MicroStrategy Announces MicroStrategy 9

January 16, 2009
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McLean, VA, January 14, 2009 − MicroStrategy® Incorporated (Nasdaq: MSTR), a leading worldwide provider of business intelligence (BI) software, today introduced MicroStrategy 9™ at its annual user conference in Las Vegas.  MicroStrategy 9, the company’s most significant release in nearly a decade, is expected to be generally available in the first quarter of 2009 and will include significant new products and enhancements to its BI software platform. 

With this major release, MicroStrategy delivers new technology and features designed to: 

  • Extend enterprise BI with enhancements for greater scalability, performance, and efficiency
  • Enable rapid development and deployment of departmental BI applications
  • Provide a seamless consolidation path from departmental BI to enterprise BI

“Organizations have a mix of enterprise-grade and departmental BI applications.  Enterprise BI applications continue to advance in data scale, user scale, and analytical requirements, and MicroStrategy 9 includes new, advanced features to improve the performance, scale, and efficiency of large-scale enterprise BI applications,” said Sanju Bansal, MicroStrategy’s COO. “In addition, MicroStrategy 9 al

McLean, VA, January 14, 2009 − MicroStrategy® Incorporated (Nasdaq: MSTR), a leading worldwide provider of business intelligence (BI) software, today introduced MicroStrategy 9™ at its annual user conference in Las Vegas.  MicroStrategy 9, the company’s most significant release in nearly a decade, is expected to be generally available in the first quarter of 2009 and will include significant new products and enhancements to its BI software platform. 

With this major release, MicroStrategy delivers new technology and features designed to: 

  • Extend enterprise BI with enhancements for greater scalability, performance, and efficiency
  • Enable rapid development and deployment of departmental BI applications
  • Provide a seamless consolidation path from departmental BI to enterprise BI

“Organizations have a mix of enterprise-grade and departmental BI applications.  Enterprise BI applications continue to advance in data scale, user scale, and analytical requirements, and MicroStrategy 9 includes new, advanced features to improve the performance, scale, and efficiency of large-scale enterprise BI applications,” said Sanju Bansal, MicroStrategy’s COO. “In addition, MicroStrategy 9 also includes innovative features to enable the rapid development of departmental BI applications by business users rather than IT professionals.  To support consolidation and standardization, MicroStrategy 9 eases the migration of departmental BI application data and metadata into a unified, enterprise BI environment.”

 MicroStrategy 9 Extends Enterprise BI

Dramatically Improved Query Performance

As BI systems grow to thousands of users and hundreds of terabytes of data, maintaining fast query performance can be a tremendous challenge.  MicroStrategy 9 includes new adaptive caching technology called In-memory ROLAP and improvements in SQL generation to enhance query performance. 

In-memory ROLAP:

MicroStrategy 9 introduces a major new architectural component called “In-memory ROLAP” to dramatically improve query performance.  In-memory ROLAP takes advantage of the large addressable memory now available on 64-bit Unix, Linux, and Windows computer servers, and provides a performance-optimized middle-tier database that can respond directly to data requests from reports, dashboards, and OLAP analyses.  Since the new middle-tier database is stored in computer memory, it avoids disk access delays.  In-memory ROLAP can serve the data needed for the most complex and time-consuming queries, dramatically improving the average query response times.  In-memory ROLAP can also offload work from database servers, freeing up database capacity and allowing enterprises potentially to delay purchasing additional database capacity.

SQL Optimization:

MicroStrategy 9 introduces SQL generation algorithm optimizations for handling sophisticated analyses involving complex metrics. The new optimization algorithm can reduce the number of SQL passes by 66% and reduce database query time by as much as 75%. This new capability works transparently with reports, dashboards, and analyses, providing an immediate performance improvement to many existing MicroStrategy applications.

 

“MicroStrategy’s new In-memory ROLAP option is game changing. Unlike other in-memory approaches on the market today, it is fully integrated with an enterprise BI environment and provides high performance transparently to business users,” said Cindi Howson, Founder of BIScorecard.  “The way in which large amounts of data are stored and accessed in-memory is so seamless that I was skeptical until I saw the actual SQL generated and witnessed the performance.”

“We look forward to using MicroStrategy 9 In-memory ROLAP technology to help us improve our user experience with faster response times and to take unnecessary pressure off our Teradata system,” said Mark Govostes, Manager of BI Architecture at eBay.

Supporting Thousands of Concurrent Users

Successful BI systems often experience dramatic growth in user populations.  It is increasingly common for a single enterprise BI installation to support thousands and even tens of thousands of business users.

64-bit Web Server Support:

MicroStrategy 9 supports 64-bit Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) in both J2EE Web servers as well as ASP.net Web Servers.  The expanded memory available in 64-bit JVMs allows for far more concurrent user sessions and the running of much larger reports, all within the same server.

Extreme AJAX Code Structures for MicroStrategy Web:

In MicroStrategy 9, MicroStrategy has re-engineered its Web server to adhere to an “Extreme AJAX” model.  In Extreme AJAX, processing is shifted from the Web server to the Web browser to minimize the frequency and volume of data transfer between server and browser. These enhancements deliver a much more responsive, interactive experience for business users.  Extreme AJAX has the added benefit of offloading processing burdens from the shared Web server, freeing up capacity on Web servers so that they can support additional user sessions. 

Supporting Complex Enterprise Reporting for Customer Statement Applications

Most large companies produce vast numbers of customer statements, including invoices, notifications, and account updates.  These customer statements are often constructed using expensive and difficult-to-maintain custom-coded software or proprietary software applications. 

Multi-part Report Documents:

MicroStrategy 9 introduces a major structural enhancement to its Report Services offering that allows customers to build extremely complex enterprise reports and statements, without programming. The primary enhancement is the support for multi-part document reports, where each part can be independently developed and maintained by different developer teams and seamlessly assembled together into a report book or statement.  MicroStrategy 9 also automatically applies pagination across all report parts and automatically creates tables of contents across all parts.  Additionally, the formatting of these complex document reports has been enhanced through the inclusion of watermarks, horizontal repeating sections, dynamic images, and conditional formatting. 

Supporting Global Deployments

As companies merge and expand, there is an increased urgency for business intelligence to span all operations, across business units, across departments, and across the globe.  This expansion introduces new requirements on the BI systems to support global deployments.

Comprehensive Internationalization:

MicroStrategy 9 offers the ability to present every report, dashboard, or OLAP analysis in the local language of each business user viewing the information.  This new internationalization capability can support unlimited numbers of languages in both single-byte and double-byte (Asian) alphabets.  When a user logs on to MicroStrategy 9, the BI system will read the user’s language preferences from their browser and dynamically render reports and dashboards in their preferred language, altering the interface, the number and date formats, and the data to match the language preference.   

Supporting Distributed Development and Operation

With large enterprises, it is common to have development teams from North America, Europe, and India working on the same BI applications.  The challenge is supporting this distributed development so that the effort of coordination does not exceed the benefit of having multiple development teams.

Change Journaling:

MicroStrategy 9 introduces a range of features to support distributed development teams, including change journaling.  This capability allows changes to metadata objects to be automatically tracked and logged into a centralized system to monitor the activities of the disparate development teams.  The change journaling system also allows developers and teams to communicate with one another about their changes through a persistent commenting capability.  This level of change tracking is also crucially important for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

Update Packages:

MicroStrategy 9 allows multiple and independent development teams to coordinate the inclusion of their new developments into the global operational BI system.  This new feature is called “update packages,” and it allows each development team to independently submit updates, additions, and changes to an existing operational system.  MicroStrategy’s Object Manager system uses the new update packages to incrementally install each team’s updates and reconcile all overlaps or conflicts that might arise. 

Distributed Administration:

A new administrative capability in MicroStrategy 9 allows the subsetting of administrative duties and the distribution of administrative responsibilities to business units and departments.  This capability will allow central IT groups to relinquish routine administrative duties, such as user administration, project administration, and user security administration, to individuals within the departments or business units who can be more responsive to their business user constituencies. 

“The improved administrative features in MicroStrategy 9 should allow us to reduce significantly the time it takes to move deliverables from one environment into another,” said David Egan, Senior Group Manager at Idearc Media.  “This will help us to improve even further our Total Cost of Ownership and speed our delivery efforts.”

 

MicroStrategy 9 Enables Departmental BI

MicroStrategy 9 includes significant architectural components and features that allow it to efficiently support the specific needs of smaller-scale BI systems for departments and workgroups. 

Setting Up a New Departmental BI Environment Quickly, with Little or No IT Support

The biggest hurdle in typical BI installations is staging the data so that users can begin assembling reports and dashboards. Data staging requires significant effort and entails designing the business intelligence data model, finding the data sources, reconciling data discrepancies, and building the extract, transform, load (ETL) routines that periodically refresh the business intelligence database with the latest information.  Data staging takes time and requires engineering expertise that rarely exists within business departments or workgroups. MicroStrategy 9 includes several features that enable business departments  to quickly set up a BI environment and develop BI applications with little or no IT support.

Multi-source ROLAP:

With MicroStrategy 9, organizations can access and combine data from data marts, operational systems, and Excel spreadsheets using a new capability called “Multi-source ROLAP.”  Multi-source ROLAP eliminates the requirement to move data from multiple source databases into a purpose-built data warehouse or data mart.  Instead, Multi-source ROLAP allows companies to access the data directly from where it resides, with no special data engineering or data movement.  This radically reduces the time to set up the BI environment and lowers the technical expertise required.

In-memory ROLAP:

In-memory ROLAP includes a database that can serve data to reports, dashboards, and OLAP analyses.  Building an In-memory database requires no special set up and no data modeling.  MicroStrategy 9 automatically designs and configures the in-memory database based on the relationships between the attributes and metrics specified by the business user.  The in-memory database technology operates in the computer server’s main memory for high-speed performance, but is also stored on disk for greater permanence and offers the ability to swap in and out of memory based on usage.

Simplified Extract and Load Capability:

MicroStrategy 9 supports a simplified extract and load capability to periodically repopulate the in-memory database with the latest information from the source system databases.  Using MicroStrategy’s out-of-the-box query engines and scheduling systems, departments can schedule data extractions from relational databases, Excel workbooks, flat files, and multi-dimensional databases, including Microsoft Analysis Services and Hyperion/Oracle Essbase.  When combined with the MicroStrategy 9 Multi-source ROLAP capability, the query system can even join data across multiple relational databases and Excel to populate the in-memory database. 

Rapid Metadata Creation:

MicroStrategy 9 offers multiple features that enable the rapid creation of BI metadata.  MicroStrategy’s new “Graphical Architect” makes it possible for non-IT people to select one or more source databases, identify the tables and columns desired, load them into the BI system, and transform them into business-oriented definitions that business people can understand and use to assemble into reports and dashboards.  Graphical Architect also includes a series of smart assistants to help streamline the process, including auto-recognizing attributes and metrics and auto-recognizing the same data in multiple databases.   

Providing Business Users with Self-service Capabilities to Access Information Easily and Quickly

Rapid Report Design by Business Users:

MicroStrategy 9 offers multiple new features that make assembling reports simpler and faster, and easily within reach of business users’ skills.  These features include a simplified mechanism to browse through available dimensions, attributes, and metrics; drop zones that provide visual cues to users as to where to drag-n-drop these building blocks; and a formatting control for report formatting that is intuitive to Microsoft Office users.  With MicroStrategy 9, business users have the ability to interactively build graph-style reports with dozens of visualization options. To enhance usability, MicroStrategy 9 includes a redesigned Web user interface that adopts many familiar Microsoft paradigms, including ribbon toolbars, accordion controls, control-click multi-select capability, and context-sensitive right-click actions.

Users Can See New Combinations of Data, Without Any Report Design:

Because of its ROLAP architecture, one of MicroStrategy’s long-standing strengths is the ability of business users to freely investigate the data or “surf” through the data warehouse without having to design a new report for each new combination of data they want to see. MicroStrategy 9 now lets users perform OLAP manipulations such as pivoting and drilling directly on graphs.  Another major innovation in MicroStrategy 9 is the ability to perform OLAP manipulations directly on grids and graphs contained within dashboards. 

User-controlled Report and Dashboard Distribution:

MicroStrategy 9 gives users greater control of report and dashboard distribution with its new Distribution Services product.  Users can set up report distributions for themselves or for other users, sending reports via e-mail, networked printers, or directly to recipients’ computers or servers.  Business users are empowered to create and manage their own information subscriptions, without the intervention of a centralized IT administrator.  In addition, business users can set up their own personal alerts with data thresholds, which if exceeded, will automatically trigger an alert-based distribution to manage information flows only when the data merits attention.

Rapid Dashboard Creation:

Business users can quickly create their own dashboards using new features in MicroStrategy 9, including out-of-the-box dashboard templates, support for custom-designed templates, and support for importing dashboard design from other projects. Additionally, MicroStrategy 9 introduces a set of on-screen design assistants that help guide user design, including a smart-placement assistant that automatically sizes and aligns dashboard elements, new visual cues that help users add new analytics, new data sets, new tabs without going to menus, and a new dashboard map that helps users see all of the items on a dashboard and switch between them quickly during design. 

“We were amazed at how much information we could consolidate into one of MicroStrategy’s new dashboards,” said Prashanth Narella, Engineering Manager, Data Services at Yahoo! Inc.  “Every day, our executives rely on our information dashboards for a snapshot of our business performance.”

“Today, organizations need a business intelligence solution that can support user self-sufficiency and can respond more quickly and effectively to local business needs,” said Wayne Eckerson, Director of TDWI Research at The Data Warehousing Institute. “MicroStrategy 9 provides end users with more control over the analysis and reports they create and helps them to be more self-sufficient, require far less IT support, and quickly adapt to changing business requirements.”

 

 

MicroStrategy 9 Allows Enterprises to Seamlessly Combine Departmental Islands of BI into a Larger, Enterprise-wide BI System

Organizations have a mix of workgroup, departmental, and enterprise BI systems, and thus face the problem of having multiple ‘versions of the truth’ across these BI islands that can undermine the credibility of its BI systems.  The solution is to merge the islands of BI into a more cohesive, enterprise-wide BI system gradually and incrementally.  MicroStrategy 9 was designed specifically to enable a seamless merger of independent islands of MicroStrategy BI into a larger, more expansive enterprise BI system. 

Multi-source ROLAP:

Using Multi-source ROLAP, metadata and reports from departmental BI islands can be merged into enterprise BI metadata, while still providing access to the original data source.  This first step is simple because it does not require the movement of data from departmental data sources to the enterprise data warehouse, but it starts the process of consolidating the BI servers and metadata.  The multi-source capability allows the previously-distinct metadata definitions to be merged gradually into a single cohesive metadata.

MicroStrategy Graphical Architect:

Graphical Architect, available in MicroStrategy 9, allows companies to take the second major step in merging islands of BI by gradually moving the data from the disparate databases into fewer higher-performance data warehouses and data marts.  Graphical Architect allows companies to “re-point” the metadata to access the data at its new location, and all of the reports, dashboards, and OLAP analyses automatically will begin using the new data location, with no disruption to reports or redesign required. 

 

“Organizations need to gradually and incrementally consolidate their departmental and workgroup islands of BI into a cohesive enterprise framework that ensures a single version of the truth and low cost of operation,” said Mark Smith, CEO & EVP Research of Ventana Research. “MicroStrategy is directly addressing this challenge with MicroStrategy 9, which contains an In-memory BI and Multi-source BI capability that will make MicroStrategy’s enterprise-caliber technology equally suitable for workgroup BI and departmental BI.  MicroStrategy’s new platform includes capabilities that allow consolidation and transformation of departmental and workgroup islands of BI without having to redo reports or dashboards as consolidation takes place.” 

For more information on MicroStrategy 9, visit www.microstrategy.com/9info. Additionally, MicroStrategy is planning a series of events in more than 20 locations, featuring demonstrations and insights into the new products and platform enhancements of MicroStrategy 9. To learn more about these events, visit www.microstrategy.com/9roadshow.

About MicroStrategy

Founded in 1989, MicroStrategy is a global leader in business intelligence (BI) technology.  MicroStrategy provides integrated reporting, analysis, and monitoring software that helps leading organizations worldwide make better business decisions every day.  Companies choose MicroStrategy for its advanced technical capabilities, sophisticated analytics, and superior data and user scalability. More information about MicroStrategy (Nasdaq: MSTR) is available at www.microstrategy.com.

MicroStrategy, MicroStrategy Business Intelligence Platform, MicroStrategy 9, Pixel Perfect, and MicroStrategy Dynamic Enterprise Dashboards are either trademarks or registered trademarks of MicroStrategy Incorporated in the United States and certain other countries.  Other product and company names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.            

 

This press release may include statements that may constitute “forward-looking statements,” including estimates of future business prospects or financial results and statements containing the words “believe,” “estimate,” “project,” “expect” or similar expressions. Forward-looking statements inherently involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results of MicroStrategy Incorporated and its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Company”) to differ materially from the forward-looking statements. Factors that could contribute to such differences include: the ability of the Company to effect a timely general release of the MicroStrategy 9 software; the ability of the Company to implement and achieve widespread customer acceptance of its MicroStrategy 9 software on a timely basis; continued acceptance of the Company’s products in the marketplace; the timing of significant orders; delays in the Company’s ability to develop or ship new products; market acceptance of new products; competitive factors; general economic conditions, including significant downturns in industries, including the financial services and retail industries, in which we have a significant number of customers; currency fluctuations; and other risks detailed in the Company’s registration statements and periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. By making these forward-looking statements, the Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements for revisions or changes after the date of this release.