MicroStrategy vs.

A Comparison White Paper by MicroStrategy

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MicroStrategy vs. Cognos

I. Executive Summary ......................................................................................................................... 5 II. MicroStrategy – A Market Proven, Industrial-Strength Technology ............................................ 6 MicroStrategy 8 Overview .................................................................................................................. 6 Why Companies Choose MicroStrategy? ........................................................................................... 7 III. Comparison of MicroStrategy and Cognos on Key BI Requirements ..........................................7 IV. Critical Questions to Ask When Evaluating MicroStrategy and Cognos ................................... 12

I. Executive Summary
In the business intelligence marketplace, MicroStrategy competes vigorously with vendors such as Cognos. At first glance, both MicroStrategy 8 and Cognos 8 can be used to report on and analyze corporate data, providing business insight to organizations. However, once customers implement these business intelligence (BI) solutions, they recognize critical differences derived from the architecture and paradigms of these very different technologies. Key architectural differences affect the variety of report types, the breadth and depth of analysis, as well as the cost required to maintain the BI application. The architectural differences result in disparities in performance, scalability, usability, efficiency and reliability of the system; all of which impact user adoption and ultimately, the success of the BI project. Ironically, as user and business requirements have become more complex, IT budgets have come under increasing pressure. Business intelligence applications must now be developed, deployed and maintained with the minimum of IT resources, while serving more users across the global organization. Clearly, the BI architecture can be either a liability or an asset to IT departments. A technologically superior architecture will meet all the needs of the end user, while minimizing the amount of IT maintenance and administration. An inferior architecture will require redundant and repetitive administration, and the constant development of one-off workarounds. MicroStrategy technology is based on a completely relational object-oriented metadata model that insulates the BI application from changes in the data and business environment. This centralized and reusable metadata is selfmaintaining and adapts real-time to changes in user requirements, data schemas and business logic. In MicroStrategy, report developers don’t need to duplicate metadata definitions across hundreds of reports as they do in Cognos. This duplication increases the cost of ownership and change management of the BI application. With MicroStrategy, IT departments have an industrial-strength administration infrastructure on which they can rely to maintain their BI applications with ever increasing economies of scale. Securing corporate data is a top priority in today’s enterprise BI applications. Drug prescription records, human resources records, cell phone call records and financial transactions are just a few types of sensitive data. The security requirements become even more urgent when information is distributed via extranets or when users drill from the high-level performance reports to detailed transaction information, anywhere in the data warehouse. MicroStrategy provides airtight security with 128-bit end-to-end encryption and cell level protection applied automatically across all reports and all data. Cognos does not provide the same level of security out of the box and relies on third party components to offer comparable protection. Cognos has pursued a product strategy based on technology acquisitions which can be directly correlated with its lower levels of customer loyalty1. Conversely, MicroStrategy has concentrated on a single product architecture that spans reporting, ad-hoc query, analysis, proactive notification, scorecards and dashboards under the same user interface and metadata, thus ensuring a single “version of the truth.” Cognos 8 is still comprised of many different architectures and interfaces. In Cognos, users will need Query Studio for ad-hoc query, Analysis Studio for OLAP,

Report Studio for managed reports, Metrics Studio for scorecards and Event Studio for proactive alerts. A greater number of different architectures means more maintenance effort for IT. A greater number of user interfaces means more training for end users, elevating the total cost of ownership of the business intelligence application.


The OLAP Survey 6- Author: Nigel Pendse http://www.survey.com/olap/ 

For over a decade, MicroStrategy customers have built thousands of mission critical BI applications with MicroStrategy technology. With an administration-friendly architecture, robust security, a self-service zero-footprint Web interface, and proven user and data scalability, MicroStrategy 8 is the only business intelligence vendor to obtain the highest technology score from the leading industry analyst firm’s Vendor Ratings. The most respected independent survey in the industry, The OLAP Survey 61, stated that MicroStrategy surpassed Cognos in delivering higher business value and better technical support resulting in the highest customer loyalty ratings across any BI vendor. This document discusses in detail the important characteristics of the MicroStrategy 8 architecture, the key differences between MicroStrategy 8 and Cognos 8, and the critical questions that should be asked when evaluating Cognos and MicroStrategy. Conclusions are rooted in publicly available documents and not subject to individual interpretation.

II. MicroStrategy – A Market Proven, Industrial-Strength Technology
The MicroStrategy architecture is the result of 4 years of development and 5 years of subsequent refinement, driven by the needs of the most demanding BI applications in the world. MicroStrategy is an industrial-strength BI technology, uniquely capable of serving BI application requirements characterized by the largest scale, most sophisticated analytics, highest report volumes, and most users. This caliber of BI technology is now being sought after by companies, not just for their most demanding BI applications, but for the purpose of hosting all of their BI applications – standardizing all BI onto a single, highly-functional and economical architecture and reaping significant economies of scale and enterprise-wide consistency. Unlike BI Suites and BI Series offered by other vendors, MicroStrategy offers the only organically grown BI architecture. All of the MicroStrategy 8 components were expressly built to work within a unified architecture and not as separate standalone products or acquired technologies that were subsequently joined together. MicroStrategy 8 overview Launched in 2005, MicroStrategy 8 offers the latest in technical innovations with over 2,000 enhancements across the platform. One of the key differentiators of MicroStrategy 8 is its integrated BI platform, eliminating the need for companies to use numerous distinct technologies from different vendors for reporting, analysis, and performance monitoring. MicroStrategy 8 provides a BI platform that companies can standardize on for all their BI needs. With a scalable architecture and a single metadata, users can seamlessly navigate from scorecards and dashboards

to reports and analysis without being required to open and close multiple BI tools and navigate dissimilar interfaces. MicroStrategy 8’s newly designed Web interface is specifically tailored for the business user. The user interface includes an array of “one-click” actions with familiar paradigms to make business users more productive. For the first time, users can format reports and scorecards in WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) mode and leverage the formatting skills they already have to radically reduce the time it takes to develop and deploy new reports. 

why coMpanieS chooSe MicroStrategy? 1. integrated architecture: The MicroStrategy product set is built from a single architectural foundation, delivering all 5 Styles of BI: Scorecards and Dashboards; Reporting; OLAP; Advanced Analysis; Alerts and Proactive Notification. 2. Full featured web interface: MicroStrategy’s Web interface delivers a Windows-like feeling with drag-and-drop interactivity from any Web browser. The advanced Web architecture is “zero-footprint”, using no Java or Active X controls, and delivers a rich reporting experience both inside and outside the firewall. 3. Seamless integration of reporting, analysis, and monitoring: MicroStrategy can embed OLAP features directly into enterprise reports like scorecards and dashboards, providing a seamless user experience that uncovers root causes without the need for programming or switching interfaces. 4. ease-of-use and self-service: MicroStrategy’s unique WYSIWYG report design and editing allows MicroStrategy end users to easily design and refine reports over the Web using familiar skills similar to Microsoft® PowerPoint or Excel. 5. high performance scaling to thousands of users: Unlike other BI providers, MicroStrategy software expands with the application to efficiently scale from hundreds to thousands of people. 6. proven data scalability: For the past five years, The OLAP Surveys have ranked MicroStrategy highest in data scalability. With terabyte-size databases commonplace, MicroStrategy’s field-proven technology enables customers to deploy more BI applications with greater analytic sophistication and user functionality. 7. automated report maintainability: Dynamic metadata architecture ensures that changes ripple throughout all reports automatically. 8. pervasive security and user administration: Security is automatically applied to all users, reports, and data through role-based user administration. 9. engineered on a single code base: MicroStrategy is widely recognized for its meticulously engineered software based on a single code base, scaling to organizations and applications of all sizes; leveraging any hardware, operating system, and data source infrastructure while making BI more approachable for the average business user.

III. Comparison of MicroStrategy and Cognos On Key BI Requirements
Business intelligence has the power to provide performance feedback and visibility to all people in an organization, enabling businesses to make thousands of better decisions every day. However, not all BI technologies deliver on this promise, falling short on a number of key requirements demanded of enterprise BI applications. The following

table outlines the overarching and important criteria by which all modern BI technologies need to be assessed, and provides a side-by-side evaluation of MicroStrategy 8 and Cognos 8 along these requirements. 

KEY BI REQUIREMENT Dynamic enterprise Dashboards • Dashboards Integrated with Industrial-Strength BI Platform • Full power of ROLAP analysis • Single design environment • Infinitely Extensible Visualization • Advanced Visualization Flash Libraries • Native parallel Flash and DHTML visualizations • On-Dashboard interactivity • WYSIWYG Design Paradigm yeS



MicroStrategy’s Dynamic Enterprise Dashboards fully leverage the MicroStrategy 8 platform. Dashboards are created using reports and objects from MicroStrategy’s single metadata. Intelligence Server provides its sophisticated processing, security, caching and analytical capabilities. Users design dashboards from MicroStrategy’s single web interface using the already familiar design paradigm. Dashboards are created in a zero-footprint web interface, pixel perfect and freeform layout. Dashboard Designers create highly interactive dashboards and can render them in DHTML, Flash, PDF or Microsoft Office products.

Today, Cognos has two separate dashboarding products: Cognos 8 BI and Cognos Now!, the former Celequest company. Cognos 8 BI dashboards provide limited interactivity and do not offer support for Flash. Cognos Now! Offers limited Flash support; however it is not integrated with the Cognos 8 platform at the metadata and server level. Cognos 8 dashboards do not support pixel perfect positioning. Users cannot edit dashboards while viewing the information in a WYSIWYG way. Users are often required to switch from the Report Studio interface to Report Viewer. Cognos 8 BI does not support advanced visualizations like heat maps and animations, useful for the viewing and identifying outliers in large volumes of data.

Unified Bi architecture • Seamless integration of analytics and reporting for root cause analysis • Single code base across platforms • Single Web Interface • Single metadata

yeS MicroStrategy’s unified architecture provides a seamless integration of analytics and reporting from a single web interface. MicroStrategy is a single code base that is truly platform independent. A single shared metadata consisting of all reports and underlying reporting objects ensures one version of the truth. A unified web interface means a common reporting and analysis paradigm for all users.

no Cognos 8 is Cognos’ first attempt to integrate all the legacy of stand-alone products on the same metadata. Although Cognos did a reasonable job at the metadata level for a version 1 release, there are still products like Metrics Studio which have a separate metrics repository and PowerPlay Cubes that require their own definition of metrics through Transformer. Cognos’ recent acquisitions, Celequest and Applix, represent stand alone platforms without clear plans for integration with Cognos 8. Cognos 8 has five different products called Studios. These Studios contain overlapping functionality requiring users to learn different paradigms. This lowers user adoption rates and increases IT support costs.

Market proven enterprise Scalability and performance • 64-bit BI processing • Minimal re-query of the database • Multi-layer caching technology • Customer references for large user and data scalability production deployments • Aggregate awareness • Multi-pass SQL • Distributed processing with the relational database • Minimize network traffic

yeS The MicroStrategy platform is designed for enterprise scalability. MicroStrategy’s ROLAP and multi-pass SQL approach leverages the latest innovations from database technology. It efficiently processes large volumes of transaction level data in the database, minimizing network traffic. Data is automatically cached at multiple levels to reduce redundant computations and network traffic. The MicroStrategy SQL engine’s aggregate awareness can dynamically determine the most efficient table in every analysis. 64-bit processing allows MicroStrategy to support much greater numbers of users and data sizes while improving performance.

no Cognos 8 provides very limited support for inter-user report caching, inter-report dataset caching and element list caching. Reports are often re-run unnecessarily when users perform drill-thru actions. This increases CPU utilization, network traffic and database processing, hurting the performance of the BI application and elevating the cost of ownership. Cognos’ incomplete SQL engine lacks automatic aggregate awareness which hurts data scalability. Cognos cannot fully leverage your 64-bit hardware investments and more money needs to be spent on hardware boxes to support the equivalent number of users and data volumes as MicroStrategy. Bad performance and scalability are the main reasons why MicroStrategy has replaced Cognos in many accounts.


KEY BI REQUIREMENT reusable and rich Metadata Layer • Robust abstraction layer (where all physical constructs can be modeled logically and hidden from business user) • Highly reusable metadata • Automatic change management • Object oriented metadata yeS



MicroStrategy’s object-oriented metadata defines an enterprise’s business layer in a single repository. The metadata objects can be nested as building blocks to create more complex objects. If a metadata object changes, every other metadata object dependent on it automatically changes. This ensures consistency across business definitions and minimizes the number of objects to maintain. MicroStrategy assembles all metadata objects necessary for a report and dynamically builds the report SQL at runtime. It does not store a finished report as a static SQL statement.

In Cognos 8, report designers using Report Studio cannot create report objects e.g., metrics, filters, prompts, custom groups and then reuse these objects across different reports. Report developers cannot reuse their newly created metrics, filters or prompts as building blocks to create more advanced metrics. Cognos’ metadata maps one-to-one to the physical database on what is called a Cognos Query Item. Report developers select Query Items to include in a report. If an attribute like ‘Region’ happens to be in two database tables, report developers are forced to choose between two ‘Region’ Query Items, potentially resulting in two versions of the truth. no Cognos 8 end users, Consumer and Recipient roles, get a very static view of the reports. Interaction with the report is limited to few actions e.g., end users cannot sort by a column, cannot change the format of the report, and cannot pivot the columns and rows. Cognos Report Studio provides relative positioning but very limited pixel-level absolute positioning of report objects over the report layout. Pixel-level positioning is necessary for designer productivity and to obtain boardroom quality reports. Report Studio designers must use Internet Explorer – due to Cognos 8’s dependency on ActiveX. no Cognos does not have 128-bit end-to-end encryption out of the box. This is particularly important for any extranet deployment. In order to get higher encryption, an expensive additional third party component needs to be integrated into the Cognos 8 application. Cognos security must be manually configured in several distinct technologies e.g., Transformer, Framework Manager and Cognos Connection. This requirement to manage security in multiple technologies increases the chances of human error and maintenance effort. LiMiteD Cognos 8 offers limited options for parameterized reports. Object prompts such as selection of attributes, metrics, and filters on the fly are not supported. Report personalization is accomplished by bringing all possible data to the report and hiding columns with extensive formatting logic on each report.

interactive wySiwyg web interface • Fully interactive reporting, completely zero-footprint over the Web from any browser • WYSIWYG document design and editing over the Web • Self-service • Easy to learn, familiar windows on the Web paradigm

yeS Business users create highly formatted reports, using a zero-footprint WYSIWYG design paradigm that drastically shortens the report development time. End users are able to create, manipulate and format information through a single Web interface. Changes are available right away without any need to “publish” or “export” information to other environments. MicroStrategy achieves drag-and-drop interactivity without relying on ActiveX, so report designers can use any browser.

industrial Strength Multi-level Security • 128-bit encryption - extranet ready • Integrate with any security infrastructure with single sign-on • Same report yields different views of the information based on user profiles • Truly zero-footprint. No use or download of ActiveX and other plug-ins • Cell level security Dynamic report personalization • Comprehensive parameter and question prompting • Security profiles personalize report content for individual users • Report bursting

yeS MicroStrategy provides centralized security administration across reporting, analysis and delivery. User profiles and privileges ensure users only access the appropriate information and functionality. Security filters provide the right access down to the cell level. MicroStrategy supports 128-bit end-to-end encryption with a zero-footprint Web client making it a secure platform behind the firewall. MicroStrategy integrates with existing security authentication infrastructure such as LDAP, NT, and databases. yeS In MicroStrategy, a single report can automatically support hundreds of possible data combinations tailored to different user needs. Advanced report parameters, like object and hierarchy prompts, allow users to pick any business attributes and KPIs to include in the report. A single report definition can burst personalized information to thousands of users. 


KEY BI REQUIREMENT centralized enterprise administration • Self-tuning scalable server for maximum performance • Usage monitoring / auditing • Controlled environment for analysis • Version management / migration • Single management console • Automated regression testing process • Automated full impact analysis yeS



MicroStrategy’s centralized administration provides a single console for real-time user and system management. MicroStrategy Enterprise Manager provides hundreds of KPIs and corresponding dashboards to perform impact analysis, auditing and tuning of the BI application. MicroStrategy Object Manager facilitates metadata life cycle management, metadata dependencies and project management. MicroStrategy Integrity Manager automates the report comparison process and verifies the consistency of reports. This tool can detect, compare, and present inconsistencies in reports and data caused by changes in the BI ecosystem. Integrity Manager alerts the system administrator of changes in a report. It also automatically highlights the differences in the numeric values, SQL, or display. yeS The MicroStrategy SQL Engine’s ability to dynamically generate multi-pass SQL allows users to ask complex business questions such as market basket and set analysis e.g., view sales for the current year for all customers who purchased product ‘x’ last year. Users can drill anywhere in the entire data warehouse for a boundary-free speed-of-thought investigative analysis. MicroStrategy’s Data Mining Services leverages definitions from all major third-party data mining vendors, providing predictive analytics to thousands of users. MicroStrategy’s Analytical Engine provides hundreds of built-in financial, statistical, and mathematical functions. The SQL Engine and the Analytical Engine work collaboratively to ensure that processing is performed efficiently on the optimal tier.

Cognos security must be defined in a minimum of two places: Framework Manager and Cognos Connection. There are limited auditing capabilities and there are very limited tools to aid on usage, metadata management, automated script creation and impact analysis. Administrators can easily break metadata integrity by erasing a filter or other metadata objects used inside a report as there is no integrity tool check before removing an object.

Flexible and powerful oLap analysis • Direct access to SAP® BW for reporting and analysis, Hyperion Essbase, and Microsoft Analysis Services • Operational database reporting with freeform SQL

LiMiteD Cognos Analysis Studio provides only a single metric view at one time. In order to analyze many metrics users must switch to a different product called Query Studio. Unlike MicroStrategy, Cognos requires two different products to perform similar ad-hoc and OLAP tasks: Query Studio and Analysis Studio. Cognos’ SQL engine lacks automatic aggregate awareness, hurting data scalability. Cognos recommends using MOLAP sources instead. There are no formatting options in Analysis Studio and users must move their reports to a different product called Report Studio to do formatting. There is no parameterized (prompted) reporting within Analysis Studio. Cognos 8 does not have drill anywhere capabilities across reports. All drill paths across cubes and across reports have to be manually defined by IT or report developers. yeS Cognos’ Microsoft Office plug-ins offer limited prompting functionality. For example, Cognos’ Microsoft Office plug-in does not support the ability to prompt on the set of metrics and attributes to incorporate in the report, also referred as column prompts. Cognos’ Office plug-in does not offer Dynamic Dashboard technology (Flash) that could provide embedded visualizations and a more interactive experience.

Seamless Microsoft office integration MICROSTRATEGY: BEST IN BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE • All Office products supported (Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Outlook) • Leverage all BI reports and reporting objects • Full new report creation • Persistent and interchangeable formatting across Office and Web

yeS MicroStrategy delivers the complete reporting and analysis environment to Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook users. MicroStrategy Office applications are linked to MicroStrategy security and administration, ensuring 100% data consistency across the enterprise. Users are able to access existing reports or create new ones from within Microsoft Office applications. Changes are immediately reflected across MicroStrategy Office and Web interfaces. Microsoft Office formatting changes are preserved after automatic data updates.


KEY BI REQUIREMENT heterogeneous Data Source access from a Single web Document • Direct access to SAP® BW for reporting and analysis, Hyperion Essbase, and Microsoft Analysis Services • Operational database reporting with freeform SQL yeS



MicroStrategy allows a single document to present data pulled directly from multiple data sources. MicroStrategy’s Operational SQL Engine can generate reports from data residing in any operational database across the organization. MicroStrategy can directly query SAP BW InfoCubes and QueryCubes.

Cognos 8 provides heterogeneous access to relational and MOLAP sources. However, it strongly encourages customers to buy a 3rd party plug-in from Composite Software to eliminate the cumbersome performance issues that exist in Cognos’ native heterogeneous data source implementation. Cognos’ implementation of SAP BW is limited mostly to Query Cubes and does not provide efficient access to InfoCubes and InfoSources. It has very limited capability to handle queries with structures and SAP BW variables. LiMiteD Cognos Report Studio does not offer report designers a way to edit and format the report layout while viewing it, for a real-time WYSIWYG view of their changes. This increases the design time due to unnecessary iterations and design frustration. Cognos users cannot continue analyzing a report in Analysis Studio once it has been formatted in Report Studio. They are limited to exporting the information to Microsoft Excel for further analysis, promoting silos of information throughout the enterprise and different versions of the truth. Cognos Report Studio is not optimized for operational, hierarchical or banded reporting.

robust enterprise reporting • Support for wide range of report styles • Pixel-level absolute positioning • In-place analysis • Desktop publishing formatting • High quality printing • Export to Excel

yeS MicroStrategy’s Web Interface is designed to maximize business user and report designer productivity. Highly formatted documents are built using common desktop publishing paradigms such as rulers and pixel-level positioning, all over a zero-footprint Web. MicroStrategy offers comprehensive report styles from banded reports to dashboards and scorecards. These documents are highly interactive providing in-place analysis, pivoting, drilling and Excel-like formatting toolbars.

information Delivery and proactive notification • Wide range of output types: Web, print, fax, wireless • Alerting and Thresholds • Dashboards and Scorecards • Portals integration • Fully interactive reports and dashboards accessed from mobile devices

yeS Users receive personalized alerts triggered by dynamic events and time scheduled reports, via portal, print, e-mail, wireless or file servers.

yeS Cognos 8 now offers Event Studio which is a separate interface that deals with Alerts and Event management.

MicroStrategy Mobile actively governs memory and bandwidth usage to ensure harmonious operations with other critical BlackBerry applications.



However, Cognos 8 has very limited dynamic MicroStrategy’s platform leverages distribution list capabilities. Therefore, highly scalable technology that slices a Administrators have to define fixed single report and dynamically distributes distribution lists and cannot use conditions to personalized information to the right users. dynamically conform the recipient list. Reusing a single report across hundreds of Cognos Go! Mobile allows users to run users saves processing resources. Users can reports from mobile devices. However, report easily assemble scorecards and dashboards interactivity on the mobile device is limited, based on existing objects and integrating with no ability to re-order columns, sort several data sources, without the need of columns, or quickly view report slices via an extra application or interface. page-by attributes. Cognos Go! Mobile also MicroStrategy Mobile allows users to does not support tabbed viewing of multiple run reports and dashboards directly on reports, limiting users’ ability to quickly their BlackBerry® smartphones. Reports navigate from report to report with one click. are cached directly on the BlackBerry for fast, offline viewing. Reports are fully interactive; data can be sliced and sorted; columns can be locked and resized for effective comparisons of metrics. MicroStrategy Mobile accesses the same reports and dashboards used by all other MicroStrategy user interfaces, ensuring a single version of the truth.

IV. Critical Questions to Ask when Evaluating MicroStrategy and Cognos
There is a fundamental difference between the software architectures of Cognos and MicroStrategy. Cognos has a legacy of multiple products with non-integrated architectures which haunts them even to the most recent Cognos 8 release. In comparison, MicroStrategy’s code base was completely rewritten over the course of 4 years as a unified server-centric architecture. MicroStrategy has been building its platform organically and keeping the utmost integrity and efficiency. This basic difference allows MicroStrategy customers to benefit from: • A greater range of functionality through a single Web interface and unified architecture which decreases training and maintenance costs. • A productive WYSIWYG edit environment which can be used across any Web browser. • A market proven user and data scalability with more efficient use of network and server resources. • Greater analytical breadth, including predictive analytics. • A market tested and bullet-proof security infrastructure. • Lower total cost of ownership by lowering IS support and maintenance requirements. The following questions elicit these basic MicroStrategy strengths with some very specific comparisons that should be made when evaluating Cognos and MicroStrategy. 1. MicroStrategy 8 utilizes a multi-level caching architecture. MicroStrategy achieves high inter-user and inter-report caching rates that allow maximum utilization of the it resources, resulting in the lowest cost per report. Does cognos 8 provide a similar enterprise caching architecture? MicroStrategy provides a comprehensive caching architecture that has been built and improved over the years. With the MicroStrategy platform, caching is synchronized across clustered machines. All users can access the portion of the cache for which they have permissions. Permissions are determined after applying security filters, privileges and access control lists. With MicroStrategy, the cache is automatically refreshed whenever any underlying report object or data changes. This is critical in maintaining a “single version of the truth.” MicroStrategy’s multi-level caching architecture offers the following caching levels for maximum reusability: • r eport dataset caching allows quick access to full and intermediate result sets, enabling inter-user and inter report caching. • Metadata object caching allows the reuse of attributes, metrics, hierarchies and other report objects. This greatly improves the response time during report creation and manipulation.

• Lookup table element caching provides great reusability for prompt values. For example, a hierarchically sorted list of a thousand product categories or SKU items can be cached, eliminating expensive queries to the database. • XML definition caching delivers different report presentations from the same XML cache without the need of querying the database again. The XML cache is also used for incrementally fetching data on-demand through the report pages or for increasing the performance of system-to-system data transmission via web services. • ntelligent cubes enable quick user manipulations such as slicing and dicing, pivoting, subtotaling, banding, i sorting, drilling and adding new derived metrics. This enhances the usability of the system and speeds up the investigative process. MicroStrategy 8 uses one or more datasets as data sources for the documents. These datasets are cached immediately when they are first used. As a result, any other report that uses the same dataset immediately benefits from this cache. Performance and throughput are improved significantly for subsequent reports.

MicroStrategy 8 prompted reports can display hundreds of options e.g., SKU item pick list, where this list can be cached for future use in any similar prompted report. Cognos 8 provides limited caching mechanisms to allow inter-user and inter-report caching, essentially only providing reusable HTML caching that users have to explicitly publish and request. Users cannot automatically reuse the report results requested by a previous user. This means Cognos 8 will have to generate and re-run the same SQL every time a user requests the same report, putting a tremendous strain on database and network resources. Cognos 8 prompted reports need to generate the pick list by running a query to the database every time the report is run, dramatically increasing the users’ wait for the prompt questions. To put this in perspective, let’s consider a hypothetical enterprise reporting application with 100 different reports and 5,000 users running an average of 10 reports per day. This hypothetical application will produce a total of 5,000 x 10 = 50,000 reports per day. Cognos 8 will execute 50,000 reports against the database, while MicroStrategy will only execute a maximum of 100 reports, as the remaining reports will be retrieved from the data cache. MicroStrategy’s advanced caching architecture will perform 500 times fewer roundtrips to the database, consuming less network and database resources. 2. MicroStrategy’s 64-bit native platform takes advantage of customers’ investments in the latest 64-bit hardware and operating systems. can cognos 8 leverage 64-bit hardware and operating systems? MicroStrategy‘s 64-bit platform is compiled natively to leverage the address memory space benefits from 64-bit operating systems and microprocessors. Cognos 8 is compiled in 32-bit native mode even if it is running on 64-bit operating systems which results in Cognos not being able to leverage the benefits of 64-bit environments and customers’ 64-bit hardware investments. 3. MicroStrategy supports aggregate tables which optimize the performance of the oLap and reporting application. MicroStrategy’s engine is automatically “aggregate aware” so it selects the most efficient table to retrieve the data. is cognos 8 automatically “aggregate aware”? MicroStrategy supports a wide variety of data schemas, from the common star schema to sophisticated snowflake with split-fact schemas. Using these schemas, the data is modeled following an object oriented paradigm where, e.g., “Region” is an object or attribute that defines a geographical characteristic of the data. In this case “Region,” regardless of the number of instances it is found across the tables in the data warehouse, will be recognized by the MicroStrategy SQL engine as the same object. This logical abstraction layer provides MicroStrategy with many reusability and optimization capabilities. Factual “Regional” data could exist across several tables with different levels of aggregation e.g., ‘daily sales’ fact table or ‘monthly sales’ fact table. If the user runs a 2005 sales report broken by “Region,” the MicroStrategy engine will select the most efficient table. In this case it will select the Sales per month table as it provides the highest level of aggregation and the least effort to aggregate the yearly requested data. Cognos 8 provides a very weak object oriented definition of the data. Cognos’ Query Subjects and Query Items represent one-to-one mappings of the data warehouse table and table column structures respectively. Using Cognos Framework Manager, the Cognos 8 modeling tool, data modelers expose these first order representations of data to the report designers and ad-hoc query users. Reports are then created by selecting these individual “query items.” Since data modelers must specify that the “Region” query item will map to a specific table or “query subject,” it constrains the Cognos SQL engine from pointing “Region” to many “query subjects” or tables. This critical architectural limitation causes the lack of aggregate awareness capability in Cognos 8 and limits the performance, maintainability and scalability of the business intelligence applications.

4. MicroStrategy can scale to support upwards of 200 concurrent web users on a single four cpU Server. how many concurrent web users can cognos support on a single four cpU server? how does the tco of MicroStrategy compare with cognos’? Cognos can support a maximum of 19 concurrent web users per CPU2. Low concurrency per server in a Cognos environment results in dramatically inflated hardware costs to support a large Web user community. When evaluating the total cost of ownership for a BI application it is critical to focus on the whole business intelligence utility. If a CPU from MicroStrategy can support ten or more times the number of reports, then that many times more hardware and CPU licenses would be needed for a Cognos environment so it achieves the equivalent MicroStrategy throughput numbers. 5. MicroStrategy offers a full report formatting and wySiwyg editing environment for highly formatted reports over the web in a zero-footprint environment from any browser. Does cognos offer the same functionality without any dependency on activeX? can a report designer create a report in cognos report Studio using the Firefox or netscape browsers? which formatting options are available in cognos analysis Studio? MicroStrategy provides the report creation tools expected from typical publishing and design tools, such as guidelines and rulers. MicroStrategy allows the report designer to efficiently control the absolute position of report objects on the layout, delivering outstanding boardroom quality printouts. Cognos Report Studio does not have comparable design aids and the report designers cannot use absolute positioning to place report components over the layout. This limits printout presentation and increases report creation time. Cognos Report Studio provides a limited WYSIWYG design environment. Report designers must layout a series of tables and then embed the report components. To visualize the changes, report designers must run the report. If modifications need to be performed, designers must go back to the design environment to do the appropriate changes and re-run the report. The number of iterations to get a report to its final form without the WYSIWYG run-time capabilities that MicroStrategy offers, greatly decreases the productivity of the report designer in Cognos 8. Cognos Analysis Studio contains extremely limited report formatting capabilities for reports. Cognos end users under the Consumer role cannot personalize the report aesthetics or interact with the report data e.g., sort by a column. Cognos 8 end-users only receive a static view of the report. Cognos Report Studio requires Internet Explorer’s ActiveX and cannot be considered zero-footprint for run-time purposes. The use of ActiveX in Cognos opens security holes. Cognos dependency on Microsoft Internet Explorer

makes it impossible for users to create reports using the increasingly popular Firefox or Apple’s Safari browsers. 6. MicroStrategy allows dynamic drill anywhere from any data element on any report. Does cognos offer dynamic report drilling functionality? MicroStrategy underlying metadata and data schema allows users to easily drill anywhere to deliver the maximum investigative results. Users can drill from a Report Services’ report to any ad-hoc query or intelligent cube. End users are able to explore the data without waiting for IT to respond to them. Cognos 8 does not provide dynamic drill anywhere; it can only provide drill up and down paths. Report designers must manually create and enable drill links on a per report basis. This translates into many reports and links to

Table 5 from http://www.cognos.com/pdfs/whitepapers/wp_cognos_reportnet_scalability_benchmakrs_ms_windows.pdf shows that 875 users using Cognos ReportNet, which is the architectural baseline for Cognos 8, get a response time of 18 sec. when running a report (using 44 CPUs). 14

manually maintain. Cognos Report Studio provides a way to define links using a “hyperlink” mechanism where users can specify the target report and parameters to pass when users click on a particular column. Drill through links cannot be reused across different reports. In addition, if the “target report” changes and its parameters need to be updated, the user must go back to the “source report” and do the proper manual updates. While this “hyperlink” functionality is useful in particular scenarios, it is certainly not the right approach when it comes to replicating OLAP functionality such as MicroStrategy’s unique drilling anywhere. 7. MicroStrategy provides end users with “must have” interactive features supporting self-service environments that greatly reduce requests to it for slightly different versions of the report. which level of interactivity does cognos 8 provide to end users? MicroStrategy end users have useful interactive features at their finger tips. Interactive features such as sort, page by, pivot, formatting, and toggle totals allow users to slightly personalize the report presentation to their specific needs, minimizing the number of requests to IT and allowing them to obtain the information they want faster. Interactive functionality helps reduce the number of reports with slight variations e.g., users might like a summary report with an outlined view of the totals paged by “Region” while others would like a flat view of the data without any total information in a small font. While these two views serve different purposes, the data and report definition is the same. Users can get variations of the same report and avoid waiting on IT to create separate report definitions. Cognos 8 Consumer role provides its end users with very limited interactivity, forcing end users to flood IT with personal requests, promoting the creation of slightly different versions of the report and increasing the maintenance cost of the business intelligence application. 8. MicroStrategy covers an extensive range of report types as a result of supporting the “banding” paradigm for the creation of production reports, as well as the “zone-based” paradigm optimized for dashboards and scorecards. how does cognos 8 stand on its report style breadth capabilities? MicroStrategy covers all types of enterprise reports. The report designer can drag and drop attributes to the ‘group by’ section of the report and the header and footer for that attribute band will be created automatically. The MicroStrategy Report Services engine automatically generates the hierarchical rendering and subtotal calculations for the different bands. MicroStrategy Report Services could place report objects within “bands” for maximum flexibility, thereby supporting all types of business reports, including dashboards and scorecards. Cognos Report Studio utilizes HTML tables for the creation of reports. Cognos 8 does not provide an efficient and easy way to display the report information in different bands. In some cases, a designer using Cognos Report Studio can potentially work around this limitation through the use of nested HTML tables and mimic the functionality of “banded” paradigms. However, the use of tables within tables or nested tables is very time consuming and it hinders the report performance. Nested tables would also need to include additional duplicated objects that potentially incur extra queries and joins in memory. It is clear that Cognos 8 does not provide an

efficient way to address operational report requirements and is primarily optimized for dashboard and scorecards. 9. MicroStrategy provides out-of-the-box predictive analysis for the business user and integrates with 3rd party data mining systems. can cognos integrate with 3rd party data mining tools? Cognos provides data mining and predictive modeling via Scenario and 4Thought. These products are not well integrated with the Cognos 8 architecture. Cognos 8 does not integrate out-of-the-box with standards such as PMML, and best-of-breed data mining systems like SPSS, SAS and IBM Dataminer.


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MicroStrategy Incorporated • 1861 International Drive McLean, VA 22102 • 703.848.8600 • www.microstrategy.com

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