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Microsoft to Acquire ProClarity 79

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the changing-hands dept.
Gosalia writes "In order to increase its presence in the business intelligence market, Microsoft announced its plan to acquire business analytics software developer ProClarity. 'This acquisition advances our (business intelligence) strategy and our ability to deliver performance management applications to customers,' Jeff Raikes, Microsoft business division president, said in a statement."
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Microsoft to Acquire ProClarity

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  • by jimmyhat3939 (931746) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:29PM (#15054829) Homepage
    Aside from the obvious comments I know people will make ("Microsoft business intelligence??!?! That's an oxymoron .... OMG PONY!"), I think this is a great deal.

    I've thought for some time that Ajax couldn't/doesn't provide all the answers for how to collaborate on various office documents and workflows. While I think there's a place for stuff like Writely, I really believe that 10 years from now most businesses will still be using MS Office or something like it. So, this acquisition will provide those companies with a realistic way to collaborate aon stuff and increase their per-worker productivity.

    There are a whole bunch of benefits from this, including making it more possible for people to telecommute, etc. But to me the best part of this news is that it demonstrates that Microsoft is plowing ahead, in the face of all the FUD and vaporware that's being shot out all over the place about Ajax and web-based technologies. Maybe someday the web will get there, but not soon. Not soon.

    • making it more possible for people to telecommute, etc.

      I used to like that idea, until my friend's job got offshored.
           
    • There are a whole bunch of benefits from this, including making it more possible for people to telecommute, etc.

      Huh? Are you responding to the right article? This is an enormously boring acquisition of a boring analytics company that makes boring scorecard type products for executives, alike to many similar products in a burgeoning marketplace. I mean, if you're an executive looking for scorecard software, it's mildly interesting that Microsoft might eventually integrate it to supplant its own, but otherwis
  • by Chordonblue (585047) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:34PM (#15054848) Journal
    At least the Borg are honest:

    'This acquisition advances our (business intelligence) strategy and our ability to deliver performance management applications to customers,' Jeff Raikes, Microsoft business division president, said in a statement.

    Translates to: 'And.. Oh yeah, I'm going to be filthy rich!'

  • by peektwice (726616) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:35PM (#15054859)
    have some software that some manager will want to buy because of its colorful view graphs that supposedly helps them make business decisions quicker and easier.

    In reality, most management types don't understand analytics at all, and when one of their math-geeks does, they are often overlooked as geek-speak.

    My feeling is that this is a swipe at Siebel/Oracle/SAP/whoever so Microsoft can add a feather to their cap and say that they are relevant in the enterprise space because they have a one-size-fits-all BI solution.

    I could be wrong, but I'm not.
    • one-size-fits-all BI solution.
      I think I saw one of those in an adult novelty shop. Looked uncomfortable....
    • by Jason Earl (1894) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:43PM (#15054900) Homepage Journal

      Microsoft is simply looking for a way to use its cash hoards to generate some growth. That's what businesses do. Microsoft has billions of dollars sitting around in low interest accounts. It's looking for some growth opportunities.

      The real story is what this does to Microsoft's current business "partners." There really aren't technology niches that aren't threatened by Microsoft. I know I certainly wouldn't be interested in building my business on Microsoft's technology. Sure, someone gets rich when Microsoft enters a market as they invariably buy someone. However, everyone else gets crushed. Competing with Microsoft is ridiculously hard under the best of circumstances, but it is impossible when you have to purchase Microsoft technology to use your own product.

      • "The real story is what this does to Microsoft's current business "partners." There really aren't technology niches that aren't threatened by Microsoft. I know I certainly wouldn't be interested in building my business on Microsoft's technology. Sure, someone gets rich when Microsoft enters a market as they invariably buy someone. However, everyone else gets crushed. Competing with Microsoft is ridiculously hard under the best of circumstances, but it is impossible when you have to purchase Microsoft techno
        • What about OSS? Doesn't OSS crush everyone else since it's impossible to compete with "free"?

          Nothing is free. I make a living customizing Free Software based software, and it's basically never free. There's no question that Free Software lowers the total cost of software, but the total cost is still not zero. This is especially true if you haven't spent the last ten years learning how to deploy Free Software :). Heck, that's why Microsoft software still gets installed in a lot of places. Depending on

    • My feeling is that this is a swipe at Siebel/Oracle/SAP/whoever

      This is more of a threat to "the big three" of BusinessObjects, Cognos and Hyperion. ProClarity is in the low end of the scale of BI vendors, but in a lot of instances that's a pretty good place to be.

      Implementing good BI solutions is pretty darn hard, and comparable in effort, cost and possible benefits to implementing SAP. That means that it can be a life saver for a company, but more often it's a huge burden after a failed implementation.

    • No kidding, that's the answer I got when I informed one of our higher-up managers that there's a flaw in his statistics (I got a degree in the art of jumbling those numbers, so yes, I do know what I'm talking about).

      That doesn't matter. "It looks pretty" is all that matters. To most beancounters, statistics is just the means to the end of promoting their pet idea, not something useful for decision finding. Or even something to base a decision on.
    • My feeling is that this is a swipe at Siebel/Oracle/SAP/whoever so Microsoft can add a feather to their cap and say that they are relevant in the enterprise space because they have a one-size-fits-all BI solution.
      OMG, We're entering the BI-age.
  • but (Score:2, Funny)

    will it come with Clippy the dancing enterprise resource planner paperclip, or Fido the inventory managing wonderdog?

    seriously though, i'd be interested in seeing how they take an incredibly complex app domain (in general) and try to fit it into a typical microsoft interface template, where things like selectively averaging columns in Excel is non-trivial...

    • I am sincerely hoping we'll see an end to above jokes when Office 2007 kills off Clippy... yeah right.
  • Good acquisition (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TechnoGuyRob (926031) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:41PM (#15054892) Homepage
    Microsoft has been experiencing a lot of disorganization recently. With the qualification of some machines as un-Vista capable [slashdot.org], it's delay of Vista until January 2007 [itnews.com.au], popular technology experts' Opinions [stltoday.com] that "America isn't ready for Microsoft's Vista", and all kinds of project delays (Media Center, XBox, etc.) they are in need of some clear visual indication as to the direction they must take. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

    I find this statement from an InformationWeek article [informationweek.com] to clear up what ProClarity exactly does: "ProClarity makes analysis and visualization software." Much of this software is in very popular demand now; a friend of mine just started a job at a company called SSS, which makes visualization software for modeling all kinds of information and displaying it in a manner that is very informative and interactive. Google released something similar [google.com], Google Analytics, for websites, and it has been a huge success (heck, Slashdot uses it).

    Overall, I think this is a very smart move on Microsoft's part. Software for organizing information can be very useful. It's also nice to see some Microsoft articles on Slashdot for a change (even though I'm not a big fan of Microsoft), rather than the usual Googlomination.
    • Re:Good acquisition (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Google Analytics has nothing to do with this software. Despite the fancy "analytics" term, its really nothing more than a slick version of WebTrends that feeds data back to Google's servers.
    • ...very smart move on Microsoft's part. Software for organizing information can be very useful.

      They're supposed to be a software company, not a marketing company however it proves that Microsoft can't write 1 line of code that provides any value.
      They can't write it so buy it.
      Their in house programmers are so tainted with bad blood that the talented ones can't write anymore.

      For a quick show of hands, how many paople see Microsoft as a software company? Anyone? Bueller?
      How many people see Microsoft as a mar
      • Visual Studio 2005. SQL 2005. The .NET framework. All fantastic products, all developed in-house. I agree with you on some products, but it's flat out wrong to say that nothing well-made ever comes out of Microsoft.
      • Microsoft can't write 1 line of code that provides any value.

        Patently false. Excel is the best piece of software ever written for the mass market. And as others noted, SQL Server 2K/2K5 both are good as well.

        • Re:Good acquisition (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ucklak (755284)
          I'll give you Excel but keep in mind that Excel was one of Microsoft's first applications written well before the corruption.

          MSSQL was acquired throuth a partnership with Sybase and Ashton-Tate and the codebase was written by Sybase and Ashton-Tate, not Microsoft.
          • I'll give you Excel but keep in mind that Excel was one of Microsoft's first applications written well before the corruption.

            Well, Excel was one in a long line of ripoffs of VisiCalc and was nothing special in the beginning. It didn't become really good until somwhere around Office97, and it's the last few versions that are outstanding.

            With MS, there is no such thing as "before the corruption". They used to be a company that delivered crappy products, but some 12 years ago they started massive usability

        • I should add that Excel was written when Microsoft was 'hungry' and I believe that even Mr. Gates has a few lines he contributed.
          The rest of the Office suite was acquired or absorbed.

          I remember Powerpoint before MS acquired it (brings back some younger day memories).
  • by TheUncleD (940548) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:47PM (#15054921)
    Usually a buyout like this would send people the message to immediately raise their expectations about the future performance of the business products. ProClarity has worked with Microsoft as a partner up until now to help them optimize SQL Server. Now we have to wonder how integral the ProClarity division will become and how likely they'll be the new target of internal blame when the intelligence just doesn't stack up. ProClarity claims that their business intelligence software and solutions are used for decision support, data mining, balanced scorecards, and reporting from multiple data sources. It would be interesting to know just what scoring devices they'll be using for Microsoft's up and coming products. Gold Star: It didn't crash until I opened a second copy Silver: It was backwards compatable almost 30% of files from the previous version. Bronze Star: Autosave worked great right after autodelete worked great! Participants Award: Good thing they were only beta-testers...
  • Sometimes you just have to wonder if Microsoft actually invents anything on their own these days. Their own flagship products, Windows, Office, and Visual Studio have been in maintenance now for how long?
    • Sometimes you just have to wonder if GM actually invents anything on their own these days. Their own flagship products, cars and trucks have been in maintenance now for how long? 80 years?

      Suggesting that the changes to the Office suit is just "maintenance" seems a bit disingenious. Much like cars today are much better than cars from 30 years ago, Office and Visual Studio have improved tremendously. (For Windows the results are less impressive, especially considering the resources they have spent.)

  • by daddyrief (910385) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:08PM (#15055004) Homepage
    'This acquisition advances our (buyout) strategy, and allows us to innovate quickly by bypassing the brainstorming and invention phases.'
  • Microsoft's recent spate of acquiring large-scale business software vendors seems vaguely familiar....

    Oh yeah, that it what Larry Ellison is doing too. Except he started sooner.

    sPh
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:27PM (#15055080)
    This acquisition is ridiculous. Proclarity was a beatch partner of MSFT for the duration, doing whatever MSFT wanted, and operating as an extension of MSFT already. So what does MSFT gain by having them in the package? Really it's about too much hype about analytics in MS-Office, and not enough stuffing. So MSFT, typical of MSFT, goes shopping at the last minute to beef things up.

    They did the same thing right before the SQL 2005 launch in order to beef up their ability to have end-users create reports - but it was a total flop because MSFT is awful at integrating this stuff.

    The reality is that they need to show lots of pretty stuff in the launch of MS-Office or else nobody will upgrade to it (again) and life will be poopy for the reporting people there.

    The only happy people are the perclerity people, who always wanted to have a Borg injection!
    • Are you calling SQL Reporting Services a flop? If so, I'd like to introduce you to some of my clients who love it, and have happily dumped Crystal and are enjoying eaily rolled out reports with a good front end for ad-hoc reporting.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The biggest problem MS faces is the fact that they don't have any solution to support the SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services. Oh sorry I forgot, the half cooked BSM or internally called Maestro, what a joke. MS has been lementing on this issue for years and was going back and forth between ProClarity and Panorama. Now Panorama is officially screwed... MS has had tons of problem implementing Panorama... So it's no surprise that they went with ProClarity... But they still have at least 3 different initiative
    • But they still have at least 3 different initiative that I know of that provide similar functionality at different scales...

      Actually, for BI solutions different scales almost certainly requires different products. This is also true for accounting, where SAP is not an option for a company with 30 employees, but that company's accounting system of choice isn't an option for a Fortune 100 company either.

      That said, MS has a pretty bad track record here, so I'm not too convinced they will deliver well in any

  • I always wonder what the turnover is from these aquisitions. My experience with them is that the people who made the product strong usually leave at the time or not long after its aquired. Is Microsoft aquiring people here, or a codebase?

    • They are aquiring ego. They are reaching a critical mass, where physicists are undecided if the ego will go nova or continue to gain mass until the entire worlds supply of ego is sucked in.
  • ProClarity? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Farmer Tim (530755) <roundfileNO@SPAMmindless.com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:29PM (#15055092) Journal
    If Microsoft were to aquire some ordinary home-grade clarity, that would be enough for me.
  • Offtopic, but ProClarity is one of the dumbest company names I've ever heard of. It sounds like an acne treatment.
  • Twice in this thread, including the OP, posters have written "it's" when they meant to write "its". "It's" is a contraction for "it is". "Its" is a possessive.

    Here's the dictionary [reference.com] article that outlines how to use the two.
    • Good luck, when the editors of the site are the least literate. Especially the ones who brag about what great editors they are!
      • This is very true... and the person who points out such blatant illiteracy generally becomes the target of insults from said illiterates. It's a shame these so-called computer gurus lack even basic grammar skills. Imagine if they were inputting coordinates into some targeting system... "I must have gotten some digits wrong... no big deal... you're an asshole for pointing my typo out!"
  • by seven of five (578993) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:48PM (#15055157) Homepage
    (goons with pocket protectors move in, rough up 'acquisition prospect').
    Bill Gates leaves, sniggering "checks? I didn't get rich writing checks!"

    hmp.... I wonder why they don't show this one anymore....
  • I work for a BI consulting firm and this is, I think, a good move for Microsoft. I think Proclarity's product will eventually merge with SQL Server 2005 and probably will be distributed as a bundle just as the reporting or analysis (OLAP) components of SQL Server. This will probably provide better front end tools to Microsoft's offering right now which is very limited.

    This really is a threat to other BI vendors like Cognos or Business Objects, and probably to the other front ends to SQL Server Analysis Serv
  • Smart Move (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbowen (943330) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:15PM (#15055281) Homepage
    This is actually a fairly smart move by Microsoft as much as it is an admission that they don't understand the space or the customer base. Not that they care - now that they have a more or less complete front-end and lovely middle tier, their technology is end to end now. ProClarity has smart people who understand MDX better than just about anybody in the industry. MDX is the multidimensional equivalent of SQL and it handles things like cross-tabs (to be non-technical about it) very nicely. In fact when I last checked a couple years ago (I'm certified, thank you) they were the only people in the industry who had built a competent MDX code generator. Their developers have scoped out a complete API for the product and I have little doubt that the whole thing will fit very nicely into the .NETframework. This means that .NET geeks will have no obstacles to building integrated analyic products into anything with an MSSQL back-end. This is something a small tech company with all the smarts cannot market by itself, but that Microsoft can definitely market. The ProClarity suite of products has many more features than the average MSSQL customer uses and will enable people with lightweight ( 3 years) experience in the BI space to build relatively competant applications. So as an entre into your generic IT shop, they've got a headstart. But it also is plenty extensible. I wouldn't be surprised if a bulked up ProClarity group within MSFT didn't start building analytics into Great Plains under the Microsoft Dynamics label. It shouldn't take long for MS to integrate ProClarity into its product offering. All the hard stuff is already built. This is a slap in the face of Panorama Software, the Israeli company that helped usher in 'Plato' some of the original technology behind MSAS - MS' multidimensional server now embedded with MSSQL. It's also something of a slap to the interal people behind Microsoft Reporting Services, which although not very good for high-end apps is a good me-too against Business Objects, Cognos and Hyperion on the low end. It's reasonable to say, generically, that anybody who wants to run static format reports is a low-end analytical application anyway. Nobody expects much more who buys MSSQL anyway. What's most interesting to me is whether or not ProClarity will continue to support MDX for Hyperion Essbase, the industry standard server for MDX on Linux & Unix boxes. Its got Yukon beat for scalability and does fabulous things on 64bit hardware. But as usual, the difficulty is getting people who understand high end BI to build with the pure technologies when so much of analytics is marketed in packages aimed at BPM and CRM etc. The last time I checked the ProClarity folks were very impressed with Essbase' Java API and how smoothly they were able to build. IE it worked the first time and did what it was supposed to do. The new MDX book out covers the differences between Essbase and MSAS, let's see how closely to the standards MSFT will remain. Microsoft really had to do this since Hyperion has already released their System 9 integrated platform 6 months ago. Oracle just recently made their announcement within the past week, and I suspect that MSFT is announcing their strategy to make this another tentacle in their .NET multiverse. This puts a great deal of pressure on Microstrategy, Business Objects and Cognos who are selling middle tiers and front-ends but don't own their own database technologies, but you never know, SAP might try something and Informatica is something of a wild card in this. IBM? Well they have the technology but who knows if they really care? All in all this is a good way to seed future Yukon buyers with stuff that Microstrategy used to get away with. Since all the Yukon buyers are going to wait anyway, piling on some of the ProClarity stuff won't hurt MS.
  • From the Slashdot Summary (OMG! Emphasis mine!):

    This acquisition advances our (business intelligence) strategy and our ability to deliver performance management applications to customers,' Jeff Raikes, Microsoft business division president, said in a statement."

    Man oh man, gotta love that business-speak!

    All of a sudden the April 1 "OMG!" theme is sounding a whole lot more intelligent.

  • ProClarity ran out of printer paper earlier today as hundreds of employees hurdled their bearclaws and lattes with newly printed copies of their resumes. Uproarious laughter and golf stories were heard in the offices equipped with doors as pink slips were signed, along with bonus checks and option sell orders. Meanwhile the phones were clogged with exit interview schedules and preliminary arguments with collection agencies.

    In other news, the last intact family north of Arizona filed for divorce early toda
  • What the hell is "business intelligence"?

    The submitter mentions it twice in two sentences, and I still don't know what it means. Seems to be an expensive Google adword though...

    Seriously though, this is all buzzword bingo for the Pointy-Haird Boss, right?

    Jesus, that's a hell of a bingo prize.

    • What the hell is "business intelligence"?

      It used to be called "reporting", but now it is actually possible to get it work in a way that adds value to real companies. Please note "possible", though. For every successful implementation there are as usual dozens of failed ones.

      But the meaing and defnition is pretty widely accepted and agreed upon, and in common use. It shouldn't make anyone's top 50 list of stupid business jargon anymore.

      • Okay, so they took a simple word with meaning and made it a couple words that mean nothing...

        Tell me again why it shouldn't make anyone's top 50 list of stupid business jargon?

        But kudos to the data mining folks. Their products have lottery-grade ROI, and it's still a growing business.

        • Tell me again why it shouldn't make anyone's top 50 list of stupid business jargon?

          Because, contrary to the saying, on that list it's not so lonely at the top. It's pretty darn crowded.

          On a more serious note, BI isn't exactly "reporting", it's "reporting on an enterprise scale" (except for the fact that "enterprise" really is a word that deserves to be on that top 50 list).

  • by slavemowgli (585321) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @07:03AM (#15056706) Homepage
    "business intelligence"... is that the new euphemism for "corporate espionage"?
  • There are other "application stack" vendors that need a BI solution too. IBM has lots of BI parts, but not really a BI solution. SAP has a data warehouse that is almost enterprise ready, but its BI functions are weak. Oracle has chosen to run with Siebel analytics for a while. Microsoft has made their choice. Second tier software vendors, like HP/BEA, Sun/Seebeyond, Tibco, and WebMethods still need better BI. The BI vendors choices those in need include Business Objects, Cognos, Microstrategy, and may

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