Microsoft Drives Mass Adoption of BI by Hiding It

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-09-29 Print this article Print

Bill Baker, general manager of SQL Server Business Intelligence at Microsoft, talks up the software giant's latest BI offerings.

Bill Baker, Microsoft Corp.s general manager of SQL Server Business Intelligence, thinks few people wake up and say, "Im going to do BI today." Instead, they say, "Im doing my job today." Thats the mass audience Microsoft is targeting with its latest business intelligence offerings, which include new SQL Server Report Packs for Exchange and Business Solutions CRM; Report Builder, a tool that enables simple report creation via a drag-and-drop environment; and Integration Services, which is a rechristened version of DTS (Data Transformation Services) that will reach into nonpersistent data stores such as those found in RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds or Web services. Baker sat down with Associate Editor Lisa Vaas at the PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server) user conference in Orlando, Fla., to refute the common user misconception that enabling end users with report building will crush the infrastructure under a data deluge, and to talk about Microsofts latest BI advances.
Is it a legitimate concern to worry about end users flooding the system with reports after they get their hands on Report Builder?
[It] is a legitimate concern for DBAs [database administrators] to have. If 10,000 people randomly started writing reports, life could get interesting. But the first thing to understand is DBAs have to give users permission before they write reports. Thats part of role-based permission. You can shut that off for a lot of reasons, and there are a lot of reasons to do that: compliance, for example, or whatever a given corporate policy is. Do you really want users to start cranking out reports en masse? Some IT managers say no. Read more here. The second thing is, we cache very cleverly. If you and I pull the same report, we only keep one copy if its cached. We cache the smallest number of reports possible. Is it true, though, that youll wind up with three report versions, as users tell me? As in, the original report in the OLTP [online transactional processing] system, the flattened Reporting Services version and the rendered report in database cache? You definitely will have [the data stored in] operational sources—whether thats in order systems, inventory systems or whatever. Its very common to have a data warehouse, [for example,] for a lot of good reasons. And that data warehouse often represents more data than [the original operational sources]. Next Page: You dont have to duplicate data to do a report.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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