Microsoft Maestro to Tune Up Business Performance

Redmond rolls out a beta of a new, server-based business-performance-management app, code-named "Maestro," that leverages its Office System to build, manage and evaluate performance scorecards.

Microsoft will release to private beta this week a new, server-based business-performance-management scorecard application, code-named "Maestro," which helps users perform deep analysis by leveraging the Microsoft Office System to build, manage and use scorecards and key performance indicators.

Chris Caren, general manager of Microsofts Business Applications Group, told eWEEK in an interview Monday that while this first beta is limited to several dozen key partners and customers, the second and public beta, expected sometime this summer, will be far wider. But he declined to be more specific or to say when Microsoft expects the product to ship.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. has been working on Maestro for several years now, and last summer released the first version of the solution to the market, known as the Business Scorecard Accelerator, which is available as a free download. The company said the software has been downloaded about 40,000 times since then.

"So, we have a lot of experience with the version one product, but that is many steps behind where Maestro is, as we have learned a lot from customer and partner feedback and Maestro has thus evolved into a commercial score-carding application," Caren said.

The goal of Maestro "is to enable the next step in our business intelligence product strategy, which lets customers who have deployed data warehouses to support reporting and analysis to now deploy scorecards and strategy maps to employees, in many cases managers, to let them track and analyze business metrics and utilize scorecards to really map individuals and what theyre accountable for to corporate strategy," he said.

This was an evolution from report-centric to more metric-centric business intelligence, Caren said, adding that "Maestro" leveraged the Office System and will run on either version of SharePoint 2003.

It is a Web-based score-carding system that deploys through SharePoint Portal Server. It also can be used with or without the business intelligence available in Microsofts SQL Server product, such as reporting and analysis.

"But after talking to customers, the vast majority say that they will deploy both in parallel," Caren said. "In addition, those partners with complementary business intelligence technology and applications will be able to embed Maestro as the score-carding component of their overall solution."

"It has been built to be really easily embedded into other applications, and the entire front end of Maestro can be consumed as Web services, so the goal is to enable both customers and partners to be able to deploy it as part of a broader application.

"We believe there is a strong opportunity for partners to take our capabilities and deliver solutions that drive the value up to a higher level. This provides those partners with a stronger tool set to customize and deploy into the market," he said.

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