Best TCO of any comprehensive database and analytics platformThe 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.,10,,10,Traditional "canned" reporting. Online transaction processing systems. Data warehousing. High availability. Self-service analytics. Collaborative decision making.,,Implemented in-house,9,Online training In-person training Self-taught,8,8,I'm always an advocate of self-learning. Training is an opportunity to catch things you missed and get answers to questions that have arisen through your use, not a primary vehicle for mastering a tool.,No,7Build a highly automated and flexible BI solution for your organization!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.,Greatly reduced reporting project development time (and associated costs). Significantly larger pool of experts to assist on large / ad-hoc projects. Faster availability of critical business data to our users (due to decreased development time as well as performance of overall system - we are able to keep the data very fresh). Significantly increased ETL / data integration capabilities means that more legacy and external system data is making it into the data warehouse.,10,10,Forcasting Asset Management Pricing Sales Reporting Customer Satisfaction Reporting Detailed Account-level Cost and Revenue Reporting,,,Implemented in-house,10,Online training Self-taught,9,I have been working with this BI stack since before the 2000 version (even though it didn't really get pulled together until the 2000 version). Because of this, I have been steadily picking up more exposure to and experience with the parts of the stack as they were introduced and evolved; and, I was in a position to be able to build solutions with the stack all along the way. Since that may not be your background with this tool, I would highly recommend getting some training before diving into a big project built with Microsoft BI. You will want training in: (1) a data modeling methodology for multi-dimensional data (i.e. Kimball method) so you can use Analysis Services, (2) Analysis Services itself, and (3) Integration Services. SQL Server and Reporting Services are a little easier for the average developer to pick up (in my experience). But if you can, get the whole end-to-end integrated training from Pragmatic Works and you'll be building complete solutions much more quickly than you expected.,No,10
Microsoft BI
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Sean Brady profile photo
September 06, 2013

Microsoft BI Review: "Build a highly automated and flexible BI solution for your organization!"

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Online Training

I have used on-line training from Microsoft and from Pragmatic Works. I would recommend Pragmatic Works as the best way to get up to speed quickly, and then use the Microsoft on-line training to deep dive into specific features that you need to get depth with.
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Feature Scorecard Summary

Pixel Perfect reports (30)
Customizable dashboards (36)
Report Formatting Templates (34)
Drill-down analysis (32)
Formatting capabilities (36)
Integration with R or other statistical packages (29)
Report sharing and collaboration (36)
Publish to Web (33)
Publish to PDF (32)
Report Versioning (29)
Report Delivery Scheduling (33)
Delivery to Remote Servers (14)
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.) (35)
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization (32)
Predictive Analytics (31)
Multi-User Support (named login) (34)
Role-Based Security Model (31)
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete) (34)
Single Sign-On (SSO) (15)
Responsive Design for Web Access (25)
Dedicated iOS Application (20)
Dedicated Android Application (20)
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile (26)
Javascript API (13)
iFrames (12)
Java API (11)
Themeable User Interface (UI) (11)
Customizable Platform (Open Source) (9)

About Microsoft BI

Microsoft BI benefits from the ubiquity of SQL server and the set of tools built around the database, including an ETL layer, master data management, data cleansing, report and reporting.

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.

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Microsoft BI Technical Details

Deployment Types:SaaS
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Mobile Application:No