SQL Server Gets Business Intelligence Enhancements
by Alex Woodie
Who in your organization sends out the most e-mail? According to Microsoft, they are likely your hardest workers. What does your sales pipeline look like right now, and which customers are in it? These are some of the questions Microsoft is hoping to provide quick answers to, through its new SQL Server Report Packs for Exchange Server and Microsoft Business Solutions CRM, which were made available last week.
Microsoft first made the SQL Server Report Packs available for SQL Server 2000 in January. Nine months later, there have been more than 100,000 downloads of the free product, which organizations can use out-of-the-box to build reports from, or use as templates for their own customized reports. The popularity of this first release convinced Microsoft that it needed to deliver additional SQL Server Report Packs for other products, the company says. The tailored reporting templates for Exchange Server and CRM will be followed by other Report Packs, Microsoft says, although it did not say what they would be.
Microsoft includes six pre-built reports with its SQL Server 2000 Report Pack for Microsoft CRM Version 1.2, including a doughnut-shaped Accounting Chart that groups revenue by various categories; an Accounting Report that groups accounting details by various categories; a Customer Account Details report; a Knowledge Base List that groups articles by subject; a Lead Summary report that shows the percentage of leads generated in various categories; and a Pipeline report that can be sorted in various ways.
There are 13 pre-built reports in the Exchange Report Pack for SQL Server 2000, including an All Mailboxes report that displays statistics covering all the users' folders; two Folder Tree Sizes reports that show which users have large folder trees, and how big they are; four Outgoing Mail reports that compare users' Sent Items box and displays the results as a table, a graph, and a bar chart, and the top 50 people who receive e-mails from the user's organization; two additional Outgoing Mail reports that examine e-mail by keywords and by who's sending the biggest e-mails; two Incoming Mail reports that show who is receiving the most e-mail and how much of it they're getting; and two Extraction Logs that show how long it's taken Exchange to extract data and store it to the database for each user and for each user's last extraction.
The new reports for Exchange can help organizations to get a better handle on their e-mail servers and even identify the hardest workers, Microsoft says. For example, the Exchange Report Pack includes three reports that show administrators who is sending the most e-mail. "Tip: The highest send the most e-mail, which often correlates to the hardest workers," Microsoft says on its report download page. The same cannot be said of those who receive the most e-mail, a metric that can be sliced and diced with two Incoming Mail reports. "Tip: The highest receive the most e-mail; they probably stress out the most," Microsoft says. (For what it's worth, the Redmond, Washington, company does not give system administrators advice on what to do about this stress.)
Microsoft also offers a SQL Server 2000 Report Pack for Financial Reporting, which includes six reports and works with a sample financial database, called FinSampleDB. The reports available with this Report Pack include a Balance Sheet; two current-month and year-to-date Income Statement reports, one with filters and one without; one Income Statement report that displays trends in certain categories; a Trial Balance report that double-checks every transaction for accuracy; and a Variance Report that compares a budget to reality.
All three Report Packs are available for download from Microsoft's Reporting Services Downloads page.
Microsoft also announced last week that a new ad hoc query tool will ship with SQL Server 2005 Beta 3. The tool, called Reporting Services Report Builder, enables users to build highly customized reports from the data in their database. The software is based on technology Microsoft acquired in April from ActiveViews, whose software was designed to help people at the lowest levels in a business (those who are as close as possible to where the outcome will be executed) to make business decisions. It's not known at this point how this increased level of responsibility will affect stress levels, especially among those who receive the most e-mail.
In other SQL Server 2005 Beta 3 news, Microsoft says SQL Server Integration Services, which was formerly called Data Transformation Services (DTS), has been enhanced with the capability for users to integrate data from any location, Microsoft says.
SQL Server 2005 is due to ship in the first half of 2005.