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MicroStrategy enhances security, embedded analytics features

The vendor recently upgraded its products to the latest version of Log4j's software while also adding a new viewing experience and embedded BI capabilities to its platform.

Upgraded security measures, a new viewing experience and enhanced embedded analytics capabilities highlight the latest MicroStrategy platform update.

Tim Lang, MicroStrategy's chief technology officer, unveiled version 2021 Update 4 of the analytics vendor's platform in a blog post on Dec. 17, just after vulnerabilities were exposed in Apache Log4j on Dec. 9 and Dec. 14.

Log4j is a commonly used open source journal in which developers can log what happens in their software and applications to inform users of any potential problems. In addition to vendors such as MicroStrategy, tech giants including Amazon and Microsoft use Log4j to write event and log files.

In December, security vendor researchers discovered that Log4j was vulnerable to remote attacks, with hackers able to take control of entire systems. Log4j issued three updates in quick succession in an attempt to close the vulnerability.

In response, MicroStrategy, founded in 1989 and based in Tysons Corner, Va., upgraded all its products to version 2.16.0 of Log4j.

The upgrade was necessary, but MicroStrategy will need to continue updating its products as new Log4j vulnerabilities are exposed, according to Doug Henschen, analyst at Constellation Research.

"It's an absolute must for every software vendor to address the Log4j vulnerability," he said. "Unfortunately, this Java library is used so pervasively that customer fears cannot be allayed with just one vendor update.

"Chief security officers will have their hands full for some time diagnosing and mopping up in the aftermath of the Log4j vulnerability," he continued.

It's an absolute must for every software vendor to address the Log4j vulnerability.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

Already, Henschen added, security experts are seeing examples in which cryptocurrency miners and credential thieves, among others, infiltrated systems before the latest Log4j updates.

Platform highlights

Beyond the added security, MicroStrategy in its December update overhauled the way customers view data within the platform.

Rather than impose a one-size-fits-all viewer experience, version 2021 Update 4 of the vendor's analytics platform enables administrators to tailor the viewer experience to fit users' needs. Without using code, they're now able to design and deploy customized Library applications from Workstation, including the ability to set user permissions.

Data analysts, meanwhile, can create new dashboards in Library -- a web-based application in which users can view, present and analyze dashboards and documents -- with a new Edit Mode option in Library and return to the previously available View Mode with the click of a button. All users can more easily edit dashboards and documents in Library with "undo" and "redo" actions.

New embedded analytics capabilities in MicroStrategy 2021 Update 4, meanwhile, include enhanced controls within the vendor's Embedding SDK (software development kit).

A user's email exchange information is displayed on a HyperIntelligence for Office card.
A HyperIntelligence for Office card displays information pertinent to a user's email exchange.

Developers are now able control to whether dashboards are viewed in "consumption" or "authoring" mode, switch between the modes more easily, and control which buttons, toolbars and panels are available to users in authoring mode to set guidelines on which users can make edits.

In addition, while not part of MicroStrategy's December platform update, the vendor released a preview of its revamped Embedding SDK Playground. The new version, when the vendor makes it generally available, will enable developers to more easily embed analytics content in custom applications and websites.

"The Library upgrades are straightforward, but I wouldn't downplay the significance of the no-code experience for administrators and greater flexibility extended to analysts through the new edit mode," Henschen said. "When application development and editing tasks are easier, it makes it more likely that new apps will be developed and refined to better meet customer needs."

He added that the new embedded analytics capabilities -- as well as the Embedding SDK Playground in preview -- demonstrate that MicroStrategy is working to improve the developer experience.

The new Embedding SDK enables more control over authoring and viewing, Henschen said. Upgrades earlier in 2021 focused on controlling attribute and metric selectors, filters and panel values, he added.

"When embedding analytics, it's always important to deliver the right experience to different types of users," Henschen said.

Additional features

While enhanced security, a new viewing experience and enhanced embedded analytics capabilities are highlights of the latest MicroStrategy platform update, the new version includes numerous other features as well.

Among them are:

  • a new version of Workstation that enables administrators to better oversee their organizations' analytics operations;
  • new visualizations;
  • updated gateways to Teradata; and
  • connectors to Azure SQL Managed Instance (private Microsoft cloud), SAP BW, SAP ECC, FinancialForce, ServiceMax, Veeva, Google Cloud Spanner and Databricks.

In addition, Lang noted that MicroStrategy continues to encourage its customers to migrate to the cloud and is adding capabilities that make it easier for the vendor's customers to modernize their analytics operations.

"One of MicroStrategy's strong suits is its semantic modeling capabilities, so the upgrades for administrators and architects in Workstation will benefit customers in terms of reuse of objects," Henschen said. "That translates into efficiency. Also important are the upgrades to the cloud migration experience aimed at making the process faster and easier."

New release plans

MicroStrategy plans to host its annual user conference Feb. 1-2. For the second straight year, it will be held virtually.

Rather than unveil MicroStrategy 2022, however, Lang wrote that the vendor will continue building on its 2021 release through the end of 2024, issuing monthly and quarterly updates.

"This is a customer-friendly and cloud-centric move," Henschen said. "It gives customers visibility and a breather from platform releases. It makes it more likely that customers will upgrade to the latest version rather than holding off in anticipation of a new platform release."

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