My Farewell to PerformancePoint Planning

Seventeen months after PerformancePoint Server was made available to the general public (September 2007), Microsoft has announced today (January 23, 2009) that they are discontinuing the Planning module.  The Monitoring & Analytics module will be moved to Office 14 SharePoint.  Planning will receive one more update with a Service Pack 3 release in mid-2009 and will be supported for existing customers. 

Official Microsoft Video Announcement from Guy Weismantel

On a personal note, I am truly disappointed as I have invested a great deal of time learning the Planning module.  I learned of this announcement yesterday and I spent last night reflecting over my experiences with the help of a few beers.  I have been working with the software since May 2007, four months prior to the release date.  I dove in head first and have read nearly four PerformancePoint books.  I received my PerformancePoint certification in June 2008.  I had recently begun writing a white paper on PPS Planning Data Integration using SQL Server Integration Services.  As I reflect over the past two years of my career, I remind myself that it’s not all for naught.  I’ve learned a great deal about Business Performance Management and Business Intelligence that will still apply to my career.  Through this blog, I have met some terrific people across the globe who shared the same passion and aspirations around PerformancePoint.  And for that, I am very thankful.  For those of you silent readers, I hope you have found my postings useful.  My blog will live on.  I haven’t determined the format yet, but it will surely focus on other areas of Business Intelligence and wherever my work and life experiences may take me.  You haven’t heard the last from me.

Friends and curious readers, I raise my glass, and offer a toast to new beginnings. 

I will conclude with a quote from the last line in the movie, Gladiator, as I say my farewell to Planning:

“And now we are free.  I will see you again… but not yet… Not yet!”


Update January 26, 2009:

Here are a couple links to published articles on the rise and fall of PerformancePoint Planning.


2 Responses to “My Farewell to PerformancePoint Planning”

  1. Johan Pellicaan Says:

    With a new license model for their Business Intelligence flagship PerformancePoint, Microsoft changes the Business Intelligence battleground for once and for all. Today Microsoft announced that PerformancePoint becomes a part of the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) stack.

    A step I expected. Like no other Microsoft promoted BI for the mass. Whereas SharePoint is tremendously successful, Microsoft PerformancePoint never reached the BI for the masses stage. Not all organizations who license MOSS throw their non Microsoft BI solution overboard tomorrow, but I do believe that many will consider to replace existing solutions overtime with PerformancePoint. At the same time I think there will be a huge boost in favor of Microsoft for new, to be developed solutions.”

    There is almost no other software area that changed so much in just a few years time. The BI battleground has changed dramatically over the last few years with most of the large independent vendors changing hands. Oracle bought Hyperion, SAP buying Outlooksoft; the same happened to Business Objects and let’s not forget Cognos being acquired by IBM. This is what happened “at the top” of the market. There were also many smaller acquisitions like ProClarity being bought by Microsoft. According to the OLAP Report, over 90% of the market is now in the hands of the top 5 players.

    Since the introduction of Microsoft in the BI market, the company generated a steady growth and became the largest BI player back in 2003. Although significant, not enough for Microsoft to make their wish come true: “BI for everyone”.

    Making PerformancePoint available with MOSS means that Microsoft’s BI platform comes in the hands of 30 to 40 million people (the estimated number of licenses in the market for Enterprise SharePoint) for free! This means a tremendous boost and more organizations than ever before will make a decision to use Microsoft for their BI implementation without evaluating other competitive solutions. Why would you pay for an alternative solution where you can use the Microsoft platform now for free (at least for organizations who licensed SharePoint)? The downturn is that companies, who do not have MOSS, now have to buy it if they want to use Microsoft for their BI solutions.

    How many of the 30 to 40 million SharePoint users out there today still use Cognos, Business Objects or another solution? What is the amount they pay just for the maintenance alone? It is fair to say that the average user cost 100 to 150 euro’s per year just in support and maintenance? If so, who comes up with a “Change Calculator”? If a company pays 200K per year for support and maintenance, it becomes very attractive to investigate what it will take to move the existing solutions to the Microsoft platform because they do not pay anything in addition to the SharePoint cost they already pay. Not all companies will be that eager to move straight away or completely but there will be many who will develop new projects on the Microsoft BI platform instead of expanding non-Microsoft solutions.

    There will be many winners and losers because of this Microsoft move. Among those who will benefit from the new license model are:

    End users and the organizations they work for will benefit direct if they have a SharePoint license in place. It simple means that there is less money needed for a project or they can do more with the same budget.

    The consultancy firms who work with Microsoft can benefit because they can create more for the same budget. They can also benefit because (very likely) there will be more projects because the cost of the PerformancePoint licenses are taken out of the equation.

    Independent software vendors who develop solutions on top of the Microsoft BI platform will win. Where organizations asked themselves why do I have to buy Microsoft and the solution of another vendor on top to make this work, the decision is now a lot easier because the cost for PerformancePoint are eliminated.

    The downside of the move is that some essential parts of the BI stack Microsoft are eliminated. Ask every user who used the ProClarity Desktop Professional and he or she will tell you it is one of the best clients for the BI professional business user. To discontinue this product seem to be a very bad idea according to many of the Microsoft BI partners we talked to.

    The desktop solution has been one an essential piece of the puzzle winning deals. If that functionality does not come back into Microsoft’s new BI roadmap, it opens the door for the competition to deliver BI in the Enterprise space. I am sure companies like Panorama can benefit from this move.

    To assume – as some do – that the ProClarity stack becomes a part of the “new” strategy is however not the case. The fact that Microsoft now discontinues the Desktop also means that the various ways the Desktop client has been used by many clients in the past till today, becomes a “forget it” deal now will not be appreciated. I can think of many scenarios that none of the non-desktop solutions can cover.

    The Planning part

    The change for Planning was less expected. To build and deliver good CapEx, OpEx or HR planning solutions, the need for a middle tier, importing data from multiple general ledger systems and allowing fast and reliable write back is a must. An unclear strategy will drive Microsoft customers and many prospects in the hands of competitors who do deliver and support Planning solutions.

    It will be interesting to see how the market reacts on this news. Many end-user organizations and their Microsoft partners have invested a lot to promote, evaluate and implement planning solutions based on PerformancePoint. Microsoft should continue to deliver and support the essential planning parts to allow companies to use the Microsoft platform to build their planning solutions.

    The message told to Microsoft BI partners today is that there is no future for planning (at least not at Microsoft). Although the message is not 100% clear, it only talks about existing customers being supported in-line with the Microsoft support policy. To put is simply, there is no more future development. If you decided over the last few months to invest in Microsoft Planning and now you hear there is no future development effort, I believe almost every organization who did invest, wants their money back and will look for a planning solution from Cognos, Outlooksoft, etc.
    Discontinuing an essential part of the analytics stack and the complete planning solution does not help Microsoft to become a leader in Enterprise Performance Management. A missed opportunity!

    I also did read the partner communication of today. I am amazed by the way how the discontinuation of a part of the product is handled. This could have been done some much better and way more clear. Why is the communication about the fact that a part of a product is dead so unclear?

    But in the end, the move towards SharePoint is great, the execution on the product management side and the communication was such that I can only conclude: “Microsoft, a missed opportunity on what I believe could have been a great move”

  2. Financial Planning Accelerator « Business Intelligence Easy Street Says:

    […] Planning Accelerator June 23, 2009 — ez 146 days after Microsoft announced the discontinuation of the PerformancePoint Planning module, Microsoft has made the PPS Planning source code and project files available on a no-cost, […]

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