Microsoft Adds Muscle To SharePoint Server

business intelligence

PerformancePoint has been added to the SharePoint Enterprise client access license and is now available to subscribers of SharePoint Software Assurance, wrote Pej Javaheri, senior product manager for Sharepoint, in a recent blog post.

Microsoft will release a third and final service pack for PerformancePoint around midyear, after which the vendor will stop development work on the standalone offering, Javaheri wrote.

In a Q&A on Microsoft's Web site, Kurt DelBene, senior vice president of Microsoft's Office Business Platform Group, said Microsoft made the change in order to make business intelligence more accessible within organizations.

PerformancePoint uses Microsoft's SQL Server database as an underlying platform and employs Microsoft Office applications such as Excel as the user interface, and that won't change, according to DelBene. "Microsoft is removing the barriers for customers who want to deploy a complete Business Intelligence solution, leveraging their existing investments in SharePoint Server, SQL Server, and Excel," he wrote.

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Business intelligence is a useful technology for cash-strapped companies looking to maximize efficiencies, but BI solutions have been derided as too expensive and complex.

PerformancePoint was priced at $20,000 per server, plus $195 for each CAL, a level that required Microsoft to seek out large-scale deployments to keep pace with rivals such as Cognos, Business Objects and Oracle.

In addition, smaller, more nimble vendors like Tableau Software have come to market with products that reduce the complexity of business intelligence by taking information buried in databases and presenting it in a more easily digestible graphical format.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft's SharePoint partners are delighted that their chosen product, which is already enjoying massive adoption, has been given even more functionality.

"This gives us another strong selling point for SharePoint," said Tyler Roye, senior executive officer at MindSHIFT, a Fairfax, Va.-based solution provider. "This lets us more affordably assemble business intelligence metrics into a portal or dashboard, where previously we had to assemble these component by component."

"Microsoft made the right move by eliminating a separate SKU and adding more functionality to SharePoint," said Ken Winell, CEO of ExpertCollab, a SharePoint-focused solution provider in Florham Park, N.J.

Added Winell: "Many customers are looking to leverage critical business information in a more consolidated and cohesive way, and PerformancePoint dashboards are finding their way into basic SharePoint applications for management."