RealTime IT News

Biz Intel Expanded in Microsoft's SQL Server

Microsoft is expanding business intelligence capabilities in its database software with two free software service packs that augment the reporting capabilities in SQL Server 2000.

The packs were unveiled Wednesday at the annual 2004 Professional Association of SQL Server Community Summit in Orlando, Fla., where the company also updated attendees on product name changes and additional support within SQL Server division.

Kirsten Ward, lead product manager for SQL Server at Microsoft, said the report packs, or templates for commonly used reports, come as a result of the overwhelming success SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services has had since it launched last January -- more than 100,000 downloads.

One pack is tailored for Microsoft Exchange Server; the other for Microsoft CRM (Customer Relationship Manager application). The pack for Exchange features 13 templates, or typical reports that Ward said people managing Exchange implementations want to have.

Ward said an example would be a template that allows users to scan the e-mail activity across a company and see who has the largest inboxes. The CRM pack comes with six templates, including account details and lead summaries.

"These reports allow existing customers of Reporting Services that use Exchange and CRM to leverage these and save some development time on their end," Ward told internetnews.com.

Recognizing the multi-billion-dollar opportunity for applications that provide more insight into corporate businesses, Microsoft has begun to compete aggressively in the business intelligence space in the last year, rolling out Reporting Services and acquiring Active Views.

In related news, Ward confirmed that Reporting Services' Report Builder, the final name for the technology acquired from its purchase of Active Views, will ship with SQL Server 2005 in the first half of 2005. A self-service, ad-hoc reporting tool, Report Builder will also appear in the third beta of SQL Server 2005 when it goes live later this year.

Also, Ward said the next versions of Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) and Microsoft CRM will ship with Reporting Services, joining Visual Studio as significant application upgrades.

Lastly, Data Transformation Services, the company's extraction, transform and load technology, will be renamed SQL Server Integration Services.

Ward said the name Integration Services fits better with the company's nomenclature for business intelligence, joining Analysis Services and Reporting Services, as the third in the company's three business intelligence pillars. Integration Services, appearing in SQL Server 2005, will be discussed in greater detail at PASS.

Making business intelligence and database software easier for customers to manage isn't the only instance of simplification the SQL Server division has undertaken at Microsoft.

The company eased a developmental burden last month when it announced that WinFS, the company's vaunted next-generation file system, would be unbundled from the forthcoming Longhorn operating system.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant did this to provide the best product possible and meet deadlines prescribed for Longhorn, supposedly the concern's most ambitious OS launch to date. WinFS will now appear after the release of Longhorn in 2006.