Kiwi firm in Microsoft business intelligence platform trial

UPDATED:  Mighty River Power has decided not to participate in the trial of Microsoft's latest version of the SQL Server.

The power company had other business priorities but remained open to participating in future activity with Microsoft, a Microsoft statement said.

BNZ was progressing as planned with the trial, the statement said.





BNZ and Mighty River Power have been selected to trial Microsoft’s newest version of the SQL Server, code named “Denali.”

The two are the only companies in New Zealand among 70 companies globally who are to trial Microsoft’s new version of its SQL Server.

The SQL Server is a database server and information platform, a business intelligence platform that organisations can use to manage, optimise and report on large amounts of company data.

Microsoft senior director of marketing responsible for the SQL Server business in the Asia Pacific region Mark Jewett said SQL Server allowed users to have better information about their company, and to discover insights about that information, which allowed for better decisions and thus greater competitiveness.

He said Denali, the latest version of SQL Server, had added several new features including Crescent, a web based tool to enable rapid data discovery with an interactive element that allowed companies to see data scenarios over time.

Mr Jewett said BNZ was chosen for its reputation, the fact that it was a sizeable organisation and the bank’s vision for using Business Intelligence to generate better results.  He said BNZ had a history with the product, using the last release to disseminate information to all of its branch operations.

“Previously that used many different tools, now that information is delivered in Excel to their branches and the feedback has been excellent, that it gives them the information they need in a tool that they know, something they can use to further analyse, so with their excellent experience and background in SQL Server already I think that also made their application very attractive.”

BNZ finance head of business intelligence Dave Thompson said Denali had a number of enhancements around high availability which provided “seamless” fail over when there was an outage, and rapid disaster recovery, key features for the bank.  He said these enhancements made things easier and faster from an administration perspective.

He said the software would allow easier administration of the database and more uptime.   BNZ would use the software for data warehousing, where data is collected and optimised for reporting, and management installation reporting, he said.  Mr Thompson said Denali would also improve performance for faster query execution.

He said this translated into productivity for the company.

“What that means is that people are running queries, or you have an overnight job, or a job during the day to run some analysis, you haven’t got people waiting around so much, so any time you can save there is really quite significant.”

Mr Thompson said staff would begin programme training on September 12, and run the programme for about three months.  After this, the bank would travel to Seattle to provide feedback, he said.

Mr Thompson said BNZ would probably use Denali for core BI applications.

“We’re going to really certainly test this thing out because there are features like performance and high availability that are of a lot of interest to us.”

He said Crescent was of interest to the bank as a front end user interface for self service, meaning BNZ’s internal users could do more self service reporting.

Mr Thompson said the bank was excited to be trialling the product and that it was a win-win partnership.

“They’re looking after customers to trial out their product, we value our relationship with Microsoft, because we are doing a lot of work on their technology.”

Mr Jewett said Microsoft chose customers that would provide “excellent” feedback and would spread the Denali word to other customers and partners.

As one of the largest companies in the New Zealand electricity industry, with over 90 percent of its energy production from sustainable and renewable sources, Mighty River Power is well positioned to get real value out of SQL Server (Denali),”

Mr Jewett said IDC had stated that SQL Server was the most popular database product on the market, shipping more units than any other database.  He said IDC had also stated that Microsoft had become number two in terms of revenue in this database market.

“The SQL Server business for us has not just been rich in innovation, it’s actually produced quite good business results.”

He said insights into company information was important because customers were dealing with an explosion in data.

“According to Gartner, information volume is growing worldwide at a minimum rate of 59% annually, with 15% of that data as structured data and the rest comprised of new complex data types. And while data is predicted to grow 44 times over the next decade the number of IT Professionals is only growing at 1.4 times.”

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