PPS Planning Being Discontinued
Posted by Alan on January 26, 2009
So needless to say I was a little shocked when the rumors I began to hear Wednesday turned out to be real with the formal announcement that was made on Friday. My shock has since turned to anger and frustration.
I decided to hold off posting anything until I had time to cool off and until we had our one-on-one call with some of the Microsoft executives in Redmond who run the BI arena. My hope was to have some greater insights before I posted anything.
Unfortunately the amount of actual valuable information we got today was ZERO. Right now, they either don’t have any answers for us or don’t have any answers that they are able/willing to share. This includes answers to really simple question that anyone who was in anyway involved in this decision should have been able to answer. I wish I had more to share other than this whole thing has been and continues to be handled horribly. My gut tells me that they didn’t think this thing through because a timely and rationally made decision would have involved being ready to answer basic questions and concerns. I see none of that on Microsoft’s part.
Our next call is with leaders in the Dynamics group on Wednesday to see if we can figure out what they are thinking. I don’t hold out hope for that call. Not because I don’t think they will hide anything, but apparently this whole thing was just dumped into their lap on Friday as well and how much of a plan can they have come up with in three days. Our goal is to find out in concrete terms what it means to have a reinvestment in Forecaster or Enterprise Reporting.
So for anyone who might care here are the rest of my thoughts on this whole mess:
I want to be clear that none of the following information is based on my conversation of today and is my own opinion and my own personal opinion only.
For me the decision to roll M&A into SharePoint 14 as PerformancePoint Services similar to Excel Services, Form Services or the upcoming Visio Services on the surface makes business sense. The Monitoring components are all delivered to the end-user via SharePoint anyway so this isn’t much of a stretch. However, adding it as part of a new Enterprise CAL, even if it carries a slightly higher price point, really discounts the business value of the Monitoring components of PerformancePoint. Basically, Monitoring is now worth what you pay for it. So if you already are getting the Enterprise CAL then Monitoring is “free”. I personally think this is going to hurt actual deployments of Monitoring in the long run. The thought process being — if it was worth something and if it worked, them Microsoft wouldn’t be giving it away for free. I have to believe that the other BI vendors out there (Hyperion, Cognos, Business Objects, etc.) will be playing up this message big time, along with the message that BI applications are only an afterthought to Microsoft. I can’t say that I disagree.
I am still unsure of how the ProClarity Desktop components fall into the mix. We all knew the ProClarity Analytics Server functionality was being rolled into Monitoring, but what about the Desktop components? Last I heard they were going to see more of that in Excel. But do you really think Excel 14 will be getting decomposition trees or heat maps?
And what of Management Reporter? What is the future of Forecaster or FRx or Enterprise Reporter? All items that have been mentioned casually but with no substance. There are a huge number of unanswered questions still remaining.
But as you can guess the real shocker is the total discontinuation of Planning with no real explanation, no migration to another solution and no real statement of direction. We get SP3, which means no new functionality, and then support until 2013.
As a Microsoft partner I am angry. The amount of time and money we have spend over the last 18 months on PerformancePoint to develop a practice focused on Planning was huge. We had hoped to recoup our investment over the next few years but that isn’t going to happen. There will be no new sales of Planning and anyone who can still hold off on implementation will unless they are insane. Who in their right mind would buy a “dead” product when they have other choices, provided by major vendors, that are all being supported and continue to be developed?
If I was a Microsoft client who has invested in PPS specifically for the Planning functionality I would be demanding all my money back. Not just for the PPS software itself, but for the cost of new servers, new infrastructure software (i.e., SQL Enterprise, etc.) all the consulting that was spent to implement it, and the the internal costs of staff time as well. I hope they all stand up and refuse to accept this lying down.
I think back to the BI Conference last October and how, as far as I can remember, Microsoft totally avoided any discussion of a BI or PPS roadmap. I thought it strange then and now I really wonder if the decision on Planning had already been made at that time.
Now for me, it once again shows that Microsoft fails to realize that selling business applications takes time and it is not a commodity purchase. I believe that Microsoft got into panic mode. Sales were down, financial targets were going to be missed and company layoffs were happening for the first time ever. They took a look at the PPS sales numbers of PPS and didn’t do any deep business analysis and made a bad decision. Those of you who worked in the Dynamics space prior to the Microsoft acquisition of Great Plains Software and Navision understand. People can’t adopt a budgeting (or ERP) system overnight just because a new one becomes available. The decision to switch systems like these are tough ones to make, and not made overnight because of the ripple effect throughout the organization. Then once the decision to switch has been made most companies of any size will go through an intensive evaluation process that includes RFIs, RFPs and numerous presentations. Then once they decide on potential solutions, they need to slot a deployment that can be accomplished between budgeting cycles. All of this takes time, especially coupled with the attitude that most people have that they won’t look at a Microsoft product until it releases its first service pack. As a case in point, my latest client, who just signed last month began, their search process in October 2007 — that is 14 months from beginning of the search process to signing on the dotted line. We have been promoting Planning since before it was actually released, and only now are we seeing true positive results. This timing really sucks because for us, Planning was taking off like gangbusters.
Final note. Steve Balmer has repeatedly stated that Microsoft “eats its own dog food” in reference to PerformancePoint Planning and are using it internally. I wonder what happens now?