Enterprise migration path for department BI apps

TORONTO – McLean, Va.-based MicroStrategy Inc. released the newest version of its business intelligence tool with capabilities to more easily deploy departmental BI applications, and then consolidate them into an enterprise whole.

“We’ve made the modeling and architecture piece very easy for smaller environments – departmental groups – to be able to roll out business intelligence projects and applications very quickly,” explained Jim Broadley, Canadian country manager for MicroStrategy, during the Toronto stop of the company’s roadshow.

“They can then build (it) out into an enterprise approach,” said Broadley.

Among the enhancements to Version 9 is a new multi-source engine to the ROLAP (Relational Online Analytical Processing) architecture allowing it to span multiple database sources including data warehouses, data marts, operational databases, and departmental databases. Also added is In-memory ROLAP to take advantage of the large amount of addressable memory available nowadays with 64-bit operating systems.

Version 9 also comes with enhancements to its Web interface designed for greater responsiveness and user-friendliness. There are also added options for dashboard design and reporting.


One customer of MicroStrategy’s technology, Ottawa-based Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), uses the BI platform as the foundation for its CIHI Portal that provides access to health-care data to hospitals, regional health authorities and ministries of health nationally.

Manager for CIHI Portal, Sharon Tracy, said CIHI has been using, for four years now, MicroStrategy’s technology to run 40 sites with 300 users. Prior to the implementation, Tracy said “some of the challenges that we have faced is providing good education to some of our clients so that they are able to both use the tool and understand the data that they are using.”

CIHI, said Tracy, plans to migrate to Version 9.

A new customer, Oakville, Ont.-based financial services company Genworth Financial Canada, has approximately 11 different data sources scattered across the organization, and a desire to “have a single source of the truth for our data,” said the company’s vice-president of IT, Cecilia Carbonelli.

After an extensive RFP, she said, MicroStrategy’s offering was chosen by a select group of power users – not IT staff – who liked, for instance, the ability to drag-and-drop items, and import data analytics into popular office productivity applications like Microsoft Excel and Access.


Users across the board at Genworth Financial Canada can get access to data and create reports in a manner that, said Carbonelli, “when I say appraisal date, (marketing and finance) are going to agree that the date means one thing.”


The company plans to use the BI technology nationally, before possibly deploying to Europe and the U.S.

The capabilities in MicroStrategy 9 designed to make departmental BI application deployment easier and faster is “probably one of the more differentiating features of the Version 9 release,” said Rita Sallam, research director at Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc.

As BI applications broadened from being solely a business analyst tool to offering greater reporting capability for a wider base of user types, Sallam said, vendors began offering more enterprise-scale platforms. That meant BI then moved from the realm of the business user to that of IT who had the skills to manage an enterprise-scale BI implementation.

“What happened along the way is that laid out a huge gap in the market for departments who feel they lost all autonomy and control over their BI application, and started looking again at departmental types of solutions,” said Sallam. Again, vendors responded to the demand, producing department-scale BI tools that unfortunately created “silos of information.”

By providing a migration path, she said, MicroStrategy has recognized the void in the market “and is really trying to provide an easier-to-use solution for departments that at the same time is migratable as that organization wants to expand it’s footprint in BI.”



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