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MicroStrategy plans include SaaS version of its BI platform

MicroStrategy revealed during its user conference that a SaaS version of its platform is in the works, as are new embedded analytics and process automation capabilities.

A fully managed SaaS version of the MicroStrategy BI platform is in the works for 2021.

Speaking on Feb. 5 during the second day of MicroStrategy's virtual user conference, MicroStrategy CTO Tim Lang revealed a few details about what's on the vendor's roadmap for the remainder of the year.

A day earlier, during the opening keynote address of the conference, MicroStrategy, a long-established BI vendor based in Tysons Corner, Va., unveiled its first 2021 platform update. The new platform version focused heavily on embedded analytics with a host of new features for HyperIntelligence, a tool first introduced in 2019 that utilizes information cards as users scroll over text to give them instant insights throughout their everyday workflows.

Included was the introduction of Hyper.Now, a fully managed SaaS version of HyperIntelligence.

Later this year, a similar model for the entirety of the MicroStrategy BI platform, titled Intel.Now, will be released, though the vendor gave no timetable for its general availability.

"We believe in giving you a flexible deployment choice," Lang said. "Whether you're on web browsers, whether you're taking advantage of the desktop, whether you're on mobile devices, we want to give you the freedom to provide intelligence to all of your users whatever their form factor, whatever the time, whatever the interval."

Tim Lang, CTO of MicroStrategy
Tim Lang, CTO of MicroStrategy, speaks during the vendor's virtual user conference.

In addition to the news about Intel.Now, Lang said MicroStrategy's roadmap for the rest of 2021 includes enhanced embedded analytics capabilities and more process automation features.

He didn't reveal specific details about what new embedded analytics capabilities and automated features are in the works but noted that MicroStrategy rearchitected aspects of its platform in preparation for 2021 to enable application development and process automation.

The platform now uses containers to run its cloud-native technology and added application programming interfaces (APIs) to facilitate the development, management and scalability of new applications. In addition, new REST APIs and Python SDK help automate administrative tasks, including user management of data assets and server oversight.

The new architecture, meanwhile, will enable customers no matter where they choose to deploy their analytics, according to Doug Henschen, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Containerization, he said, not only helps MicroStrategy improve its own cloud services, but also helps customers improve their analytics operations whether they run in the cloud, on premises or a hybrid of the two.

In my view it has been the independents, such as Qlik and now MicroStrategy, that have been leading the way on hybrid and multi-cloud deployment of BI and analytics workloads using container-based technologies.
Doug HenschenPrincipal analyst, Constellation Research

"In my view it has been the independents, such as Qlik and now MicroStrategy, that have been leading the way on hybrid and multi-cloud deployment of BI and analytics workloads using container-based technologies," Henschen said.

Since Lang didn't give any specific details about what embedded BI capabilities and automated features may be added later this year, however, it's the revelation that a SaaS version of the MicroStrategy BI suite is underway that was most significant to Dave Menninger, research director of data and analytics research at Ventana Research.

"The biggest announcement in the Futures Session was the announcement of Intel.Now," he said.

SaaS versions of BI platforms are not unique -- Qlik and ThoughtSpot, for example, have each released SaaS versions in the last couple of years.

Intel.Now, however, when taken in context with the unveiling of Hyper.Now and the other new tools and features included in MicroStrategy 2021, is more evidence that MicroStrategy remains a forward-thinking BI vendor despite its relative age, having been founded in 1989.

"MicroStrategy has a competitive offering -- it's very capable and very reliable," Menninger said. "The market is also very mature, so you don't see huge differences between vendors' offerings. However, MicroStrategy has created some separation from its competitors with its innovations around HyperIntelligence."

The news that there will soon be a SaaS version of the MicroStrategy BI platform parallels one of the vendor's key messages throughout its user conference, which is that it wants its customers to move to the cloud.

During keynote addresses both Wednesday and Thursday, the vendor stressed that the cloud version of its platform is the best version, and that it will help on-premises customers migrate to the cloud by offering software, services and education for free.

In addition, Lang on Thursday highlighted that those using the cloud version of the MicroStrategy BI suite have access to the latest functionality as soon as it's available and get updates much faster than those on premises.

And Intel.Now, by virtue of being a SaaS version of the platform, is based in the cloud.

"It's a fully managed service and allows organizations to be able to deploy a system in a single click," Lang said.

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