Last week I attended the Microsoft BI Conference. I learned about project Gemini. This project will allow analytics power users in companies to use Excel to do powerful analytics, while simultaneously allowing collaboration among all stakeholders using PerformancePoint. It allows Excel to load over 100 million rows (and about 6 columns) in just a few seconds and then create interactive pivot tables. They are still working on calculations but the demonstration was powerful. If you see Ted Kummert, Bruno Aziza, Kamal Hathi, Donald Farmer, or Amir Netz in a meeting make sure that you let them know that they are doing a great job.
Microsoft is doing a fantastic job at integrating Analysis Services, Integration Services, Reporting Services (the visualizations are robust in SQL 2008 RS), Excel Services, and PerformancePoint. This family of products are very different than SQL Server 2000. If you have followed this products for over 5 years you realize that the 2005 and 2008 products are totally different than the 2000.
A brief note about PerformancePoint and Reporting Services. For the first time I saw powerful visualizations that allow reports to be actionable. This is impressive and tells a lot about the folks working to develop these products.
Sometime ago I wrote: "If anticipation is part of journey, I can hardly wait for the sounds and tastes that will come in the next 12 months when business, technology, and science merge to produce masterpieces to help solve complex business problems." See, http://atomai.blogspot.com/2008/06/genetic-algorithm-grid-computing-and.html. Microsoft is providing the right tools for those who do analytics, to do their job in the most efficient manner.
In the Disney-PIXAR movie Ratatouille a Chef says that "anyone can cook". Microsoft is saying anyone can do analytics, and I agree. See, http://atomai.blogspot.com/2008/05/business-analytics-unleashing-power.html