PerformancePoint Server 2007, due in the first half of 2007, expands Microsofts footprint beyond BI, and brings it into the realm of performance management—an area that uses BI metrics to answer the "whats next" question for businesses.
However, the real mojo behind PerformancePoint Server is its ability to bring together Microsoft "classic" technologies including SQL Server (reporting services, analysis services and data transformation services), Office (Excel and Excel Services in Office 2007), SharePoint Server 2007, and to some degree Microsofts next generation ERP suite, Dynamics.
"Office and SQL are two distinct entities. That there is now a common mechanism to display their goods [through PerformancePoint]…the thing is, theyre integrated," said Keith Gile, principal analyst with Forrester Research.
"PerformancePoint gives a branded name to something that isnt specifically SQL or Office and represents applications that will be built on top of it."
In a June 6 Web cast Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft Business Solutions group, stressed that Microsoft is aligning investments across the company to complete an integrated performance management platform—one that will support Microsofts whole strategy around being a "People Ready" business.
"Our goal is to deliver business intelligence value to the worker, to every decision, by evolving BI to performance management and use BI to expand and really be part of Microsoft Office to bring together structured and unstructured information."
The goal is also to build a new category around performance management, competing with the likes of pure play stalwarts Cognos, Hyperion and Cartesis, to name a few.
To do this, Microsoft is building out a huge partner network—displacing many of the BI partners its had in place—around PerformancePoint, from big system integrators to regional implementers.
In recent months Microsoft has trained 500 partners on PerformancePoint, according to Raikes.
Of those partners, 100 are building new BI applications encompassing a dozen separate industries.