Microsoft's PerformancePoint Server 2007 Set To Hit The Channel

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Microsoft also will announce that the software will be priced at $20,000 per server, plus a $195 per client access license (CAL) fee. With that pricing Microsoft is aiming for broad deployments of PerformancePoint within customer organizations as it competes against performance management applications from Cognos, Business Objects and Oracle, said Alex Payne, Microsoft director of Office business applications.

Interest in PerformancePoint has been high with some 10,000 customers testing community technology preview versions of the product, Payne said. Microsoft has also trained nearly 1,000 channel partners to work with PerformancePoint. "We've seen a lot of demand for PerformancePoint before we've even announced the product," Payne said.

PerformancePoint will provide resellers with a platform for building content such as industry-specific business logic and data definitions, Payne said. Microsoft channel executives expect the product to be particularly popular among resellers of Microsoft's SQL Server database and Dynamics applications.

"It shows its value very quickly to the business buyer," said Dean Furness, director of the business intelligence national practice at Quilogy, a systems integrator and Microsoft gold partner. Quilogy is already involved in a half dozen PerformancePoint implementation pilot projects focused on business process monitoring and analysis, including the development of dashboards and key performance indicator metrics. Furness says PerformancePoint also helps demonstrate the value of Microsoft's other business intelligence technologies.

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While Microsoft is particularly targeting large companies with PerformancePoint, the software should appeal to smaller businesses as well, Payne said.

Until now Microsoft's business intelligence efforts have largely centered on the reporting and analysis capabilities built into SQL Server. That's been enough to provide the company with double-digit growth in the BI market " 25 percent in 2005 and 28 percent last year, according to IDC " placing it fourth behind Business Objects, SAS and Cognos.

PerformancePoint Server 2007 offers a range of monitoring, analysis and planning capabilities, including reporting, dashboard, and business scorecard tools. The monitoring portion of PerformancePoint incorporates Microsoft's former Business Scorecard Manager software while the analysis section includes functionality developed from data analysis and visualization technology from ProClarity, a company Microsoft acquired in April 2006. Business Scorecard Manager and ProClarity customers that have maintenance agreements will receive upgrades to PerformancePoint, according to Payne. PerformancePoint's planning, budgeting, consolidation and forecasting capabilities were developed new for the product.

Over the next six-to-12 months Microsoft will incorporate into PerformancePoint general ledger reporting tools from FRx Software, acquired by Microsoft in 2001 when it bought Great Plains Software. That will help PerformancePoint users tap into financial data from its Dynamics applications.

PerformancePoint requires Microsoft's SQL Server database as an underlying platform and uses Microsoft Office applications such as Excel as the user interface. PerformancePoint Server 2007 will support SQL Server 2005 and Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007. Windows SharePoint Services, part of Windows Server 2003, provides Web access to PerformancePoint.