REVIEWER: Pete Miller, general manager for Cunningham Consulting.

BACKGROUND: The problem facing many corporations today is how to turn large volumes of data into meaningful information about the business and then deliver it to the enterprise in the form of "business value." Cunningham Consulting is an IT consulting firm specializing in business intelligence solutions. We partner with Fortune 50 companies to deliver business technology solutions that improve the analysis and decision-making processes, thus generating real and significant returns on the IT investment. Cunningham Consulting has successfully implemented SQL Server and Analysis Services business intelligence solutions throughout the United States at clients such as Intel, Honeywell and Bank One.

PLATFORMS: SQL Server 2000 runs on all Windows platforms, from Windows 2000 Data Center Server for the enterprise to Windows CE on a PocketPC personal device.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Companies want more than a data warehouse ­ they need access to business information. Analysis Services enables companies to quickly deliver the business intelligence and value in a cost-effective manner, which is especially important in today's economy. In addition to OLAP, Analysis Services has an integrated data mining solution that allows companies to discover hidden or non- intuitive trends and turn their data into actionable business strategies. Business decision makers in today's marketplace require timely, accurate information to make informed decisions. Analysis Services features and tools allow for quick yet comprehensive analysis across all corporate boundaries, thus enabling a truly agile enterprise.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Analysis Services includes both a full-featured, scalable OLAP engine as well as a data mining engine. Until Analysis Services, traditional business analysis required business analysts trained in statistical analysis. Time, money and resources severely limited data interpretation for nearly all business users. With an implementation of Analysis Services, a company has the ability to make much more educated decisions about its business in a more timely fashion. Companies have a view of their data through various multidimensional cubes, both real and virtual, almost immediately after the requirements are known. Companies have the ability to report "on demand," thus delivering information and value immediately to those who can really make a difference. One large financial institution will soon be replacing a nonlinear regression process that takes days of data preparation by business analysts with a SQL Server Data Mining and OLAP solution that can be completed in mere hours.

STRENGTHS: Cunningham Consulting utilizes SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services to develop and implement complex business intelligence and OLAP solutions. The main strength of Analysis Services lies in its ability to enable rapid application development resulting in a competitive advantage for our clients. Analysis Services can address the needs of very large corporations via its "scale-out" and "scale-up" scenarios. There are a large number of third- party products available to extend the core functionality provided by Analysis Services. The architecture is open and extensible, enabling IT departments to integrate custom-developed applications around SQL Server 2000 and Analysis Services.

WEAKNESSES: SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services is only available on the Windows platform. Whereas it does provide an end-to-end solution, it does not include a client presentation tool out of the box. Additionally, it cannot be
purchased as a standalone product; it must be purchased with SQL Server.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Historically, Microsoft products have always been one of the best cost-benefit propositions for organizations of any size. With this product release, lower cost is a significant selection criterion as are industry-leading performance and scalability.

DELIVERABLES: SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services delivers meaningful multidimensional business information throughout the enterprise in a timely and cost-effective manner.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Various levels of support are available directly from Microsoft. Additionally, there exist a vast number of relatively low cost technical resources from third-party companies that provide expertise in this technology.

DOCUMENTATION: All of SQL Server 2000's documentation is delivered online. It is easy to understand and has vastly improved over what was delivered with previous versions.

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