In a number of talks I’ve given, including a session at last year’s Microsoft BI Conference, I’ve mentioned that if you’re not looking at partner offerings in the Microsoft Business Intelligence ecosystem, then you’re not getting the full Microsoft BI picture.
This rubs two ways:
- Microsoft BI may look misleadingly deficient, in comparison to its competitors, if partner solutions are not taken into consideration
- If you’re an MS BI user and you’re not looking at partner products, your MS BI investment will not yield the same return
There are specific reasons for this. For one, Microsoft takes an embedded approach to BI, preferring to imbue existing products (like SQL Server and SharePoint) with BI capabilities rather than having a standalone BI product portfolio. This means Microsoft BI may appear, artificially, to lack the sophistication of other BI stacks, and it makes apples-to-apples competitive analyses difficult. Another reason is that throughout the company, Microsoft’s business model is to pursue markets in a partner-led fashion. That’s more than rhetoric; just ask any of the 15,000 attendees of last week’s MS Worldwide Partner Conference.
It’s with all this in mind that I’d ask you to take a look at a commissioned review I did of SoftArtisans’ OfficeWriter product. OfficeWriter integrates Microsoft BI and Microsoft Office in ways that Microsoft itself has not attempted. Among other capabilities, it allows relational and multidimensional SQL Server Reporting Services reports to be both authored, and rendered, in Excel and in Word. Since most MS BI customers will almost certainly be Office customers as well, I think the product significantly enhances the value of investments in the combination of SQL Server and Office. And, yes, there’s a SharePoint play here too. See the review for more details.
Again, let me be perfectly clear that this review was commissioned and Blue Badge Insights was compensated for my work. But the presentation I linked to at the beginning of this post will show you that I have been looking at this product for over a year. (Click to the 49:25 time mark in the video to see/listen to the OfficeWriter discussion, and realize that this technology is only available from Software Artisans, and not Microsoft, despite my predictions otherwise.) The review is less an evaluation of the product than an explanation of its features, and an analysis of why they’re useful and important.
I have written other such reviews and will continue to do so when I encounter products that I think are of genuine use to Microsoft customers and where my review can provide helpful exposure and credibility that these products might not otherwise have.