Gemini is of course only a codename, and it was announced today that it’s real name will be ‘PowerPivot’. Given that there have been some pretty awful Microsoft branding decisions over the years I think PowerPivot is actually a very good name (let’s be glad it’s not called something like “Microsoft Office 2010 SQL Server Analysis Services R2 Desktop Edition”), certainly one that will stick in the minds of its target users. There’s a new website, albeit with no new information I can see, here:
Also, here’s a blog entry summarising the new features that are coming in Sharepoint 2010:
Here’s an excerpt highlighting the BI-relevant features:
Historically, business intelligence has been a specialized toolset used by a small set of users with little ad-hoc interactivity. Our approach is to unlock data and enable collaboration on the analysis to help everyone in the organization get richer insights. Excel Services is one of the popular features of SharePoint 2007 as people like the ease of creating models in Excel and publishing them to server for broad access while maintaining central control and one version of the truth. We are expanding on this SharePoint 2010 with new visualization, navigation and BI features. The top five investment areas:
1. Excel Services – Excel rendering and interactivity in SharePoint gets better with richer pivoting, slicing and visualizations like heatmaps and sparklines. New REST support makes it easier to add server-based calculations and charts to web pages and mash-ups.
2. Performance Point Services – We enhanced scorecards, dashboard, key performance indicator and navigation features such as decomposition trees in SharePoint Server 2010 for the most sophisticated BI portals.
3. SQL Server – The SharePoint and SQL Server teams have worked together so SQL Server capabilities like Analysis Services and Reporting Services are easier to access from within SharePoint and Excel. We are exposing these interfaces and working with other BI vendors so they can plug in their solutions as well.
4. “Gemini” – “Gemini” is the name for a powerful new in memory database technology that lets Excel and Excel Services users navigate massive amounts of information without having to create or edit an OLAP cube. Imagine an Excel spreadsheet rendered (in the client or browser) with 100 million rows and you get the idea. Today at the SharePoint Conference, we announced the official name for “Gemini” is SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel and SharePoint.
5. Visio Services – As with Excel, users love the flexibility of creating rich diagrams in Visio. In 2010, we have added web rendering with interactivity and data binding including mashups from SharePoint with support for rendering Visio diagrams in a browser. We also added SharePoint workflow design support in Visio.
Now, I’ve not been following Sharepoint 2010, but two things strike me here. First of all, Excel Services does heatmaps? It’s the end of a long day, but I don’t remember seeing heatmaps in my Excel 2010 CTP. I wonder if this is a new charting feature…? Secondly, Visio Services – ok, a quick Google shows that this has been public knowledge for over a year now, but I think this is very interesting from a BI point of view. Remember that Visio can already consume data from SSAS (see here on how to do this); assuming that Visio Services will be able to do the same thing, I think we have here yet another way of creating BI dashboards.
UPDATE: before you leave a comment, it’s just struck me that what Excel means by a heatmap is that colour-scale cell formatting that’s been possible since Excel 2007. Hmm, so probably nothing to get excited about.