SQL Server 2005 takes on BI pure plays

Many would-be SQL Server 2005 adopters are staying put on SQL Server 2000, now 3 months after the upgrade's release. This doesn't mean they're disenchanted with the next-gen SQL Server. As it turns out, some customers already expect to replace BI pure play tools with SQL Server's native BI functionality.

Take Dino Hsu, a SQL Server professional with the Taiwanese subsidiary of a global cosmetics company based in the United States. "We have standalone SQL Server 2000 [systems] developed by outside vendors for specific purposes such as voice-response ordering, short messaging, intranet associate information system, online survey, etc., but no 2005 at the moment," he says. "We plan to do BI on SQL server 2005, including OLAP, data mining [and] reporting, because it's functionally flexible and cost effective. For those reasons, his company will replace Cognos PowerPlay, Impromptu and IBM DB2 Intelligent Miner with SQL Server 2005, he says.

Ditto for Jerry Higgins, who is a SQL Server technologist with an ISV and a Microsoft Gold Partner. His company has already tapped SQL Server 2005 in a few customer accounts, and will most likely make greater use of next-gen SQL Server after Microsoft ships its forthcoming Great Plains 9 accounting software.

Higgins' company develops solutions on top of SQL Server and Great Plains. Higgins says his company will most likely be able to curtail its use of a third-party BI solution--Component1's Reporting Classes--by making the move to next-gen SQL Server.

Michael Robert, an information systems consultant with the National Fire Protection Association, says SQL Server 2005 is both hit and miss, BI-wise. On the plus side, says Robert, next-gen SQL Server's improved BI feature stack will probably enable NFPA to wean itself away from some third-party BI tools. "Yes, we currently have limited licenses for older versions of Cognos Powerplay and Impromptu, but licensing Cognos tools for our entire enterprise is too costly. Rather than upgrade Cognos, we plan to replace those reports with SQL Server."

The not-so-good, says Robert, is that Microsoft hasn't done enough to bolster SQL Server 2005's analytic feature set. "One thing [Microsoft] has missed the boat on is a user-friendly cube reader tool. The only way to deliver 3-D data cube browsing to the client is using Excel Pivot tables, which are slow and confuse the heck out of most business users. We really need a browser-based cube reader," he comments.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor for Enterprise Systems. He can be reached at [email protected].