Great value for money with Microsoft's BI
Updated January 15, 2016

Great value for money with Microsoft's BI

Robert Goodman | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version

SQL Server 2012 Enterprise

Modules Used

  • Database platform
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)
  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS)
  • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)

Overall Satisfaction with Microsoft BI

  • 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.
IBM Cognos, Informatica,and MicroStrategy. We picked the Microsoft solution primarily due to the best TCO and match for our requirements.
We are pleased with the Microsoft BI solution, its cost, benefit, and our ability to easily find resources to support this technology stack.
  • Firstly, reduction in cost from the three previous vendors which we were supporting. Just by replacing these legacy pieces of software, we have saved money.
  • We are working to quantify the cost savings achieved in business improvement from the reporting that we have provided. We don't have a specific figure as of yet, but the reports that are now available 'on-the-fly' have saved many man hours. Previously, data needed to be consolidated across multiple systems which could have taken weeks of manual manipulation. Now, this data is available in one platform and we have cross-functional reporting capability.

Using Microsoft BI

3000 - Finance, Human Resources, Admissions, Student Services, and Advancement
8 - We have 4 BI developers, 2 report writers, 1 hardware infrastucture, and 1 database adminstrator supporting the project.
  • We use the database platform to warehouse the data from our disparate admissions, student information, human resources, finance, and advancement systems.
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is used to move the data from these ERPs into staging - then onto our dimension model and SSAS cubes.
  • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is used to report on this dimensional data and provide parameterized, drill-through reporting.
  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) is used to build cubes for specific functional areas. These cubes can then connect back to the dimensional data as required for drill-through analysis.
  • Using the enterprise version, we leveraged data-driven subscriptions. This feature allows you to publish reports to specific individuals or groups based upon data events. This has become useful for a wide variety of things. In a previous company, I used this feature to drive process improvements by notifying teams of early task completion. In some cases, we were able to drive a process that typically took 4 weeks down to a process that only took 2.5 weeks. That led to revenue gains.
  • Since Microsoft BI contains an out-of-the-box ETL tool (SSIS), we've been able to leverage this functionality to help support other projects. Recently, we created a SalesForce integration to Workday.
  • We have been able to setup nightly data feeds using SSIS which extract known sets of data for our statisticians. While the data isn't formatted in SAS dataset, it outputs the data in a common format that is easy for the statisticians to consume and transform into a useful SAS dataset.

Evaluating Microsoft BI and Competitors

Prior to running Microsoft Business Intelligence, Georgetown was running multiple products to support our BI efforts. We had Informatica in place to handle ETL, Oracle 11g as a database platform, and Cognos 10.2 as our reporting engine.

Microsoft BI Implementation

Be prepared to help business users define their data. We found that different campuses had different definitions for the same thing. This took some change management and negotiating to get each team to come to a common understanding.
  • Implemented in-house
  • Professional services company
We utilized a combination of our in-house staff and a professional services company named Entigence.

Microsoft BI Training

We had Microsoft SQL BI specialists on staff. We would advise to have training on the platform otherwise.

Configuring Microsoft BI

Microsoft BI Support

We are not currently utilizing Microsoft's technical support.
No - We have in house resources that can support the platform.

Using Microsoft BI

The product is very usable compared to competitive solutions. I didn't give it a full 10 because Microsoft needs to improve their Report Builder module.

Microsoft BI Reliability

The product has been reliable.
SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) can drag at times. We created two report servers and placed them under an F5 load balancer. This configuration has worked well. We have seen sluggish performance at times due to the Windows Firewall.

Integrating Microsoft BI

  • Ellucian Banner.
  • Workday HCM.
  • Workday Financials.
  • PeopleSoft Admissions.
  • Apply Yourself.
  • Sage Millennium.
Each system had to be analyzed separately. ETL routines were written separately for each system. It was tedious and complex.
  • We will continue to support systems that are key pillars to our business units.
Yes, Microsoft BI will support these future integrations.

Relationship with Microsoft

Utilize Microsoft's Higher Education EES (Enrollment for Education Soulutions) licensing. This is a great value.