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Yukon to Get Reporting Services

The ongoing effort to expand the SQL Server database into a broader business intelligence and applications platform continues as Microsoft adds enterprise reporting services to its flagship database.

Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to include enterprise reporting functionality in the beta version of "Yukon" that will be available later this year. Yukon, the code-name for the next version of SQL Server, is expected to be generally available in late 2003 or early 2004.

"This will extend the SQL Server Business Intelligence offering. We started off with OLAP services in SQL Server 7.0. In SQL Server 2000, we added data warehousing and data mining analytical capability. We think this is the next step that customers have been asking for," says Sheryl Tullis, product manager for SQL Server at Microsoft.

Enterprise reporting allows companies to create reports on critical business information tailored to individual employees and built out of up-to-the-minute business data.

An example, says Microsoft's product manager for business intelligence Brian Biglin, would be a sales reporting application for a pharmaceutical company with 50,000 sales reps globally. "I want to generate a personalized, detailed sales history for each sales rep, yet I want it secured. With traditional BI tools, that's fairly hard to do, plus that user community doesn't want to get in ad hoc. They don't know what they're drilling for," Biglin says.

The reporting capability will be delivered as a set of services as part of the database, similar to the way Microsoft delivers OLAP and data mining capabilities in SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services. Also like Analysis Services, Microsoft will support reporting from other platforms that are OLE DB or ODBC compliant -- a selling point for the majority of organizations that don't have their business critical databases on Windows.

Much as bundling OLAP services in SQL Server 7.0 for no more than the cost of the database represented a threat to OLAP vendors, SQL Server Reporting Services could threaten vendors who sell reporting solutions. The most obvious company in that category is Crystal Decisions, formerly Seagate, with its ubiquitous enterprise reporting software, Crystal Reports, that has been bundled in dozens of products over the years.

Tullis says Microsoft officials have talked extensively with Crystal about their plans and believe the new SQL Server services and Crystal's products will be complementary. Crystal did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

Tullis says other BI vendors, including ProClarity Corp., are supportive. "We're hoping that by offering a complete, integrated package, that it's going to help a lot of partners to quickly build applications. That's good for the BI industry overall. The more people using BI, the better, and the better it is for their bottom line." Tullis.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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