RealTime IT News

Microsoft Bolsters Reporting Services with Buy

Microsoft Monday moved to build out its business intelligence suite by acquiring privately-held ActiveViews for an undisclosed sum.

The Redmond, Wash. company has been seeking for ways to improve its SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services software platform, a key piece of the company's SQL Server used by corporate employees to gauge the operations of their businesses. SQL Server is in turn a component of the company's Windows Server System, a suite that provides XML-based Web services .

By acquiring Provo, Utah-based ActiveViews, a tiny company with five employees, Microsoft will add ad hoc reporting capabilities to allow users to tap data stored in several systems, according to a company spokesperson. Two workers will relocate to Microsoft, with the other three remaining in their current positions, the spokesperson told internetnews.com.

The ActiveViews system is designed to present a business view of the data an end user is interested in examining. Microsoft said in a press statement ActiveViews' technology will provide employees more efficient access to information at every level in the company, giving them "a window into the database so they can literally explore the information."

End users can also modify reports and build new reports in a Web-based environment, an important perk in an IT world that is increasingly relying on the Internet for deliverables.

Bill Baker, general manager for business intelligence at Microsoft, said in the statement that customers directly asked Microsoft for ad hoc reporting services, with industry experts nudging them in that direction as well.

"There is a significant amount of data out there and an increasing need for every employee to have access to that data to make decisions. By incorporating the technology provided by ActiveViews, SQL Server Reporting Services will help users access information more quickly and efficiently," said Baker.

Demand for such on-the-fly reporting services features exploded last July, when larger business intelligence software providers acquired smaller rivals or partners. Business Objects acquired Crystal Decisions, Hyperion bought Brio Software and Actuate picked up Nimble Technologies.

Analysts, who estimate the market for business intelligence products in the billions of dollars over the next few years, said at the time that reporting is crucial to providing a more intuitive business intelligence platform.