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    « Vault 107 | Main | There Is No Cat »

    January 26, 2009

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    anon

    Microsoft's new BI motto: "Uncommited BI"

    Cobb

    I try not to laugh out loud when they say that they enable the 'People Ready' enterprise.

    anon

    Some good points but I have no idea what your opinion actually is?

    "First of all, PPS was a decent product" or "PPS was the crappiest product I've ever had to work with"?

    And just clarify PPS performed just fine if you knew what you were doing

    Cobb

    I thought I made a convincing case that PPS performance compared disfavorably with BI products from a generation ago. 12 second response time for 600 cells is the kind of drilldown performance I could get in the days before Windows 95. Furthermore, nobody knew how to do capacity planning for PPS. If I were to tell you that I wanted PPS to handle 50 concurrent users against my GL, how much hardware should I buy, you'd only get a fuzzy answer. That's because nobody had seen PPS work on that scale.

    If you compare PPS to other products it competes against in the enterprise space, it's crappy. If you have simple requirements or are in the SMB space, it's decent. The problem was that Microsoft expected it to compete in the enterprise space. That means that you'd have implementation teams with only one or two years' experience on PPS side with a version one product competing with implementation teams with 8 or 9 years' experience on a version 9 product.

    So I had teams of people with 10 or more years experience in Data Warehousing on projects tell me how much they disliked working with the product. I could look at what it took two people a couple weeks to do in PPS that I could do single-handedly in Essbase in a day or two. If I remember correctly, PPS could not handle ragged hierarchies or measures dimensions with more than a couple thousand members. I think to be fair I should do some of those close up comparisons, but since the product has no future there's not much point in it. Smart customers will move away.

    One of the biggest problems with PPS is that it had no facility for migration between environments. We had a customer where this took several days to accomplish and it didn't work the first time. So we had to call in a second expert consultant, whose time was split between multiple other customers, and it took that person a week or so to fix the mess and do it right. As these things happened we learned the hard way that now we should schedule two weeks for cutovers with 1.5 bodies. That's an example of PPS being more expensive to develop than the competition which has migration facilities built in. You'd ask Microsoft if they would add migration support into the product and you'd get a fuzzy answer.

    Now this is not a problem for a small business that is only thinking about building one or two applications. But for an enterprise platform, it could easily be a deal killer. But you wouldn't even have this kind of discussion and insight with a Microsoft sales guy because they don't get that deep into implementation questions - there were no channels to get that information back to sales. With mature products in the BI space, total cost of ownership questions are part of the sales pitch and have been for years.

    Probably the most frustrating thing about PPS was the way that it 'handled' business rules. Without going into much detail, there were no shortcuts. This meant that for certain types of data models you would have to split the application into multiple pieces with different sets of business rules working on different parts of the PPS schemas independently. When there were dependencies between them, it made design and implementation a real nightmare.

    A simple example would be if you had a metric like profit per employee on a quarter by quarter basis. Everybody in BI knows that headcount aggregates differently than profit. You would have to handle the business rules for those two sorts of aggregations in separate runs instead of one. So if you wanted that metric on the same report as other metrics you would have to worry about precedence and manage that manually and also look at all of the edge conditions etc... a real pain.

    PPS performed just fine if you knew what you were doing. But what everyone in the PPS world knows is small compared to what everyone in the Cognos, Business Objects, Oracle and Outlooksoft world knows. And it will remain that way. If your business requirements are simple, and you actually like Sharepoint, save your money and go with PPS. If you want to compete with the big boys in EPM, forget Microsoft.

    Oh yeah. UNIX.

    my2cents

    I think PPS planning was built to me more generic flexible and powerful and initial release has some perf issues but they have significantly improved performance and migration issues in SP1 and SP2 releases and performance is not a issue now.
    I think V1 was released in hurry because of long delays.

    Microsoft hoped that partners will develop the integration and migrations modules but none implemented. Some good graphical integration and migration modules might have made the difference.

    Many company’s has issues implementing with the initial release because there was no good knowledgebase and trained consultants and best practice implementation guidelines, but SP1 and SP2 had solved lot of issues and are surprised now.

    I think the product rightly belongs to dynamics team but Forecaster is a toy compared to PPS planning which is a powerful enterprise tool, I think Forecaster which is a legacy tool should be replaced by PPS planning.

    I think V2 of the product with minor updates would have been on par with competitors(Cognos/Hyperion) and more powerful.

    Cameron Lackpour

    Wow, I thought I had worked with some turkeys -- you unfortunately won the prize for Most Irritating Product implementation.

    It really is a question of vendor commitment and perseverance. Remember the disaster that was Planning 1.x? I remember taking the 1.5 training class and thinking “How could they release this?” It wasn’t a really decent product until 3.3x. It’s not half bad now. :)

    Regards,

    Cameron Lackpour

    Cobb

    Yes. I remember getting seriously burned by scalability issues in Planning 2.x. It was, unfortunately, one of the biggest planned Planning implementations in the Hyperion world at the time. But I will say this - we had the ability to get engineers working on patches for customers and reprioritization of development and release schedules. We were able to get Hyperion management involved in escalation and modify delivery frameworks, even though it wasn't Hyperion consulting that was the prime consulting contractor. That's the difference a commitment to a product makes for an enterprise customer.

    Joe Horton

    I convinced our state agency to go with PP and Proclarity. We paid their choice vendor quite a bit of money to come from Seattle and train about 12 people on site.

    We did manage to get out some fairly decent dashboards and reports but it is so lacking in basic things. No decent control for legends, we documented some 30 serious defects that was supposedly "passed on" to Microsoft and got no feedback.

    I feel really burned by this. It wasn't even two months ago they had big BI presentation still pushing this product.

    All I do is Data Warehouse BI implementations - believe me I will be looking always to the other vendors and recommending to my clients and bosses, despite being neighbors to Microsoft.

    Doug Moran

    Pentaho open source BI won over PPS Guru and author Ron Barrett http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/39219 He found it easy to switch "It was simple to go from Performance Point to Pentaho and I was comfortable with it in minutes"

    Frank Mustari

    "disfavorably"?....ain't no such animal.

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