MicroStrategy 'gateway' links Facebook to enterprise apps

The BI vendor also announced the availability of a new managed service for running BI, social networking, and other apps

MicroStrategy is rolling out a cloud-based service that allows the exchange of data between Facebook and enterprise applications, the BI (business intelligence) vendor announced Tuesday during its user conference in Monte Carlo.

Gateway for Facebook transforms Facebook's "social graph," the term for the collective interrelationships between users of the site, into a relational format, allowing ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) and other applications to work with the data, according to Microstrategy. Enterprise applications can also send information out to Facebook.

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Many features of Gateway for Facebook focus on performance and availability. A set of query algorithms combines overlapping queries, reducing the load on Facebook's servers. A governing mechanism tracks query loads and puts on the brakes if it appears Gateway will exceed Facebook's daily limits. The system also includes a database that holds social graph data, so it remains available if Facebook itself is having access issues, according to Microstrategy.

The announcement drew a measured response from one observer.

"Facebook provides both the social graphs and interest graphs that marketers and sales people need to improve their lead generation and campaigns," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "Patching to Facebook's open graph isn't anything special. It's what you do with it that's the secret sauce."

Moreover, tracking interrelationships on social sites is only part of the opportunity for companies, said Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson. "The bigger part of it is sentiment analysis and text analytics."

Pricing and availability information for Gateway weren't immediately available.

It is apparently just one of three products MicroStrategy is rolling out as part of a "social intelligence for the enterprise" strategy. It will be joined by Wisdom for Enterprise, a "social analytics engine for Facebook enabling analysis and segmentation of your fan base," according to the company's website. A third product, Alert for Enterprise, will provide targeted marketing campaigns.

Also Tuesday, MicroStrategy announced the general availability of MicroStrategy Cloud, a managed service for running BI, social, and other applications.

The service allows access to MicroStrategy's full BI platform and provides elastic scalability up to tens of thousands of users, according to a statement.

Customers can host their databases on the service or use it to connect to back-end systems. It will be offered in a range of price categories, from a "highly cost-effective base service" to an "extreme high performance enterprise" edition that can handle hundreds of terabytes of data, MicroStrategy said.

MicroStrategy can get customers up and running in as little as two days, compared to the years it can take to build out an on-premises BI infrastructure, the company claimed

Other vendors' technologies are running under the covers of the cloud service, including IBM's Netezza appliances, data integration tools from Informatica and ParAccel's analytic database platform.

The new offerings may help MicroStrategy cement its position as one the industry's largest remaining independent BI vendors.

One factor that helps MicroStrategy is the fact it hasn't made a lot of acquisitions, meaning its platform is well-integrated and focused strictly on BI, Evelson said. Customers can end up with lower long-term cost of ownership with such a system, he added.

"The problem [for MicroStrategy] comes when I'm an SAP ERP shop, and SAP tells me, 'you spend $10 million on ERP and we'll give you Business Objects at 10 cents on the dollar,'" Evelson said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.

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