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Review: "Microsoft BI -- Say GoodBI to the Competition for the Moment."
https://www.trustradius.com/business-intelligence-biMicrosoft BIUnspecified7.8594101
Lee Cullom profile photo
February 03, 2015

Review: "Microsoft BI -- Say GoodBI to the Competition for the Moment."

Score 9 out of 101
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version
SQL Server 2012
Modules Used
SSAS, SSRS, Power BI, Report Builder, Excel, Power BI Designer

Overall Satisfaction with Microsoft BI

Northcraft Analytics use Microsoft BI for IT Performance Management analysis, along with other visualization and analysis technologies such as Tableau, Microstrategy and Qlikview (to a limited extent). Northcraft Analytics is a provider of BI platform independent applications, so we support our customers across a wide range of verticals leveraging Microsoft Analysis Services/XML/A as the core of our Hybrid Olap (HOLAP) architecture, along with the data warehouse. Some key use cases for analysis would include:

- Incident Assignment Bottleneck Analysis

- Service Level Agreement Breach Identification and Probabilistic Prediction

- Configuration Management Analysis - Aging, Mean Time Between Incident and Adoption Analysis

Northcraft Analytics helps our customer base leverage their existing technology investments to analyze and improve IT performance.

  • Connecting andJoining Multiple Data Sources Together - Multi-Dimensional SSAS
  • Usability in Report Creation for Business Analysts (Excel via Analysis Services specifically), Executives (Performance Point and Power BI) and Power Users (Report Builder)
  • Collaboration (via SharePoint only, before the release of Power BI Designer)
  • Speed of Analysis - Specifically when leveraging SSAS on databases up to 5 TB
  • Speed of ETL processing - Multiple Parallel Sequential Jobs with SSIS/DTS
  • Parallel Sequential job Processing within the SSIS GUI, not using DTS
  • More Options for non-SharePoint portal Integration
  • Reporting Services performance browser rendering time for reports
  • SAP Business Objects,Tableau Server,MicroStrategy Analytics,Oracle BI Foundation Suite

We chose Microsoft BI due to performance, functionality, TCO and openness (yes, I know, this sounds strange for Microsoft).

  • SAP Business Objects has a less attractive GUI for end users, inferior Excel integration, inferior SharePoint integration, requires more labor to enhance performance and has higher licensing costs than Microsoft BI.
  • Tableau Server has no real ETL capabilities... and thus requires an underlying BI stack. So, while Tableau rules the visualization world with Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server doesn't give us all of the capability we need for a full BI solution for our clients. Tableau Desktop makes an excellent complementary product to Microsoft BI. We typically recommend using both to customers in certain situations.
  • Microstrategy - Comprehensive Multidimensional/HOLAP platform, expensive, visualizations are better than SAP BO, but not as strong as Microsoft, especially Microsoft SSAS + Tableau (which can be acquired at a lower price point). Excel integration isn't as seamless as SSAS to Excel either.
  • Oracle - Expensive, patchwork of acquired BI tools rather than a platform, inferior visualizations. This platform is meant for customers who are already trapped in Oracle licensing.
Microsoft BI is fundamental to our suite of BI applications. That being said, Northcraft Analytics is focused on delighting our customers, so if the underlying factors of our decision change, we would choose to re-write our BI applications on a different stack. Luckily, mathematics are the fundamental IP of our technology... and is portable across all BI platforms for the foreseeable future.
It's deployed in departmental and company-wide implementations through our customer base. In the global 2000, we typically find either Microsoft or SAP as the corporate standard. There is probably a bit more SAP than Microsoft out there, particularly for ROLAP implementations. When MOLAP is leveraged, there are more Microsoft customers.
If you combine Microsoft SQL enterprise licensing with Azure & Power BI, it's actually difficult to find a data source that can't be leveraged. This has never been a negative in our customer implementations.
We constantly hear our customers complementing Performance Point visualizations, which are not even as advanced and rich as Power BI Designer, so we can only assume that Microsoft is ahead of the competition here. In fact, even Excel Visualizations are attractive when you move to Excel 2010 & Above... and remove the gridlines. Before any real exposure to Power BI Desginer, Tableau was clearly winning the visualization battle with Geographical Maps/Tree Maps, however Microsoft now has introduced those in Power BI. Still, Tableau has advantages in Gantt charts and a few additional areas. I'd also like to see what's next with Tableau 9 for comparison with Microsoft PowerBI (since it is so new).
This is prefaced with the assumption that SharePoint is being used as the portal.

Appropriate:

  • SSAS - Cross-Process Area Analysis - On the server side, tying multiple data sources together for a single analyst view
  • Enabling Collaboration via the SharePoint Portal for enhanced communication across a large organization
  • Analyst Usability and Report Sharing- Breaking beyond the traditional Excel limitations associated with static spreadsheets and record limits (with SSAS only, Server stored data sources and Excel Services)
  • Simple Data Mining and Predictive Analysis - Introduce the organization to more advanced Analysis without having to hire a Math Department

Not Appropriate:

  • Non-SharePoint portals - This review was written before the full release of Power BI with HTML5 capability. While reporting services can publish to other portals via iframes, it's best to stay within the Microsoft technology stack for simple & quick wins.
  • Mobile Device Access - Performance Point only works on an iPad. That is being addressed by PowerBI, but Tableau has had superior mobile device access for some time. Report Builder reports can render in HTML5 with SQL 2012, but the performance could be stronger.