Microsoft to Add Reporting to SQL Server

Move aims to allow Microsoft partners to broaden offerings without investing in building reporting infrastructure.

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced that it is adding reporting capabilities to its SQL Server business intelligence platform, a move that financial analysts predicted could threaten reporting software vendors.

Microsofts plan is to provide what it calls an "open and extensible reporting platform," known as Reporting Services, that its partners can use to broaden their offerings without having to invest in building reporting infrastructure, said company officials, in Redmond, Wash.

Reporting Services will support custom application development through a Web services interface and will support several different data sources including OLE DB and ODBC. Output formats supported include Web browsers and Microsoft Office applications.

Developers will be able to use Microsoft Visual Studio .Net and the .Net Framework to extend the capabilities of the platform, so that it can connect to custom data sources, produce additional output formats and deliver to more devices, Microsoft officials said.

Microsoft is expected to deliver a beta of Reporting Services in the first half of this year, officials said.

Cognos, one of the companies that analysts said could see its business hurt by Microsofts latest moves, is meanwhile readying the next version of its Series 7 business intelligence platform.

The Ottawa-based company is expected to announce next week version 2 of the platform. This version will feature a predictive analytics technology in the PowerPlay OLAP server known as Instant Projection, which will predict future business trends based on historical data.

PowerPlay will also see significant improvements in scalability and performance with the capability of handling up to 2 million categories and 1 billion input records, Cognos officials said.

Cognos will also make its platform "end-to-end zero footprint" in this release. The browser-based version of the software will have parity with the client-server version with no use of Java applets, officials said. This will make the software more easy to use in a distributed fashion throughout the enterprise.

Cognos Series 7 Version 2 will run Microsoft Internet Explorer, from version 5 on and Netscape from version 7 up. It is expected to ship by the first week of March.

Separately on Wednesday, Cognos announced a strategic alliance with Fujitsu Ltd. that will combine PowerPlay with Fujitsus Sympho Navigator for the Japan enterprise market.

The combination will provide enterprise customers with the ability to build applications that can present large volumes of data to users for analysis and exploration, Cognos and Fujitsu officials said. The two companies will also establish a collaborative support and services organization.