Monday, November 02, 2009

Azure – It’s Not Big and it’s Not Clever

I’ve played with Azure and yes it does what it’s supposed to but coming from a business intelligence background I’m struggling to see what kind of advantage my area of focus will gain. I would love to see huge databases accessible in the cloud attached to huge cubes that use huge ROLAP partitions to run huge queries but until that time comes along I’m going to sit on a huge fence, watch and wait.

One project I’m working on has dimensions with over 50 million members in. Due to the business and the way it works a Process Update has to be performed every night. Lots of attribute hierarchies and lots of members means lots of time taken to complete. Throwing more hardware at it makes this faster but

what happens when the cost of the infrastructure exceeds the value they receive from their analysis. This client will look at how they can reduce costs elsewhere whether it be licensing (open source perhaps) or the platform (Amazon EC2 perhaps) neither of which are going to help Microsoft.

When I first saw that the Azure platform was changing from it’s early form into what I considered a natural progression of the SQL Server platform from Express to Enterprise to Azure I was pretty positive. This coupled with Analysis Services could mean smaller companies that produce a lot of data could get top class analytics without having to break the bank with massive hardware expense. But I haven’t seen anything that makes me feel confident that this will happen. Perhaps the Azure OLAP platform will be huge 128bit version of Excel with PowerPivot (don’t get me started) who knows, someone should at least.

Azure, PowerPivot, Reporting Services, Performance Point, ProClarity, MDM. In my opinion all of these things should be part of a single cohesive strategy to allow users to access data in a simple way whilst ensuring organisations can maintain a level of data governance and I’m just not seeing it. Why do I have to still tell a client that they need to use this tool because that’s the one you can change the line colours in but you’ll need to use the other tool for pie charts and oh you want it integrated into your Portal then you’ll need this one instead. It’s scatter gun, not particularly professional and very worrying.

I’m seeing this from a very focused view but from my experience a real world view and I just can’t see Azure fitting in to it at the moment. I would love to have my mind changed so please do.

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