Microsoft Unleashes a Deluge of BI Goodies

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

The company is flooding the BI market yet again, this time announcing new SQL Server Report Packs for Exchange and Business Solutions CRM; Report Builder, a tool that opens up simple report creation to the masses; and a rechristened version of DTS that wi

ORLANDO, Fla.—Microsoft Corp. is flooding the BI market yet again. This time around, the company is announcing new SQL Server Report Packs for Exchange and Business Solutions CRM; Report Builder, a tool that opens up simple report creation to the masses; and 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. Bill Baker, general manager for SQL Server Business Intelligence for the Redmond, Wash., company, is expected to announce the trio of business intelligence announcements during his opening keynote at the PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server) Community Summit here on Wednesday.
The report packs, which are available for free download starting on Wednesday, provide users with modifiable templates of commonly used Reporting Services reports. According to Alex Payne, senior product manager for SQL Server, the report packs include templates for commonly run reports in the current version of Exchange and in Microsoft CRM 1.2. For example, common reports for Exchange include queries into which users send the largest e-mail files, whose in-box is of a certain size or who receives the most e-mail. Common reports in CRM include those concerning account details or a report on sales pipelines that shows customer details. The Exchange Report Pack includes 13 templates, and the CRM Report Pack contains six, Payne said.
Microsoft intends to make more Report Packs available based on customer requests, but Payne declined to say what applications they would pertain to. Baker also is expected to confirm in his keynote that the company is putting the ActiveViews Inc. BI technology it acquired in April into SQL Server 2005 Beta 3. The technology, which has been dubbed Reporting Services Report Builder, is geared to enable end users to build reports in an ad hoc environment. End users will be able to build reports from scratch or to modify existing reports within a simple drag-and-drop environment, without having to understand the intricacies of database schema, database connection strings or the construction of SQL queries, Payne said, as is now the case with building reports in Reporting Services. Do you really want users to start cranking out reports en masse? Some IT managers say no. Read more here. "It hides the complexity of underlying database schema so they can more easily build reports," Payne said. Reports will be generated from either the SQL Server relational database or off of Analysis Services, which is Microsofts OLAP (online analytical processing) engine. "What it means for the end user is building your report with freedom of thought. You dont have to call somebody and say, Build me a report for sales for the last quarter. I can drag and drop in a Microsoft environment, and I can build my own business report." Baker also is expected to announce that additional Microsoft products will embed Reporting Services into their applications. Both MOM (Microsoft Operations Manager) and the next version of CRM will have Reporting Services for a reporting environment, Payne confirmed. Next Page: The renaming of Data Transformation Services.

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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