Verdict: MicroStrategy is one step ahead of much of the competition, and delivers a highly configurable and quite uniquely functional BI environment. Should be on any BI shortlist.
MicroStrategy pretty well does everything when it comes to BI and analytics. Data visualization and exploration compares well with best of breed, scorecards and dashboards are feature rich and easy to use, the reporting capability is extensive and, somewhat uniquely for a BI platform, MicroStrategy supports the implementation of data mining models. This does not however mean that MicroStrategy supports the building of such models, because in the main it doesn’t. More on this in a moment.
The MicroStrategy Business Intelligence Platform is described as enterprise class, and indeed it is. It contains too many components to provide details here, but the whole architecture is shown in the diagram below.
The range of supported data sources is exhaustive and includes big data. Numerous management, development and reporting tools provide an extremely flexible environment, and delivery is via web browsers, desktop, mobile devices and through other applications such as Microsoft Office.
Scalability is guaranteed through the MicroStrategy Intelligence Server which supports asymmetric clustering, shared caching and many other features. Security is also sophisticated and robust.
Now back to support for predictive analytics and data mining. MicroStrategy has to be congratulated on its support for PMML (Predictive Model Markup Language), an industry standard for representing predictive models. It means these can be incorporated into reports, visualizations and dashboards so that scoring mechanisms can be seen. The models have to be built using PMML compliant tools, of which there are many. But this is an extra, and much needed dimension to BI and will assume more importance as data mining and predictive analytics become more widely used.
MicroStrategy offers various packages for different needs and size of organization, and it also has some useful free trials. It is very hard to fault MicroStrategy; they have been around a long time, but always seem to keep one step ahead of much of the competition – worth a look.