A Catalog-First Approach to MicroStrategy Reporting

Aaron Kalb
Aaron Kalb VP of Design & Strategic Initiatives

Tools like MicroStrategy and Tableau make it easy for business users to quickly turn raw data into visualizations and reports. But before you can even start, you have to find a relevant data set, understand it, and trust it. Then you have to connect to it, which can involve many steps and typing many slashes and dots (mysql://10.1.abc/xyz, etc.).

Even if you have Alation Catalog to facilitate finding, understanding, and trusting data assets, the process of actually connecting to data can be intimidating, difficult, and error-prone. It introduces needless friction in what should be a smooth and user-friendly process. Imagine if you had an app on your computer which made you type a Unix file path when you wanted to open a document.
Today the MicroStrategy team announced the next step in their relationship with Alation, the embedding of Alation Data Explorer in MicroStrategy 10. Alation Data Explorer enables Alation’s complete data catalog browser to be embedded within the MicroStrategy authoring experience.

Alation Data Explorer – A Self-Service, Embedded Data Catalog Browser

With this integration, the Alation Data Catalog becomes the go-to place in MicroStrategy to find and choose data assets to work with. Right in the MicroStrategy interface, you can open the Data Explorer interface where you can search or browse for schemas, tables, or queries, select the one you want, and immediately start working with that asset. It’s just like selecting File > Open on Mac or Windows.

The Alation Data Explorer allows the user to seamlessly search and browse data assets in Alation, understand them, and validate their credibility. Nearly all of the rich contextual information found in Alation Catalog—including titles, descriptions, flags, tags, and even conversations—is available within the Data Explorer Window.

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Figure 1. The richness of Alation Catalog, right in MicroStrategy 10

Complete MicroStrategy Data & Report Cataloging

This new announcement builds on work we’ve already been doing with MicroStrategy. A few months ago, we announced that Alation’s 4.6 release seamlessly catalogs MicroStrategy including lineage. Cataloging MicroStrategy reports continues our commitment to cataloging all BI & analytics applications that our customers use and supplements the strategy we announced last year with Tableau. With our cataloging integration, MicroStrategy and Tableau users get all the benefits of the Alation Data Catalog on reports and dashboards that existing Alation customers had on raw data, including an inventory of all data assets, the ability to see how those assets are connected to one another, and powerful collaboration features.

Balanced Data Governance with MicroStrategy & Alation

MicroStrategy end-users have historically leveraged IT-defined semantic layers. This top-down approach is highly governed and ensures consistency, but hinders analytical agility. By combining MicroStrategy’s governance framework with Alation’s automated, grassroots cataloging, our customers achieve consistency and compliance without sacrificing the efficiency and empowerment that is the hallmark of self-service analytics. It’s a balanced approach the helps get everyone on the same page.

Microstrategy Workbook

Figure 2. MicroStrategy dashboard integrated with Alation

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