The latest freebies from Microsoft in the BI marketplace has eWeek reporters bewildered and pursuing a red herring about DBAs, database servers, and IT systems being overwhelmed by the new programming and data access load generated by all the freebie …. Hell, a complete Blitzkrieg on the BI marketplace has broken out and we are getting reports from the front lines saying network highways are likely to be crowded with data as a consequence.
Make no mistake, Microsoft has launched an determined offensive to secure a monopoly position of 70-90% marketshare on the Windows BI desktop and server marketplaces. Not just OLAP or Portals or Reportwriting but the whole BI market from Data Transfer through Data Mining to Decision Support. And in the process Redmond hopes to get a dominant market share in the total BI market place of 40-60% and growing.
And what about erstwhile Redmond BI partners like Cognos, Crystal Reports/Business Objects, ProClarity, SAS Institute and other Windows primarily players ? They are Collateral Damage. It is strictly business – so when the BI going gets tough “some BI losers are going to take some hits.” Meanwhile, Redmonds BI Giveaway Blitz is on a full court press to secure BI pre-eminence for the following reasons:
1)Strike against Linux and Java as they are winning the low ground – the operational, transactional OLTP “-ties” systems. You know – high reliability, security, availability scalability, and interoperability that frankly Redmond hadnt given a damn about until their technology gap was too wide to close down since 1996s Scalability Daze and then .NET Promise Promises and now the new “enterprise” religion. So Redmonds BI Blitz is a counter-strike, an attack on the high ground of EAI-Enterprise Application Integration and Business Intelligence which can be used to defend and then later attack Linux/Java OLTP. Because Intelligence and Executive Management Systems dominate and drive mid-level to executive suite decisions on what Enterprise Information Integration to adopt. And so Redmond covets the BI high ground.
2)Defend the database SQL Server database fortress. SQL Server 2005 is two years late at least. And SQL Server could dribble out over 2005-2006 (conjectures are reliability and performance problems with .NET Framework will force the issue). So SQL Server has been the beneficiary of huge BI giveaways to help defend the SQL Server fort against Oracle, IBM, and others which can now do cross platform Grid Computing with ever greater aplomb. Grid computing like the Web API is anathema in Redmond because they both shoot holes in the mantra of “it runs for lower cost and best on Windows”.
3)Take advantage of a fractured, pricey, and sometimes vexingly proprietary BI market. This is a classic case of a low hanging fruit market that Microsoft knows and loves to take over. Because its almost an automatic, no-thought drill in Redmond : Lowball pricing/giveaways attached to some money making products (Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2000). Cut out connections to third party non-Windows BI tools unless they conform to Microsoft APIs. Promise (and at least by the third time deliver): if users go Microsoft all the consolidation, overlap, and interfacing between BI products will be on a Microsoft GUI-ized app – easy to setup, easy to use for basic BI, and easy to manage. Make no mistake there is real value here – the costs and revenues deferred however will be collected in BI Software Assurance futures.
4)Establish a cooperative front with the other great Microsoft attacks – on mid-to-enterprise size ERP/CRM/SCM systems and bulking up the “it runs in Office-only” set of Services. Again, Microsoft must negate Linux, Open Source and the Java App servers. How best to do it ? Own the BI and ERP markets that consume a lot of Linux/Java and by making things “increasingly run best in Windows only” to convert reluctant users to the One Microsoft Way.
In sum, the best defense for weaknesses like late-to-be-delivered SQL Server and Longhorn WinFS and the low-to-no interoperability of Microsoft Servers – is to goodie & freebie coat over the lateness of both products while making interoperability irrelevant so long as you operate strictly within the Microsoft playpen.
Signs of a BI BlitzKrieg
Some readers and doubting, longnecked, sand peeping BI execs may say that Microsofts release of OLAP Server and then Analytic Services and now Reporting Services as freebies was a welcome set of sorely needed “expanding the market” ventures. But then others may start to ask questions about:
1)Free and beefed up Reporting Services releases in Jan 2004;
2)Free MOB Scorecards Analyzer & Accelerator as a Web-based app to simplify the collection and measurement of performance metrics introduced in June 2004;.
3)Free Excel Add-in for Analytic Services links exclusively to a bevy of MS Servers starting in June 2004;
4)Free and early Service Pack 1 for Reporting Services in June 2004;
5)Free SQL Server Report Packs for Exchange and Business Solutions CRM in Sep 2004;
6)Upgraded and still free DTS (Data Transformation Services now known as Integration Services) that will reach into non-persistent data stores and has bulked up on ease of programming within Windows space relaeses with SQL Server 2005 in late 2005/early 2006;
7)New and free BI Studio, a Visual Studio 2005 derivative that simplifies creating ETL, OLAP, DataMining, and Reporting Apps;
8)New and free Report Builder tool as part of BI Studio that simplifies creating dashboards and drilldowns;
9)New and free Maestro that helps create realtime scorecarding and workflow messaging BI Business Activity Monitoring apps.
Think of Microsoft as now giving away for free with every copy of SQL Server a complete and, on the Windows platform, very competitive BI stack.
Think of these actions as follows – could they be done by any vendor other than Microsoft for any period of time ? Well it appears that IBM and Oracle are starting to match the BI freebies to stay even with Microsoft in the database arena. This is one of the litmus tests for abusive monopoly power – charging nothing for products in an existing market(BI) knowing full well that the company can make up with sales in a complimentary market (database) that its competitors have no entry into. Microsoft seems to be flaunting its power and is in full flex mode. BI vendors get to Grim and Bear it.
(c)JBSurveyer Sep 2004 original, Apr 2005 update