Volume 11, Number 4 -- February 1, 2011

Magic to Sell MicroStrategy BI into IBM i Base

Updated: February 1, 2011

by Alex Woodie

Magic Software will offer the complete suite of MicroStrategy's business intelligence offerings as part of an alliance the two software company's announced last month. The MicroStrategy BI solution is a good fit for IBM i and JD Edwards shops because of its relatively low overhead and openness, according to Magic, which will also be helping IBM i shops build DB2/400-based data marts using its iBOLT integration tool.

MicroStrategy has not traditionally been one of the BI vendors that IBM i shops look to when contemplating the implementation of a BI solution. While the Vienna, Virginia, software company and its customers have undoubtedly tapped into IBM i data sources before, MicroStrategy, for whatever reason, just hasn't had much of a presence in the IBM midrange marketplace, especially compared to competitors like Cognos and SPSS (both owned by IBM) and Information Builders, which is a close IBM partner.

That is about to change as the result of MicroStrategy's new relationship with Magic Software, which develops native IBM i integration and development tools, and is well-known and respected in the IBM i community. Magic executive vice president Glenn Johnson says the company is excited to be selling the reporting and analytics from MicroStrategy, and expects the tools to be a good fit for many IBM i shops.

"MicroStrategy's reputation is awesome. They have the number one rankings from Gartner and a number of specialized analysts that look at business intelligence tools," Johnson says. "MicroStrategy tends to be a very efficient solution, and I think it matches well with IBM i."

Johnson referenced a recent Gartner report that found MicroStrategy customers analyze the largest amount of data, and that they have a large (but not the biggest) user base compared to customers of other enterprise-level BI offerings. And when it looked at the number of administrators required to support the BI environment, Gartner found MicroStrategy to be at the bottom of the list.

"In other words, it requires the least amount of administrative overhead to keep it running," Johnson says. "You've heard all of our pitches of our approach, to be meta-data driven and efficient in a development environment. And we felt that in terms of BI solutions, that MicroStrategy was very similar in terms of our own goal to provide excellent capabilities with minimal overhead."

Magic is offering its customers a bundle that combines its iBOLT or UniPaaS software with MicroStrategy products. The bundle includes perpetual licenses for several MicroStrategy products, including development tools and end-user reporting tools. The final per-user cost comes in around $60, which is on the aggressive side. The company can sell any product in MicroStrategy's catalog, which also includes online analytical processing (OLAP), data mining, Web-based dashboards, and mobile interfaces for the iPhone and iPad.

While MicroStrategy's tools are primarily Windows-based, they can access practically any data source, including DB2/400 via MicroStrategy connectors that support i5/OS V5R4 and IBM i 6.1. To that end, Magic plans to use iBOLT, which is typically used as a business process integration and orchestration tool, as an ETL tool of sorts, to load data marts and data warehouses on the IBM i server. The capability to keep BI-related data on the IBM i server will appeal to midrange shops that don't have skills on other databases, or who are concerned about the security of their data residing on other platforms.

Johnson says JD Edwards' customers will be primary beneficiaries of Magic's new MicroStrategy offerings. Indeed, later this month Magic will participate in iConsortium's JDE Executive Summit in Hilton Head, South Carolina, alongside MicroStrategy representatives and Lyle Ekdahl, general manager of Oracle's JD Edwards business.

Oracle sells its own BI stack and competes with MicroStrategy's OLAP software with its respected Hyperion offering. Nevertheless, the software giant is pragmatic about helping its JD Edwards shops acquire BI capabilities, and is open to working with MicroStrategy, Johnson says.

"You have to be realistic about the differences between Red Stack and Blue Stack," Johnson says. "When it comes to really building a data mart on the IBM i, how are you going to do that? How is that solution going to be positioned in the marketplace, especially when you're talking about JD Edwards World, which is exclusively on the IBM i platform?"

The IBM i server may also get a sort of reprieve from migration plans when customers make DB2/400 data available to MicroStrategy's BI tools, Johnson says. "I think having BI tools that can run in other environments is going to be advantageous to preserving the investment in IBM i," he says, "because it will mean that you can get the reports, analytics, and decision-making tools into the hands of senior management, line of business managers, and knowledge workers that otherwise might not be there in typical IBM i environments. And that will, I think, reduce the pressure to move to other platforms."

For more information on Magic and MicroStrategy offerings, visit the companies' websites at www.microstrategy.com and www.magicsoftware.com.


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