MicroStrategy unveils macro BI tool

MicroStrategy Inc. on Monday unveiled its new 7i consolidated architectural platform designed to allow enterprises to rapidly deploy multiple business intelligence applications.

MicroStrategy 7i combines the speed and features of Microsoft Windows and a zero footprint Web client that can be deployed through all firewalls with no downloads to ease intranet and extranet deployments, said Sanju Bansal, MicroStrategy’s vice-chairman and COO.

“You now have the ability to create reports, format reports and modify reports via the Web in a way that has not been possible with other BI products,” he said. “Because it’s zero footprint, it’s very easy to deploy in B-to-B extranets. It’s tough to get suppliers to use a BI product if there’s downloadable code that has to come through their firewall. A real barrier for a lot of supply chain applications … has been that most products have either Java or Active X downloads.”

The new platform is designed to help companies open their data warehouses to their supply chain partners so they can access sales and inventory data. For example, Proctor & Gamble can access K-Mart’s diaper sales data by store or by region to adjust pricing or launch promotions, he added.

Enterprises have been asking for a single BI platform that can serve as a standard for a full spectrum of BI needs, from query and reporting and OLAP to static and proactive reporting, said Bob Moran, an analyst with the Aberdeen Group in Boston.

MicroStrategy has responded with a consolidated architectural platform while delivering pure Web report creation and formatting capabilities that will give enterprises the ability to answer their questions in the BI style of their choice while maintaining the flexibility to support evolving BI needs, Moran added.

In addition, MicroStrategy reports that 7i allows users to access terabyte databases with the speed of multidimensional cubes.

“Any user can create their own cubes and distribute their own cubes,” Bansal said. “When I am surfing through my cube and run out of data I can immediately go back to the data warehouse underneath and get the data I require. Our cubes don’t require administrator set up or administrator maintenance.”

The new platform also features new low-cost, highly customizable analytical modules designed to permit fast deployments of fully functional business applications against existing databases. This ability to reuse existing databases ensures that organizations can leverage existing investments in IT systems.

“It will be a set of reports and workflows that can be mated to existing data and databases,” Bansal said. “People already have database, [and] they already have data models. They don’t really want to recreate their databases.”

Finally, the company is providing both a portals and Web services integration kit with 7i to make it easier to take the 7i infrastructure and integrate it into the enterprise. For example, companies can use MicroStrategy’s API to integrate analysis and reports into existing portals, and call servers from any existing Web service application, Bansal said.