At the BI Conference in Seattle, Microsoft unveiled some components of project code name Kilimanjaro, a sort of R2 release for SQL Server expected in the first half of 2010. Here’s a couple of relevant news sources:
- Doug Henschen on Intelligent Enterprise – “Microsoft Will Bow In-Memory Analysis, Appliance-Ready Database in 2010”
- Short Kilimanjaro posts on SQLBlog.com from Marco Russo and from Mosha Pasumansky
- Project Gemini notes from the SQL Server Customer Advisory Team (SQLCAT)
- Information Week story on Kilimanjaro
Here’s the part I really like: Gemini centers around Excel as its user interface.
Let’s face it: our power users live, eat and breathe Excel. They’re all over it. They know it forwards and backwards, and they pull tricks with pivot tables that make DBAs scratch their heads. My bosses have always been able to out-Excel me, and that’s been fine with me.
If Excel is going to be the future interface for self-service BI, with SQL Server as the back end, I for one welcome our new spreadsheet overlords.
Why am I embracing Excel so much? Because the cloud is coming, open source is coming, and our competitors just keep coming. The one thing none of them do well is the front end, the power user interface. None of them have anything even remotely close to a user interface as rich and powerful as Excel.
If my BI team comes in and says, “Give me one good reason we shouldn’t switch our data warehouse over from SQL Server to Oracle/cloud-based MySQL/cheap Postgres/fast-database-du-jour,” I’ve got a new cool answer: our power users love self-service BI with Excel, and nobody else is going to be able to touch that.
Are there beautiful BI front ends out there that put lipstick on Oracle, MySQL and cool new databases? Sure – but most companies are already licensing Excel on the desktop, and their users know how to use it. Cheaper, less training, less implementation time – it’s a win all the way around for SQL Server.
And you know what I like the most? It lets the SQL Server Management Studio team focus on day-to-day DBA task management and stay out of the BI power user business.