Microsoft - Your Old Trusted Friend?
September 25, 2014

Microsoft - Your Old Trusted Friend?

Julia Gusman | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 1 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version

SQL Server 2012

Modules Used

  • SSIS, SSAS, Reporting Services

Overall Satisfaction with Microsoft BI

We see Microsoft BI used at many organisations and it seems to be just another obvious answer when it comes to decisions about technology - Microsoft is very firmly embedded in many companies. Reminds me a bit of my parents who still think "Microsoft" is synonymous with "Computer". What I would really like to know is how much Microsoft BI as a set of tools is a conscious choice rather than historical decision or a habit?
  • 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.
I have been using the open source open standards BI tool 'Pentaho' before moving into the Microsoft space and I must admit I was surprised how much more difficult it is to do development in Microsoft. Having said that the cubes (SSAS) and reporting (SSRS) side does seem more robust and not all that difficult to get your head around. Where Microsoft is lacking in comparison with Pentaho is the ETL tool. SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is much more difficult to learn than Pentaho Data Integration (PDI) and even when you know exactly what you are doing it still takes more steps to get the same job done. Regarding the performance it seems that since a lot of the ETL logic gets put onto the database (using SQL statements) it won't make much of a difference which tool you use.
Microsoft is widely adopted and it does get the job done. For legal reasons, support perspective and resourcing it is often the tool of choice and, of course, the technology is there to support the day-to-day business.
Many companies consider SSIS as 'free' since it comes included with the SQL server database. It seems an obvious choice if your data resides in SQL server to go ahead and utilize Microsoft BI tools. Notice, this is not the only option you have but one that many people would consider convenient. However, if most of your data does not reside in SQL server already, consider a wider choice of options for your BI. Another factor is the availability of skilled resources to maintain your BI environment. Due to its popularity on the market you will find most of people in the BI world are able to work with Microsoft BI.