Following in the footsteps of a number of other active (and not so active) labs sites, Microsoft's BI (business intelligence) Labs quietly opened its virtual doors in April.
Like Microsoft's adCenterLabs, Office Labs and DevLabs, the Microsoft BI Labs is intended to be a showcases for fledgling technologies that some day may end up part of commercialized Microsoft products.
Microsoft already has a handful of BI Labs products listed on its new Web site. The various technologies there are all downloadable by anyone who'd like to kick their tires. (Remember, there's also no guarantee as to how long Microsoft will continue to offer any of these projects/technologies, as some Live Labs testers found out the hard way.)
The BI Labs technologies were developed by various teams around the company. The current technologies being showcased include:
Reporting Services LogViewer
A tool for formatting MDX and DAX queries
Fuzzy Look-Up Add-in for Excel
A tool for SQL Server datamining for the cloud
PivotViewer Extension for Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services
According to an introductory video, Microsoft's BI Labs plan to make available more prototypes and grassroots projects for download. These are not Microsoft-supported products and may or may not ever become parts of shipping Microsoft business-intelligence-focused products.
Business intelligence continues to be a key focal point for Microsoft's SQL Server and Office teams. The "Denali" SQL Server release, expected by some to ship in late 2011 or possibly 2012, is set to include more BI functionality. Microsoft delivered a first test build of Denali in November 2010. At the company's TechEd '11 conference in mid-May 2011, Microsoft is holding several sessions on "Crescent," a web-based, data visualization and presentation solution, and follow-on to the PowerPivot technology that is part of SQL Server 2008 R2