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SQLBI - Marco Russo

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Donald Farmer left Microsoft for QlikView

As many of you probably already know, Donald Farmer left Microsoft to join QlikView. There are no doubts that Donald have been “the face of Microsoft BI” in the last years. This news has been initially perceived (me included, I admit) as a possible lack of confidence in Microsoft BI Vision, but after reading his blog and many other comments from Microsoft people, I can say it is not. This is more a personal choice, looking for a new challenge in a brilliant career in a relatively smaller environment with an high potential growth. In case he would not be alone then, well, a problem might exist. But I’ve seen much more people moving from dev teams years ago, whereas in the last one-two years the situation seemed pretty stable (except that Mosha Pasumansky moved to Bing one year ago, but it wasn’t a transfer to competition, anyway). Of course, in case several others key people would move to competition in the next months, then we should reconsider this move, but we don’t have clear indicators now.

A more important departure from Microsoft have been the Jamie MacLennan departure one year ago: he left Microsoft with several other people of its Data Mining team, founding Predixion Software and filling the gap of missing Microsoft investment in Data Mining in this timeframe. It is not that Microsoft dismissed Data Mining, but it is not high in its priorities by now. However, a niche market for Microsoft is always a great opportunity for a startup, and in 3-4 years the scenario might be completely different.

My opinion on this is that competition is good. Competition is good for the market and is good for us – users, consultants, developers, ISVs. One of my biggest complains to Microsoft in the past has been the slowness of reaction in the competitive BI market. Too many years from AS2000 to SSAS 2005. Too few new features from SQL2005 to SQL2008. Especially SSIS had very low investment after SSIS 2005 release. In the last two years things there is a different story. Big investments, big bets with some risks. New ideas on front-end side (Crescent and PivotViewer). Maybe some mistake, we’ll know that in the future. But without companies like QlikView probably Microsoft wouldn’t have invested so much in Vertipaq, the technology behind PowerPivot and the future version of Analysis Services “Denali”. We still don’t realize how much these products will change the way we do Business Intelligence, with consequences that might impact the infrastructure of a “traditional” BI solution like we know today. But today it is too early to discuss these details… the point is that I’m sure we are not looking at the end of an era. There is no supporting evidence for that.

That said, the real reason why so many people (as you can read on blogs, tweets and forums these days) are astonished at Donald move is that they know Donald personally. He is a great person: competent, brilliant, modest, gentle, helpful. The kind of person it is a pleasure to work with. Just to make an example: even if it was not supposed to be responsible for that, last year Donald found the time to give us very good feedback and several hints helping us planning the PowerPivot Workshop we are running these days. So, thank you Donald, I wish you the best!

Published Saturday, January 8, 2011 11:30 AM by Marco Russo (SQLBI)



PedroCGD said:

Only the time will tell us if BI will continue to improve or not. I hope soo, and I believe on the current Microsoft BI key persons...

But it's all about Microsoft TOP strategy! Microsoft main product strategies are in Office, SQL Database, Operational Systems and Visual Studio... all those products has some of BI...but the main focus is not BI.

For Microstrategy, ORACLE, SAS, SAP, SPSS... Microsoft is not yet a big competitor... But I believe and hope that in a few time Microsoft will be! And we should know that Microsoft does not has decades of proved work in BI... in 10 years a lot and amazing work as being done! We all hope to see Microsoft on the TOP!

Very good luck for all BI staff of Microsoft that has a big job to do!!

Also my perspective in my blog

Best luck Donald!


January 8, 2011 4:55 AM

Bob Phillips said:

I must say that in many ways I am not surprised. I have read comments about QlikView by Donald over the past year where it is clear that he was impressed by the company's strategy.

I also attended the recent Belgian SQLDay in December, where Donald was the keynote speaker. I have to admit I was underwhelmed, I came away thinking that this was a waste of a truly innovative thinker.

Whilst taking on such a public role for MS could be an effective way to be a key influencer in MS, I cannot believe that Donald would be up to the political machinations that undoubtedly go on at a company the size of MS, so maybe he felt he did not have the influence that he would wish. I am sure he will have this influence at Qlik.

As to whether MS are committed to BI, I must admit to having doubts myself. If they put as much energy and focus into a real world solution like BI as they do into the highly-dubious cloud then we would see some real movement on what is a really solid product set. Unfortunately, MS' tendency to veer from one band-wagon to another, to ditch technologies just when they start to get interesting, these things don't necessarily fill me with confidence.

But for Donald, I am sure he is making a good move, both in his career and for his personal life (maybe he will spend more time at home), and I wish him well with the move.

January 10, 2011 9:10 AM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Thank you for the comment, Bob - I share some of your thoughts about MS commitment, especially for some years ago. Today they are working on something big, but in my opinion they lost meny opportunities in the last years because they stopped innovation (and didn't provided a very good analytical solution) after shipping SSAS 2005. SSAS was the best OLAP engine in the market without an equivalent level of quality for the client side provided by Microsoft.

January 10, 2011 9:58 AM

Bob Phillips said:

Well, Muglia's departure doesn't exactly add to one's confidence does it?

January 11, 2011 3:34 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

This is a bigger news, but it's a different story.

Donald choosed to leave.

Bob has been fired (apparently).


January 11, 2011 6:36 PM

Bob Phillips said:

Understood Marco, but maybe Donald saw problems and jumped; why has Bob Muglia been fired when the division has been successful? Clearly we do not know all of the facts, but when you start seeing big movements in a corporation, it usually means there is an underlying problem/issue.

January 12, 2011 5:16 AM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

I'm not saying everything is ok! :)

But we don't have so many information.


January 12, 2011 5:21 AM
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About Marco Russo (SQLBI)

Marco Russo is a consultant, writer and trainer specialized in Business Intelligence with Microsoft technologies. He runs the SQLBI.COM website, which is dedicated to distribute resources useful for BI developers, like Integration Services components, Analysis Services models, tools, technical information and so on. Marco is certified as MCT, MCDBA, MCSD.NET, MCSA, MCSE+I.

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