Microsoft Readies PerformancePoint Server

Microsoft will take the wraps off its long-awaited PerformancePoint Server on Sept. 19, a move that's likely to expand the company's already considerable presence in the business intelligence software market.

PerformancePoint, officially Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007, is Microsoft's entry in the rapidly growing market for performance management applications used for monitoring, analyzing and planning business activities. Traditional business intelligence software vendors Business Objects and Cognos already compete in this space while Oracle and SAP, through their recent acquisitions of Hyperion Solutions and OutlookSoft, respectively, are also expanding into performance management.

PerformancePoint Server will incorporate Microsoft's current Business Scorecard Manager product and technology Microsoft picked up last year in its acquisition of ProClarity, an analytics software vendor. Last week Microsoft issued its fourth and final community technology preview (CTP) release of the product.

In an interview at last week's XChange '07 conference, Robert Deshaies, vice president of Microsoft's U.S. Partner Group, predicted that PerformancePoint Server will be a popular product for Microsoft channel partners, particularly those that sell the SQL Server database and Microsoft Dynamics applications. PerformancePoint Server will work with both of those products

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Microsoft, which builds reporting and analysis tools into SQL Server, has been grabbling a bigger piece of the business intelligence software market in recent years. The vendor's business intelligence software sales surged more than 28 percent last year to reach $480 million, according to market researcher IDC. That was enough to give it fourth place in the BI market behind Business Objects, SAS and Cognos.