Last week (September 17-21) was quite a week for SQL Server and Microsoft business intelligence (BI) folks. Two big events happened: the 2007 Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS) Community Summit and the Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 launch.
PASS is the largest annual SQL Server community and education event in the world. The content and speaker selection and quality get better every year. The Summit includes two days of pre-conference seminars and three conference days with daily keynotes and a wide selection of breakout sessions covering four tracks: Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence, Database and Application Development, Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment, and Professional Development. For an insider look at the conference and information about upcoming trends, check out Diana May's blog "Kevin Kline Gives Highlights of the 2007 PASS Community Summit," and for in-depth coverage of general sessions and selected breakout sessions, be sure to peruse the Universal Thread's conference coverage at www.utcoverage.com/PASS/2007.
One bit of news that was announced during Thursday's general session was Dell and Microsoft's new BI offering. Dell and Microsoft are making a deliberate step toward offering a turnkey BI server similar to the "SQL Server Microwave" I wrote about in March 2006 in my commentary "Are you ready for the 'SQL Server Microwave?'" InstantDoc ID 49561. Dell worked with Microsoft to create and test reference configurations that combine a Dell hardware stack (i.e., Dell servers with Dell direct-attached storage) and a Microsoft software stack (i.e., Windows Server 2003 with SQL Server 2005 Database Services, Analysis Services, and Reporting Services) to provide a simplified low-cost, high-performance platform essentially guaranteed to work. (Learn more about the platform at Dell's SQL Server BI sub-site.) I had the opportunity to host a video interview with Dell's Andrew Hargett and Paul Rubin and Microsoft's Manish Kedia and Paul Simpson in which we discussed the new BI offering. (Look for the interview on sqlmag.com and dell.com later this month.)
Stepping a little outside of the SQL Server world, September 19 was the official launch date of PerformancePoint Server 2007 (PPS). Throughout the last year, I've been faithfully updating you on the progress of PPS through four Community Technology Previews (CTPs), and now we see its final release. If you're interested in the messaging surrounding the launch activities, see "Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 Extends Microsoft's Business Intelligence Solution." SQL Server Magazine's sister publication Windows IT Pro was in the thick of the buzz with Microsoft hosting a New York City launch event on September 20 and another in London coming up on October 16. (See "Drive Business Performance with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007" for more information about the roadshow.)
PPS is an amalgam of Business Scorecard Manager (BSM) for monitoring (scorecarding), ProClarity for analysis (ad-hoc), and a new application called PerformancePoint "Planning"--formerly code-named Biz# (pronounced "Biz Sharp")--for planning (forecasting and consolidation). Overall, PPS is a good platform but is still a version 1.0 product. The BSM component is a mature 2.0 product, but there are few ProClarity components within PPS and Microsoft will continue to ship and support ProClarity 6.3 in parallel with PPS 2007, and Planning is an entirely new product component in its first release. All together, 2007 is an important step in a solid roadmap for performance management with Microsoft.