Tuesday, April 04, 2006

ProClarity No More

This had to happen. And it did. Microsoft has announced that it is buying ProClarity (link to news article). This is supposed to fill a 'gaping hole' in Microsoft's BI tools story, viz. the absence of an adhoc query tool. There will be enough analysis and dissection of this event, so I shall limit my char paise (that would be the Indian equivalent of 2 cents) and make only a couple of points (strictly my personal opinion) :
- This confirms that there has been continuing confusion and indecision within Microsoft over the direction to take with respect to its BI Tools strategy. Does anyone remember Data Analyzer? This was something Microsoft used to pitch some 4-5 years back as a BI adhoc query tool. Then they stopped talking about it. Completely. Sometime in 2003 came the Reporting Services announcement. Microsoft realized they still did not have an adhoc tool. So they bought ActiveViews, and renamed it as "SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services Report Builder". Oh and yes, they also have something called 'Excel Add-In for SQL Server Analysis Services', that they no longer talk much about. Not to mention that Excel 2007 is supposed to have lots of BI capabilities built-in. And what about Excel services?

- Where does this leave the independent BI vendors? I had said this before that Microsoft had been deliberately not playing in the tools space as aggressively (that they had no clear positioning or articulation of strategy or half-decent product was another matter) and instead been focussing on building up its BI platform capabilities. It was content to have its partners build market and mindshare for its products and technologies like Analysis Services and XMLA. Now it is harvesting time. These BI vendors deserve a medal for having worked so hard and dilligently for Microsoft. As Murphy would say, "no good deed shall go unpunished" (link).

A poser to the BI vendors, "ab tera kya hoga kalia?" (link to Reference.com and Wikipedia for those not familiar with the Indian movie 'Sholay').