Looking to grow its Power BI business intelligence and data analytics ecosystem, Microsoft went shopping close to home for its latest buy.
Microsoft has acquired enterprise report rendering technologies from fellow Redmond, Wash., technology firm Forerunner Software for an undisclosed amount, the company announced on April 2. Specifically, the software giant has snapped up Forerunner Mobilizer and Report Viewer.
Forerunner Mobilizer enables organizations to turn business insights from Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) into reports that can be viewed on a variety of mobile devices. Forerunner Report Viewer can be used to embed reports derived SSRS into web applications.
The acquisition effectively spells the end of Mobilizer and Report Viewer as commercial products, although Forerunner pledged to provide support to current customers through Oct. 20, 2020. Meanwhile, Microsoft has some big plans for the software.
Forerunner's technology will also help pave the way for SSRS reports in the Power BI service, using client-side rendering capabilities to help deliver the experience, added Finlan. Power BI is Microsoft's cloud-based business intelligence (BI) offering, using the company's public massive public cloud infrastructure to crunch the numbers and generate interactive data visualizations, dashboards and reports.
The deal will also help Microsoft squeeze SSRS reports into smartphones and other mobile devices. Finlan expects the Power BI mobile apps to provide a snappier, more responsive user interface while users await report parameter values and navigate within reports.
Finally, Forerunner's rendering technology will offer developers more options.
Microsoft's mission to popularize BI in the workplace goes beyond the typical mobile devices that today's business professionals tote around.
In March, Microsoft released a version of its Power BI app for HoloLens, the company's self-contained mixed reality headset for developers and enterprise customers. Mixed reality is Microsoft's take on Windows-based augmented reality and virtual reality.
Running on a HoloLens, Power BI's dashboards, charts and other data visualizations appear to float in the air in front of the user while updating in real time. Users can opt to stash their Power BI content out of the way in a "docking belt" or pin it to a real-world location.
Behind the scenes, Microsoft has been working to help Power BI work better with other business software platforms. During the Microsoft Business Forward event in Amsterdam March 21, Microsoft announced Common Data Service (CDS) for Analytics, new functionality that will allow Power BI users to tap into a more diverse set of business applications and data sources, including third-party applications like Salesforce.