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A Brief Guide to Microsoft Business Intelligence Ecosystem

A Brief Guide to Microsoft Business Intelligence Ecosystem

The building block of every IT system is ‘data’. Optimal and secured storage of data has always been the key concern for any organisation. The volume of data is growing every minute and it is a difficult task to manage it. This immeasurable digital data is named as big data.

The Internet, by reaching out to each and every computing platform has led to an outburst of information, thereby making big data too big to be handled. A scenario where the data grows beyond the reach of the present management techniques, will lead to total chaos.

Some of the challenges faced with big data are:

  • Managing data appropriately is a challenge for any organisation. The optimal use of data in an organised way is a priority task.
  • Accessibility and connectivity of huge data are a hurdle. Data points are not integrated and there is no precise platform to manage data between various projects.
  • The ever-growing data volume demands a larger technological landscape.
  • Security of big data is another important aspect that is of concern to companies.

The following chart explains the growth of big data in the recent years:

Big Data Stats

Fig 1. Graphical Representation of Rise of Big data

Business Intelligence – A Resourceful Solution for big data:

Business Intelligence (BI) provides a solution to big data in the form of data analysis process. BI includes a variety of tools, applications and methodologies that streamline management of huge data.

This system incorporates technologies that provide a correct decision making platform for the organisations.

Some of the important advantages of Business Intelligence solutions are:

  1. BI simplifies the process of data management, by collecting data from various sources and organising it, to create reports and for other data analysis requirements.
  2. BI accelerates the decision making process, thus enabling us to increase the productivity of internal business processes, enhancing efficiency and directing the flow of revenue.
  3. The simplicity of operation allows BI tools to be accessed by anyone from an IT professional to a business executive.
  4. BI provides data visualisation in the form of charts and other graphical methods.
  5. It simplifies advance data analysis functions like data mining, text mining, statistical analysis and predictive analysis.

Microsoft, the Leader in BI Solutions

A Business Intelligence Solution can be leveraged to its fullest, when it is able to collect data from all possible data points.

To be more specific, the solution should be able to provide all users with the required data, anytime. Microsoft has achieved this apical level by utilising the functionalities of various in-house tools.

Exhibiting exceptional competence, Microsoft has emerged as a leading name in the Business Intelligence Solutions segment.

The various formats of Business Intelligence Solutions from Microsoft are more than capable of meeting the growing expectations of the users.

The aspects that make Microsoft the leader are explained below:

Microsoft BI Development

There are various BI technologies provided by the Microsoft BI Development team. The customer can use them independently or utilise a suite of applications. This completely depends on the customer’s requirement.

A good example is Power BI for Office 365. Microsoft allows customers to build a BI system on applications like SQL Server, Sharepoint and Excel.

The complete assembly is called Power BI for Office 365. The result of grouping powerful tools has brought about a revolutionary change in managing Big data.

The various Microsoft BI technologies are:

  • MS SQL Server
  • Power BI for office
  • MS Power View
  • MS SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services)
  • MS SQL Server Analysis Services
  • MS Excel and Excel Services
  • MS SharePoint
  • MS Power BI
  • MS Power Query
  • MS SQL Server Data Tools
  • MS SQL Server Integration Services
  • MS SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel
  • MS PerformancePoint Services

Microsoft BI Stack

Microsoft BI Development has designed various BI tools and applications which the consumer can select from. The requirements of the customer are matched with a specific software tool.

Based on the requirements, Microsoft Business Intelligence can be classified into three categories vis. personal, team and organisational. All these types are interdependent and any change in one aspect can affect the other two.

As an example, an application like Performance Point server uses MS Excel, Office Sharepoint server and Excel services to complement its BI requirement. Every corporate BI system thus has dependable personal and team BI systems.

Personal BI:

It is basically related to fetching of data for individual use. Personal BI is independent and is not always connected to databases. The most commonly used personal BI is MS Excel.

Team BI:

Team BI is for a group of individuals working as a team. The system focuses on improving coordination and transfer of data amongst the team members. This helps in acceleration of the decision making process. The most well-known Team BI tool is Office SharePoint Server and Excel Services.

Corporate BI:

Corporate BI constitutes the Business Intelligence requirements at the organisational level.

It is a collection of tools to support coordination and promote goal congruence. It provides streamlined synchronisation of data and showcases individual efforts in the form of scorecards and strategy maps. The most commonly used Corporate BI is PerformancePoint Server 2007.

The graphical representation of the various levels of Microsoft BI solutions include:

 MS BI Stack

Fig 2. Graphical Representation of Various BI Frameworks

BI Containers:

The Business Intelligence Solution has two types of containers vis. the On-premises containers and Cloud containers.

On-premises containers are BI solutions that are implemented in a local setup. Examples of On-premises containers include MS office tools, Share point applications and SQL server.

The Cloud containers deal with the Internet and portable applications. Examples of Cloud containers are Excel Service Power BI and Asure IAAS solutions.

The Microsoft BI Ecosystem

The Microsoft BI Ecosystem is the environment created using various BI tools. The ecosystem supports the ever-changing needs of users

The various important aspects of Microsoft BI Ecosystem include:

Self Service:

This the most widely used feature of the Microsoft BI Ecosystem. The strength lies in its ability to reach every user.

A complete self-service BI solution is delivered through Excel and Office 365. This tool facilitates fast data search, analysis and visualisation. It helps the user in getting valuable insights from the data.

The Power BI for Office 365 allows an even more advanced level of data management. It allows easy sharing, access and integration of data using the cloud technology.

Dashboard and Reports:

Reports are one of the most important features of data analysis. The BI tool, SharePoint server provides a convenient platform for report generation and dashboard management.

Filtering of search attributes, interactive analysis and visualisation are the key features of these Microsoft BI solutions.

Analytical Solutions:

Analysis of data from various perspectives is another key feature of any important decision process. The Microsoft BI solution i.e. the SQL Server Analysis Services platform supports multi-dimensional analysis of data.

This feature can be used for visualisation, reporting and data analysis. It supports solution prototyping at the enterprise level.

Predictive Analytics:

Microsoft BI Ecosystem allows gathering of data from various sources including historical data. The data analysis is even more precise when a detailed gathering of data i.e. data mining is done.

This helps in projecting a concept more assertively. Some examples of predictive analysis can be the Data Mining Add-ins in Excel or SQL Server Development tools.

Bigger the Data, Sturdy is the Microsoft Solution

The various challenges that IT organisations faced earlier, while dealing with huge data, has found an optimal solution in form of Microsoft Business Intelligence Solutions.

The vast array of BI tools allow the users to customise the solutions as per their requirements. The previously forecasted scenario of unmanageable data at the local and cloud level can be precisely managed by Microsoft BI solution.

Being the pioneers in providing various IT solutions, Microsoft has also stood strong to lead its way towards Business Intelligence Solutions.

So when do you plan to embrace BI? Do you have any points to share? Please feel free to share your opinions below and thanks for reading!

CMS Review – Drupal Vs. SharePoint

CMS Review – Drupal Vs. SharePoint

Choosing the right content management system for your project depends on the amount of people working on your site, the size of your site and how frequently you will have to access it. There are, of course, many different options available, and in this blog post we are going to look at two different platforms to consider, Drupal and SharePoint. We will weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each CMS, and look at ways you may be able to use them to get the best out of your website.

What is a CMS?

Firstly, we’ll get back to basics and answer a simple question – what exactly is a content management system?

Essentially a content management system (CMS) allows the user to have full control over the addition of content, editing and organisation of their website through a conventional web browser. Without having to delve into code, a CMS can be entirely customisable and adapted to suit an individual or a business’ needs.

Drupal vs. Sharepoint

Before we look too deeply into a comparison between the two management systems, it would be a good idea to revisit exactly what each system offers its customers.

Released in 2001, Drupal is today considered to be one of the leading content management systems for businesses around the world. Released as an open source project, the software is available for free and comes with an unlimited licence for customisation and re-distribution. This is part of Drupal’s appeal – the ‘building blocks’ approach allows users to have flexibility when it comes to their site.

Drupal

 

 

 

Microsoft Sharepoint comes from a slightly different perspective. Originally produced and developed as a document management system, it has seen numerous development cycles and iterations to make it into the product it is today. There are many different SharePoint products available from Microsoft to enhance the content management of your website – and much of it is based around the cloud and access of a wide range of information from a wide range of devices.

SharePoint

 

 

 

How popular are Drupal and SharePoint as CMS platforms?

The graph below indicates how successful more recent iterations of Drupal have been. Of all sites running Drupal, Version 7 has 69% of the share – with sites such as Twitter and Weather.com being notable examples that highlight the scalability and size of Drupal’s strengths.

Drupal-Comp-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The matrix shown underneath from w3techs.com highlights the market position of Drupal and SharePoint as a CMS – showing that both are preferred by many high traffic sites, even though widespread adoption has not yet occurred to the extent seen by Joomla or WordPress.

Drupal_Comp_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Drupal

As well as the flexibility and ‘building blocks’ approach mentioned earlier, there are many other benefits to using Drupal for your website

  • Wide graphic design capability and possibilities – including responsive design
  • Unlimited amount of customisation between the front and back end of your site. The administrator portions of the site can be fully altered to suit your needs
  • No limits in terms of scalability
  • Intuitive content structure, minimizing the learning curve for new administrators

Benefits of SharePoint

SharePoint is an excellent way to store, share and manage a large amount of documents. It is mainly used for Intranet services and eCMS solutions.

  • Flexible and customisable document management
  • Cloud services
  • Top-down collaboration for large amounts of content
  • Best used when treated as a database rather than a ‘one size fits all’ CMS solution.

It has been argued by many developers that using Drupal and SharePoint combined will yield the best results from a CMS system – although of course as with any content management system carefully consideration will be needed to ensure you are getting the best from any platform you decide to use.

In many cases should you wish to use SharePoint exclusively as content management system for your website, significant workarounds and add ons will have to be installed. Where is does excel however is in document management and collaboration – you can easily keep track of who is creating and sharing what within your system, and it is therefore highly useful to internal systems, such as the Intranet within organisations, for example.

Summary

Choosing the right CMS can determine to a large extent how you wish to use your site, and how you wish your site to be grown and scaled in the future. Both SharePoint and Drupal have enormous benefits to the users in terms of content management – and Drupal in particular has many customisable options to benefit your site as it grows. If, however, you are looking for a CMS that provides first-class document management, for instance if you are building an Intranet site, then SharePoint is becoming an increasingly obvious choice.

If you need any help choosing your CMS, expert web developers and content management experts can point you in the right direction and in the long run save you time, money and energy migrating. If you make the right decision from stage 1, you are likely to have an excellent and long-term relationship with your CMS.