Microsoft BI and Parallel Data Warehouse in Ambulatory Healthcare
April 05, 2014

Microsoft BI and Parallel Data Warehouse in Ambulatory Healthcare

Nathan Patrick Taylor | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version

SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse

Modules Used

  • PDW, SQL Server 2012, SharePoint 2013, SSIS, SSRS, SSAS, Power View

Overall Satisfaction

We are currently using Microsoft's Parallel Data Warehouse and BI solution across the whole organization. The Alliance hosts an EMR for a network of community health centers. Each health center's data is warehoused on the platform. We also exchange data with organizations outside our network. Like most data warehouse solutions, the problem it addresses is the aggregations and collection of data in a central location. Since the Alliance operates in the healthcare industry we use the tools for patient quality and performance improvement. We have a longer term goal of introducing healthcare analytics.
  • 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.
  • Cleaner, more accurate data returned to end users.
  • Better decision making.
  • Increased control over data.
  • Microsoft BI vs SAP Business Objects
If I could have the best-in-breed approach, I would use PDW as the back-end data store along with SSAS and SSIS. Then I would keep using Crystal Reports (our users were trained in CR already) for our reporting tool since it is superior to Report Builder. We found SSIS to be a much better fit with PDW than SAP's Data Services. As for the dashboards, Power View is a lean and quick tool but doesn't offer the depth of SAP's Dashboards (Xcelsius) or Design Studio. However, at the time of our purchase SAP Design Studio did not connect to SQL Server databases, only SAP HANA and SAP BW.
The product has functioned as promised and the level of support has been excellent. We get a sense the Microsoft is putting a lot of effort into help us succeed with their products. Even though Power View and Report Builder are lacking in some functionality, I have already seen improvements in the tools and I know enhancements are forthcoming.
For PDW, if you keep in mind that it is simply a data store (a really fast and efficient data store) that will help you understand how the other Microsoft tools tools fit in the stack.