most people. The presentation through SharePoint gives users with any medium the ability to instantly use the dashboards. End users are able to use mobile, local and just about anyway they would choose.
- High Adoption Rate: We had a very high adoption rate causing many of our users to be incredibly engaged. The adoption of is due to many users already familiar with the tools they grew up on. If you grew up on Excel, then you will instantly feel at home in the tools. The new add ons are rarely a challenge even for novice users.
- Mapping functions: The mapping functions are one of the cooler features. Power Maps automatically recognizes zip codes and other addresses much like other packages. The one item I really liked was the ability to create a movie file that would play over time showing the growth across a map through the different areas. Saved as a MP4 then blended with music made this function particularly delicious for many of our end users.
- The Gateway: MS has provided a really cool little trick. The Gateway. I will explain this part later in my review.
- On the occasion some of the plug ins run unusually slow. I don't know if it's because they run in Silver Light or what. :) The plug ins have locked up more than once (once a week). My installation got so slow that I had to actually reinstall a couple of times over the past year. Is this a show stopper? For me, it was not. There are other features that keep me glued in. The office repair utility makes the re install a snap and if you are a realistic Microsoft fan, then you almost come to expect it.
- The natural Language selection: We are a MS SQL house and we love MS. We have the skills for high end SQL statements with a full development staff but we still wanted to try the natural language selection tool. To no avail. We tried redoing the data and that did not work either. I'd call this beta still.
- I would like to see them improve their visualizations. They are Microsoft and can easily compete with some of the visualizations of Micro Strategy, Tableau and Domo. They simply choose not to.
There is a (not sure if beta or not) version of some of the power views that can be done in Power BI. These views when rendered locally are wonderful. When they are rendered from the web, they can take a little longer. The part that can be agonizing is the showing views through HTML5. This is almost unworkable when using power maps or maps through power view. The response is so jittery that it is almost unusable.
- The Microsoft Business Intelligence stack has come a very long way since its inception. For value and TCO there's really no comparison. Where other vendors charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for database systems, ETL tools, MDM solutions, reporting portals, etc. Microsoft ties all this functionality and more together for the price of just one of those components. Developers that know the toolset well are readily available worldwide and at a lower cost than those with expertise in competing platforms. In partnership with both Dell and HP, Microsoft has recommended reference architectures running on commodity hardware to create highly performant, highly available warehousing and OLTP systems. The SharePoint layer adds a rich user interface and collaboration platform for analytics, data discovery, reporting (both ad-hoc and scheduled) and data driven subscriptions.
- The Microsoft platform - today - comes up short in cross-platform delivery. While efforts are being made to port the Power BI tools to HTML5, so far these tools are only available with this rendering engine in the online (O365) version of the platform. Silverlight is a dying technology, and it can be frustrating to explain the design and interop limitations of the end user facing dashboard tools. For true styled enterprise dashboarding where the look and feel of the artifacts is important (external audiences), it's often necessary to turn to a Microsoft partner tool such as Dundas to augment the stack. These problems will resolve themselves over time, but right now Microsoft comes up short in this area.
- The MDM solution in the Microsoft toolset, Master Data Services, is effectively a blank slate. This is both a strength and a weakness, in that you can model any data domain imaginable without being pushed in a particular direction but having some basic customer or other key domains available either via Codeplex or otherwise would be helpful. Additionally, record lineage isn't handled well OOTB in MDS and this key function shouldn't require a custom implementation.
- Users might complain about products and technologies but somehow it seems Microsoft is an accepted standard. The brand is very strong, people just don't question it and forgive 'bugs' more readily than they might with other products.
- It is an easy choice to buy a Microsoft product - people are less likely to challenge this decision. Again, simply due to strong brand recognition users often feel comfortable with the tools.
- SQL Server Data Integration (also knows as SSIS) seems to provide most functionality you would expect from an ETL tool. However, when you start using it you quickly find out that most transformations perform slower than equivalent functionality when coded directly in SQL. So you go ahead with creating joins, using case statements and data type conversions directly in SQL input statements and potentially end up with a huge piece of code that performs nicely but is hardly maintainable in the future.
- The development environment takes quite a while to get used to. Once you are all set up and doing your development work it is all fine but if you accidentally close some window or 'pane' just figuring out how to get it back can take quite some time.
The business problems that it addresses are:
1. How do our customers feel about us (based on customer satisfaction surveys)
2. How well are we managing our operations?
3. How well are we utilizing our resources?
4. How well are the salespeople doing (based on daily rankings)
5. How profitable were we last week, month, quarter, year...
The list goes on...
- The interfaces of the products are familiar to most people that currently use Microsoft products so its comfortable in that respect
- Creating a report is easy to do with drag/drop functionality. You also have alot of dropdowns. You can use formulas the same way you do in Excel. They have "expressions" which are like formulas with a mix of SQL.
- Publishing a report to the server is simple as well. You go to the server and upload the file from your file directory.
- Setting up subscriptions is simple as well. Anyone can do it with minimal knowledge. Its sort of like creating a recurring calendar event.
- Whether you choose to use 2008 or 2012 the interface is layed pretty much the same. So if you start of in 2008 and then upgrade, you dont have to re-learn anything. Their are slight differences in the two versions but it wont hinder your ability to build a report.
- Its not a web based application yet. So you have to install the client application on your local machine. In addition, you pretty much have to install a the full SSMS package. Its a heavy weighted suite of products
- Compared to Tableau you are limited in your dashboard building ability. In SSRS you have to build a master report along with a subreport where these two items have to have a key that links them together. From there you can break up the screen into multiple quadratics with your visualization.
- If someone wants to view the report on their iPad, you have to make sure that the subscription for their report is in PDF or CSV format. If its in Excel and they dont have Excel on their iPad, they cant view it. If its in CSV, I believe the report will open up in the iPads native spreadsheet app.
- When you are stuck while building a report, the forums for Microsoft pretty much suck. Their technical articles suck also. Microsoft support is pretty much non-existent.
- ETL and Cube reporting through Excel are the two main functions where Microsoft BI excels.
- Without Sharepoint, web reporting is not very robust. SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) provides limited functionality but, without Sharepoint integration, Microsoft BI doesn't match up well against other products.
What kind of sources do you have?
- The parallel data warehouse is a massive storage appliance with exceptional speed.
- The platform is all Microsoft and integrates well with all other Microsoft products and infrastructure.
- Microsoft's support of the product has been outstanding.
- Power View is a quick and easy tool to use for developing dynamic dashboards but lacks some very basic features. The color scheme and styles are applied across all views with no method for choosing which colors apply to certain objects. Users cannot rename visual components, you must make sure you cube field have the names you intend end users to see.
- Report Builder allows for quite a bit of customization but we found it be missing some the features that make other application like Crystal Reports so easy to use. Simple features such as moving columns within a table can be a bit frustrating. Formatting text and writing formulas (expressions) is easier in Crystal Reports.
- Parallel Data Warehouse is not a true SQL Server 2012 database and is missing much of the SQL Server 2012 feature set.
"Microsoft BI tool provides the visibility into the business that could make strategic decisions at a low cost with ease of implementation."
- Microsoft BI is very easy to use and provides a number of interfaces that allow developers to build out solutions in the manner that is easiest for them. Development can be done nearly entirely through GUI interfaces, or you can do advanced programming and application integration.
- Microsoft BI provides enterprise class Business Intelligence for a fraction of the price of their competitors while at the same time making it far easier to manage the entire platform.
- Microsoft BI is already integrated with your entire Office suite and easily integrates with SharePoint, SQL, all Microsoft Products, as well as any third party software or data you use.
- The latest versions of Microsoft BI has addressed nearly all of my complaints. The only remaining item would be the ability to uniformly color coordinate metrics across the entire reporting platform. Example, automatically Profit should be Green while Loss should be Red in any chart. Or Wisconsin should be Green and Minnesota should be Purple. This is VERY minor to me, but to some customers this can be a bigger deal.
- Great BI solution that is low cost.
- Integrates very well with other Microsoft Office tools such as Excel so end users do not need extensive training on a new reporting tool.
- No end user controlled reporting. An analyst with SQL coding knowledge needs to program each report.
- Analysis Services by far outperforms in-memory ROLAP type systems - this allows for very fast ad-hoc drill-down and discovery of huge data sets. Don't believe otherwise - I can assure you it is true. Of course, you have to know what you are doing on the data modeling side in order to get there.
- Analysis Services's ability to integrate with Reporting Services and Microsoft Excel is extremely attractive to business users, especially analysts who are very familiar with the powerful analysis tools already in Excel. The performance of reports built on Analysis Services is really a stand-out feature as well.
- Integration Services is hands-down the most flexible and powerful ETL tool you have ever used. Just try it - there is no one else even close. You will be able to pull data from anywhere, push data to anywhere, and build just about any workflow you can think of around those processes. It is also an all-around great automation tool for your BI environment.
- Reporting Services has both a feature-rich developer-oriented authoring environment (Visual Studio / BI Development Studio) as well as a simplified end-user authoring tool (Report Builder). It has an enormous collection of visualization components built in, as well as an even bigger set of 3rd party controls to allow you to create just about any report you can imagine. The ability to extend Reporting Services with .Net code (if you have the developers) expands your options even further.
- The report authoring solutions in Reporting Services could be better, especially on the Report Builder (end-user oriented) side.
Also, remember that Excel is your friend! No, it should never be used to store data, but it is an amazingly flexible and powerful analysis and reporting tool - especially when combined with Power Pivot and SharePoint.
- Integration is straightforward to a variety of platforms using SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).
- SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) is fast, flexible and extensive.
- Native integration with Excel & Sharepoint provide a rich and familiar user interface for adoption.
- SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is not as extensive as it should or could be.
- PerformancePoint has some great features such as the decomposition tree (for root cause analysis), but it is way too hard to deploy.
Microsoft BI Scorecard Summary
Feature Scorecard Summary
About Microsoft BI
The reporting engine is SQL Server Reporting Services which does not have the visualization capabilities of visualization tools like Tableau or Qlik. Excel has historically been the platform visualization tool. Power BI for Office 365 has done much to improve the discovery and visualization capabilities of Excel.
Microsoft now offers Power BI cloud as the visualization platform with geospatial 3D, natural-language query generation, and self-service ETL along with charting and other data visualizations that can be uploaded and shared through the Power BI service.
The Power BI platform also provides live access to on-premises Microsoft SQL Server instances, and self-service access to third-party cloud sources including Salesforce, Marketo, Zendesk, and GitHub. Mobility is supported through a native iPad app, an iPhone app.
This new platform is viewed by Microsoft as a visualization layer sitting on top of their earlier generation of installed SQL-based technology.
Microsoft BI Competitors
|Power BI Pro||$10||per user per month|
Microsoft BI Technical Details