Microsoft Nets BI Vendor ActiveViews

Microsoft announced that it has bought ActiveViews-a small, privately held BI vendor-in order to put reporting tools into the hands of end users in the companies that employ Microsoft's SQL Server Reporting Services platform.

Microsoft Corp. announced Monday that it has acquired ActiveViews, a small, privately held maker of a business-intelligence platform based in Provo, Utah. The announcement, made at Gartner Business Intelligence Summit 2004 in Chicago, did not include information on how much money traded hands.

According to Tom Rizzo, Microsofts director of product management for SQL Server, the motivation behind the sale was to satisfy enterprise demand for getting a simple-to-use reporting tool into the hands of end users.

This is only the latest in a series of bold moves into the field of business intelligence on Microsofts part. The company has been adding BI functionality to its SQL Server relational database since Version 7.0.

It continued in the SQL Server 2000 version, and since January, the company has been making its SQL Server Reporting Services BI tool available for free download to customers who have either the standard or the enterprise level of the SQL Server license.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read Microsofts partners take on how Reporting Services will cut costs.

During the past three months, downloads of Reporting Services have been in the "tens of thousands," Rizzo said. Customer response has been that the tool is "a great, robust developer environment for enterprise reporting, [but] they also wanted the ability for the end user to develop very rich reports," he said.

With ActiveViews, end users will be able to employ simple drag-and-drop editing to tweak and customize reports originally created by developers. Rizzo said. The skills required to use the tool will be similar to those needed to understand Microsoft applications such as Outlook or Excel, he said. Administrators will set up data sources, for example, so that end users wont need to know what the name of a given database is.

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End users also will be able to publish reports to share with colleagues or to send back to administrators who, in turn, can further tweak the reports.

As part of the deal, Microsoft also acquired two ActiveViews developers from a company staff that was "around five people overall," Rizzo said.

Microsoft is not disclosing details about a product-shipping schedule, licensing or pricing.

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