Microsoft Betas 'Maestro' Business Intelligence Server

Microsoft is fielding out a private beta of a new vertical extension to the Microsoft Office System, code-named "Maestro." Maestro is an offshoot of Microsoft's Office Accelerator program focused on business intelligence, providing customers with server-based business management scorecard software.

The advertised product attributes of Maestro are that it assists customers in becoming more productive, collaborative and offers a broad view of business activities that allow customers to align daily activities with strategy.

The software monitors key performance indicators and other user-defined metrics to gauge the success of projects, and provides project managers with collaborative data analysis tools that can be used to reveal the context for business information.

By leveraging existing Office desktop applications, data may be presented to decision makers with reports, charts and graphs.

Microsoft has engineered Maestro to be interoperable with Microsoft SQL Server and Visual Studio, opening up the system for developers to customize data analysis tools and integrate with other line-of-business applications. Independent Software Severs (ISVs) may also build Maestro-based solutions.

"Maestro helps businesses turn information into action by surfacing key business data in the Office System," said Lewis Levin, corporate vice president of Office Business Applications at Microsoft.

"Maestro is a key deliverable in our strategy for BI, bridging the gap between enterprise data sources and the information workers who need to view and analyze business information as well as plan, make decisions and collaborate with others."

In a March 4, 2005 report entitled, "Market Focus: Corporate Performance Management, Worldwide, 2003-2009," Gartner estimated that corporate performance management was a $520 million market in 2003 with expectations that it will reach $900 million by 20009. Revenues are based upon new license revenue.

Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox said Microsoft partners should be wary of Maestro's intentions.

"Nutshell: The software tightens integration between Office and back-end server software, and it seeks to act as the development platform on which developers create certain types of applications. Competitors, it's time to heed those "Danger, Danger, Will Robinson," calls. Partners, you have some tough development decisions ahead that will get tougher in 2006 and 2007," said Wilcox.