Microsoft is working on products that will support a massive growth of enterprise data and enable more people in enterprises and smaller businesses to access that data.
The next version of SQL server, code-named Katmai, will be released next year, Microsoft announced in Seattle at its first Business Intelligence Conference. Katmai was designed to meet the coming data explosion, Microsoft said, and would enable large-scale data warehousing and information delivery through Microsoft Office.
Microsoft also said that it acquired SoftArtisans' OfficeWriter, software that allows users to author reports in Word and Excel.
"Delivering BI and performance management functionality into Office applications that millions of people use every day will go a long way toward breaking down barriers toward broader deployment," president of Microsoft's business division, Jeff Raikes, said at the conference.
That acquisition may help Microsoft achieve an ambitious goal. "Microsoft's BI solutions will bring intelligence capabilities to 10 times the number of workers and we will be able to do that because we deliver BI exactly where the information workers work every day," Raikes said.
That would be a big change from the state of the BI industry today, he said. In the traditional structure of the industry, tools to use BI requirde specialised knowledge and were complex and difficult to maintain, he said. By allowing users to access business data in programs they were familiar with like Excel, more workers in organisations could use important data in order to help drive the business, he said.
Microsoft's SharePoint and PerformancePoint servers already made it easier for more workers to access important business data, Raikes said.
More than 6000 enterprise and midmarket customers are currently using PerformancePoint Server 2007. It is scheduled to launch in the second half of the year.