BI Powers Shrug Off Microsoft's Reporting Play

Microsoft partners expect the company to start testing an Office Realtime Reporting Server later this year and price the offering very aggressively. Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., declined to comment on the server, code-named Maestro.

Microsoft's moves will put price pressure on Business Objects, Cognos and MicroStrategy, which field full-functioned—and pricey—realtime reporting servers that tap not just data warehouses but also live operational data. "In enterprise realtime reporting, the cost gets to six figures easy," said an East Coast VAR. Microsoft will "blow that away," he said.

Some rivals shrugged off the threat. "Our bread and butter is in enterprise and large mid-market [companies]. End users will not start writing their own [business intelligence] dashboards," said an unnamed executive at Cognos, Ottawa.

Others disagree. "The Holy Grail has been to get ad hoc reporting into the hands of the person requesting it, not a specialist," said Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at Citigate Hudson, a solution provider in New York.

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Sources said Maestro will build on SQL Server reporting and notification services and score-carding from the Office group. The goal is to tap into back-office apps such as SAP.

Business Objects says it can prevail by linking to all data types, including Enterprise JavaBeans and Microsoft Active Data Objects.

"We're in the business of reporting live data from operational systems. If someone is going to use a product as a reporting standard across the enterprise, not all that data may be coming from a data warehouse or even a database," said Lance Walter, vice president of product marketing at Business Objects, San Jose, Calif.

For an expanded version of this story, see CRN.