Microsoft BI provides the best bang for your buck, now and into the future.
Overall Satisfaction with Microsoft BI
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!
With over 20 years in IT, I have experienced a full range of relational and non-relational data solutions, from Oracle and Informix to MongoDB and Hadoop. In my opinion, the Microsoft BI stack is the most complete, well-rounded, high performing data management system on the planet right now. More and more, the ability to make data-driven decisions sets organizations apart from their competitors, and no one offers a better solution than Microsoft and its partners. As more and more of what we do in business life moves to the cloud, Microsoft is again leading the way with its Azure platforms.
The primary reason I give this a 10 is because of my previous experience with Microsoft. While I can be effective with other tools and solutions, my experience is primarily focused on the Microsoft solution stack and surrounding tools. Some people are Java-centric, some are C#-centric; I am Microsoft SQL Server-centric. Even with the explosion of "big data" tools, I always seem to gravitate toward the Microsoft solution because I know and understand it better than any other solutions.
Any organization that requires a full-featured, high performance data storage and analytics platform should consider the Microsoft BI stack. However, many organizations are tied to another RDBMS system because of critical business applications like SAP or Oracle EBS, and their internal development and support teams are experts in a different stack. In those cases, integrating the Microsoft Business Intelligence stack can require a steeper learning curve than "Microsoft shops".