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MicroStrategy adds more governance to analytics platform

The longtime independent vendor's latest platform update features tools to help system administrators and application developers easily add data governance and security guardrails.

The latest MicroStrategy analytics platform update zeros in on data security and governance.

Unveiled in a blog post in July, MicroStrategy 22.07 features tools designed for the system administrators, application developers and data architects within organizations responsible for building data governance frameworks and maintaining data security.

As more organizations use data to inform their decision-making -- in many cases spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic when agile decision-making was key to navigating quickly changing economic conditions -- and many others aim to enable more of their employees to work with data, data governance has grown in importance.

Good data governance guidelines, meanwhile, serve the dual purpose of keeping organizations compliant with government regulations and empowering employees to work with data without the fear of exposing sensitive data or violating regulations.

With its latest release, MicroStrategy, founded in 1989 and based in Tysons Corner, Va., is aiming to better enable the administrators, developers and architects responsible for building those frameworks that both protect their organizations and empower self-service analytics, according to David Menninger, analyst at Ventana Research.

"I see two forces at work here," he said. "First, as an industry we are still struggling to achieve self-service. Second, there is an increasing focus on governance and security. Providing tools that can be used by more people in the organization will help address both of these issues."

I see two forces at work here. First, as an industry we are still struggling to achieve self-service. Second, there is an increasing focus on governance and security. Providing tools that can be used by more people in the organization will help address both of these issues.
David MenningerAnalyst, Ventana Research

The release was unveiled shortly before Michael Saylor, co-founder and CEO since MicroStrategy's inception, revealed he will be leaving his role as of Aug. 8 to become executive chairman. Phong Le, the vendor's president, will be the new CEO.

New capabilities

While not the only new capabilities included in MicroStrategy 22.07, the analytics platform update enables administrators to do the following:

  • configure and manage job prioritization so that high-priority jobs are executed first in their organization's data warehouse, thereby improving efficiency and performance;
  • lock or unlock projects and configurations in Workstation so that they can maintain control over object definitions within those projects;
  • monitor object changes through a change journal in Workstation; and
  • create and edit FTP subscriptions.

For application developers and data architects who use Python, MicroStrategy's analytics platform update includes enhanced filtering capabilities and tweaks to streamline workflows.

The new tools for administrators, developers and architects only amount to six new capabilities, but that doesn't lessen their significance, according to Menninger.

Now that its cloud-native analytics platform is its priority, MicroStrategy no longer puts out major quarterly updates. Instead, like peers such as Microsoft with its Power BI platform, it does monthly releases in which it can package certain tools together that benefit a specific audience of users one month and a different audience of users another month.

"I think it is common for vendors with frequent releases to group certain features together and target them for a specific release," Menninger said. "That's my sense of what is going on here."

Meanwhile, MicroStrategy's July release fits in with a growing focus on governance and security throughout the analytics industry.

When analytics was the domain of a centralized team, data governance and security measures were relatively simple since only a small number of data scientists and analysts had access to their organization's data. But as the emphasis on self-service analytics has increased, and organizations recognize the importance of empowering employees to make data-informed decisions at any time without having to first go through the time-consuming process of submitting a request for a report or model, more sophisticated access restrictions are required.

And as vendors like MicroStrategy expand the capabilities of their analytics platforms beyond traditional BI -- the analysis of data -- to include data management and preparation, they too are making governance and security new focal points. In addition to MicroStrategy, Tableau's last 2021 platform update featured tools for administrators, Power BI received a security enhancement earlier in 2021, and part of Qlik's roadmap is to add more security and governance capabilities.

Additional capabilities

Beyond the capabilities aimed at system administrators, application developers and data architects -- whom CTO Tim Lang called the "unsung heroes" of analytics in the blog post introducing the MicroStrategy analytics platform update -- the latest version includes updated tools for the vendor's mobile app.

They are as follows:

  • a new MicroStrategy app for macOS and Windows;
  • MicroStrategy Library Mobile for Android and iOS to enable users to easily organize and use their data assets in their personalized libraries;
  • HyperMobile for Android and iOS to enable customers to access HyperIntelligence -- MicroStrategy's means of embedding BI -- via their devices; and
  • HyperWeb for Chrome so that users can access HyperIntelligence via the web.

In addition, MicroStrategy Cloud for Government is in its final stages before general availability later this month, according to the vendor. Once available, the platform will be a fully managed cloud service that is Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program authorized, meaning that it meets the federal government's requirements for security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.

Still missing from the MicroStrategy analytics platform, however, are tools that address scenario planning, according to Menninger.

While many vendors are taking the needed step of addressing data governance, and augmented intelligence and machine learning capabilities are becoming common, scenario planning -- examining different ways something might play out to prepare for multiple outcomes -- remains a rarity left to specialists such as Envisio, Adaptive Planning and Cube.

Among analytics vendors, Oracle, IBM and SAP offer scenario planning capabilities, and Tableau has a scenario planning tool in the works.

"Everyone has embraced AI and [natural language processing], but only a handful of vendors provide the tools organizations need to evaluate alternative scenarios," Menninger said. "As a result, organizations are given lots of information which can be used to make decisions, but they are not guided through the decision-making process."

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