Microsoft Adds SQL Server Note to 2007 Drumbeat

REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft  released enhancements to SQL Server 2005 that it hopes will make it a more significant player in the business intelligence (BI) space.

The new features, which are part of the new Service Pack 2 (SP2), tie in closely with reporting capabilities in Excel and Visio that were introduced with Office 2007, and ultimately should help Microsoft sell PerformancePoint 2007 when it is rolled out later this year.

Francois Ajenstat, director of SQL Server marketing at Microsoft, said that SP2 includes data mining add-ins for the 2007 Microsoft Office system that enable data mining functionality from SQL Server Analysis Services to be used directly within Excel 2007 and Visio 2007.

Repeating the company’s mantra that customers can get more out of their line of business applications when they are presented in familiar Office productivity tools, Ajenstat told that “we’re bringing BI to where the users live.”

SQL Server 2005 now also allows users to seamlessly consume and manage reports in SharePoint Server.

“So now SharePoint can host BI info and users can access both structured and unstructured data in the same environment,” he added.

Microsoft also included enhancements to management capabilities for database administrators, such as improvements in database maintenance plans, enhanced management reports and a new copy database wizard.

In addition, Microsoft announced that it is expanding virtualization use rights to allow unlimited virtual instances on servers that are fully licensed for SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.

“Customers only pay per CPU, not per instance,” said Ajenstat.

The reason for this pricing change is that company wants not only to extend its footprint into as many organizations as possible, but to as many users within those organizations as possible.

“Our goal is BI for everyone,” noted Ajenstat.

But in order to accomplish this goal, the economics of traditional BI implementations have to change.

“You can’t have BI for everyone if its costs $10,000 per seat,” he said.

This development can’t be especially welcome news to traditional BI vendors like Hyperion , Cognos  and MicroStrategy .

Business Objects , which also competes in this space, announced its own strategy for delivering “BI to everyone” earlier this month.

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