Best of breed or integrated?

Time for some bloggin’ again! I was initially triggered to post this blog when Gartner published its Magiq Quadrant for BI 2008. I was disappointed by the position of MicroStrategy, just inside the leaders quadrant. Gartner explicitly favours vendors who adopt an integrated approach and support the entire stack of functionality. But do these platforms like SAP / Cognos or Oracle (with Hyperion) deliver upon their promise? And what should or must be the benefits of such an integrated approach?

I particularly know MicroStrategy and SAS and have seen and worked with both products. Although SAS has a broad platform with all the major BI functionalities and uses a central metadata server, I am rather disappointed by its front-end capabilities. Its core analytic functionality is strong, no doubt, but when it comes to reporting one needs to work with multiple components to get some straightforward functionality, like a look-up prompt or an outline (expand / collapse) report. Compare that to the way MicroStrategy works, a world of difference.

So what should be the advantages of an integrated platform?

  1. Costs: fewer platforms / vendor solutions are needed
  2. Integrated metadata: but what does this really mean? In SAS, for some parts it seems to imply that all the metadata objects are maintained in the same metadata server but the objects itself are less integrated. Also granularity of metadata is rather high.
  3. Lineage: trackin’and tracing your data from the source to target and vice versa
  4. Leverage: functionality may be reused for other purposes, e.g. using ETL-functionality for front-end / end-user purposes like a periodic data export or something like that.

So next question: do all these integrated platforms deliver on their promise. My impression – but I don’t know the other platforms / vendors – is that they are still a long way from true integration.

Final question: what is the optimum sourcing strategy? integrated platform or best-of-breed. I know, if market consolidation continues there isn’t much to choose, but I’m curious: what are your thoughts on this topic? Hope to hear from ya!


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Posted in BI platforms
3 comments on “Best of breed or integrated?
  1. Rob says:

    Hi Wouter,
    did you look at SAS Enterprise BI Server as well? It looks a lot stronger than Web Report Studio.

  2. Wouter says:

    Thx for the response. As far as I know, and the fact sheet on the SAS site seems to confirm it, Enterprise BI Server is simply a commercial offering that packages some of the components of the SAS Platform, including Web Report Studio and BI Dashboard. Didn’t mention the latter in my post but I’m not really impressed by this component either.

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