BI Country Bumpkin: The Rest of the Story

I can remember long car trips across the sea-waving plains of Kansas, Nebraska, eastern Colorado in which every 3 hours or so I was held in thrall by Paul Harveys reading of the news – and then telling listeners the rest of the story. Well after my foray into BI Monopoly Pricing about a fortnight back, I thought I would tell readers the rest of the story.

In that piece I implied that Microsoft, for the price of its new SQL Server 2005 database was giving away free a complete BI Stack. And Microsoft is giving away a comprehensive BIStack (ETL, OLAP, DataMining, Reporting Server, Report+OLAP+Graphics designer, Notification and Event manager, BI Management Services) secure in the knowledge that none of the pureplay BI ISVs can come close to matching its offer. The BI pure plays dont have a database to fall back on.But it is not a complete BI Stack.

Conspicuously missing from the SQL Server 2005 BI Stack are dashboard/portal/scorecarding capabilities. The infrastructure for these is being provided in such key SQL Server BI services such as Notification and Event services and Key Performnace Indicators. However, the basic Dashboard/Portal and Business Scorecard Manager have been allocated to Office and Share Point Portal Server. Why ?

Well of course Redmond may be playing a keep-the-DOJ-away card – see Open Source is giving away a BI stack for free but we are not giving away a complete BI Stack. See former partners like Business Objects, Cognos, and Hyperion have nothing to complain about – we charge for Share Point and Business Scorcard Manager and so our BI Stack is obviously not available for free. Right next to free but …

More likely Microsoft is playing the Keep the-Office-cash-cow-alive card. For the past two years, Microsoft has been giving away all sorts of Office dependent goodies for … yep nothing. They are also making Office the cornerstone of the Smart Client thrust. Nothing wrong here-because this will have one of the clearest delineations of what businesses may want to choose to do. Use platform independent software running in any desktop or browser and able to run from any server including Microsofts versus using works-best-in-Vista, possibly-in-Windows-XP, not-likely-in-Windows-2000 and better-get-off-that-Win-9x junk software. And of course it will run best on 64bit Windows Server 2006/Longhorn and not much else.

Now Microsoft will be delivering likely weakened reliability for the first year or two on Vista+Longhorn Server (see our Just Good Enough note) but those problems will eventually get fixed. Better security but still not best(too much legacy code and practices persist). Still problems with scalability (SQL Server 2005 was not able to crack the top TPC benchmarks and only one TPH benchmark even using 64bit processors)but defiantly rock bottom marks for interoperability. But hey, Redmond is now selling a complete Smart Client+Somewhat Trusted Server environ – where everything runs best in Windows which still has the most apps but is no longer available for the lowest price or best innovation – but we promise to catch up fast.

Now given that Vista represents a major transition and rewrite for both Microsoft and its ISVs, the upgrade and conversion is not likely to be smooth sailing, Gartner Group is already cautioning clients about that. Also PC sales are in slowdown. Apple Mac will be on comparable hardware. Linux is delivering to early adopters real competitive advantage on the server side. And SOA+ESB+ Web 2 with network delivered services certainly deliver interoperability and greater re-use, but the learning curve is not easy.

Thus, Vista and Longhorn/Windows Server 2006 will make or break the Microsoft reach for a70-90% monopoly hold on the client+server market that is currently only available to Microsoft on the client. It is make or break time because if Web 2 or Apple or Linux prosper – the current Windows client 90% monopoly cannot persist.

Microsoft knows this well. So they are racing to establish the equivalent monopoly in BI, Content Management and ERP applications and maybe some Web delivered services. And so that is The Rest of the Story.

(c)BI Country Bumpkin 2005