MicroStrategy, the largest independent provider of Business Intelligence solutions in the world, just launched the new 9.3 version of its business intelligence solution. The update enhances the platform's Visual Insight user environment, improves to its ability to handle 'Big Data', and incorporates advanced analytics from R — an open source programming language for statistical computing.
The most important upgrades in MicroStrategy 9.3 are centered on Visual Insight, a data visualization module, intuitive and accessible to business users who aren't schooled in query languages or statistical analysis. New geospatial density maps use color coding to represent geospatial concentrations, such as customers in proximity to retail stores. Image layouts let analysts depict data in context, showing, for example, sales by region, customer traffic by department in a store, or productivity on a manufacturing production line. New network diagrams show relationships among items, such website pages visited and checkout results on an e-commerce site.
R-based computational models within standard MicroStrategy reports and dashboards
As the list of data visualization possibilities grows it can become harder for users to pick the best approach, so the Visual Insight upgrade automatically suggests the best-fit visualization option. Easing access to the latest data sources, MicroStrategy 9.3 also features a new integration to Hadoop clusters. Where the BI vendor previously integrated with the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), a new Thrift connector taps into Apache Hive, which is the Hadoop framework's data warehousing component.
Access to big data fuels interest in big data analytics, so MicroStrategy 9.3 greatly expands on the 300 analytical functions the platform already supported with new support for the more than 5,000 computations available within the R open-source statistical programming language. The R language is heavily used by data scientists who also tend to store their large-scale data sets on Hadoop. The 9.3 release lets users invoke R-based computational models and visualizations within standard MicroStrategy reports and dashboards. The upgrade supports R through use of Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML) language and through direct embedding of R algorithms as MicroStrategy analytical functions.
Self-service dashboarding and System Manager administrative console
Other upgrades in MicroStrategy 9.3 include self-service dashboarding and administrative improvements. The vendor said design improvements make it possible for business users to develop dashboards in fewer than 10 minutes without help from IT. The dashboarding module is newly flexible, according to MicroStrategy, supporting both multiple data sets and multiple data visualizations on a single page. Previously it was difficult to tap multiple data sources and apply multiple data visualizations with a single dashboard.
Automation is the theme behind upgrades to the MicroStrategy 9.3 Systems Manager administrative console. For instance, the multiple steps in system restarts, or cache flushing routines, or data warehouse loading processes can be programmed with a new administrative workflow tool. Using a new scripting language and process tool, administrators can automate any series of steps that previously had to be executed manually. The tool promises to save huge amounts of administrative time and effort, according to MicroStrategy, and it can integrated with third-party tools to monitor administrative routines.
The first step to MicroStrategy Cloud
The product was revealed at the company's MicroStrategy World conference, being held in Amsterdam, along with its Facebook-focused product Wisdom Professional. MicroStrategy 9.3 will make its first appearance as part of MicroStrategy Cloud, which bundles the BI platform, databases, and data-integration capabilities as a Web-based service, under the name MicroStrategy Cloud Express. With Express, users can build, schedule, and deliver dashboards and reports to any number of users, but subscribers pay only for the services consumed each month and they can upgrade to the Platform service level as needed.
Sources: MicroStrategy, MicroStrategy Official Blog, The Wall Street Journal, mobilemarketingmagazine.com