Microsoft is the world’s largest software company. Founded in 1975 and headquartered in Redmond, it has become a household name, primarily due to its Windows operating system and Office suite. Aside from these products, Microsoft has a vast range of enterprise software and cloud offerings including its own database, browser, various servers and ERP solutions.
In recent years, Microsoft has focused its business on cloud-based solutions such as Azure. AI and machine learning have also become increasingly important in product development. Microsoft completed its acquisition of the business social network LinkedIn towards the end of 2016.
Compared to the huge business the company does in a range of different markets, its BI revenues are relatively small. Nevertheless, Microsoft is a strong presence in the BI market and its offering is strategic to complement existing solutions and to drive cloud revenues. In the past, the vendor spread its BI capabilities across the Office, SharePoint and SQL Server product lines, providing tools for formatted reporting, analysis and dashboards.
Microsoft’s strategic development in the BI area dates back to 1996 when it purchased OLAP technology from Panorama. In just a few years Microsoft moved from being a surprising entrant into the OLAP market to become the market share leader. Its main database technologies are bundled in SQL Server, which many companies use today to build a central data warehouse. This package includes data integration (Integration Services, also known as SSIS) as well as multidimensional and relational data management. Reporting Services (SSRS), a solution for formatted reporting, is also included with SQL Server.
With Microsoft Azure, further innovative options are available. Azure consists of several data storage and ‑processing services. For data warehousing the most important options are the cloud-based services Azures SQL Database, Azure Data Lake, Azure Data Warehouse for data storage, as well as non-relational engines such as the Azure Cosmos DB. Azure Data Factory is a dedicated managed cloud service for data integration projects. It is also capable to run SSIS logic.
Microsoft Azure with Data Factory and SSIS offer a good cross-section of technical functions for data integration. More than other BI vendors, Microsoft relies on its partners to develop complementary technologies (e.g., data governance solutions) as well as sell and implement its solutions. We see different customers of all company sizes using Microsoft products. Many smaller and mid-sized companies rely fully on Microsoft products to cover all their BI needs.
User & Use Cases
Besides data integration (95 percent), customers mainly use Azure for data integration (64 percent) and data modelling (54 percent). 50 percent of respondents use it for enterprise data warehousing, 46 percent for data marts, 32 percent for data quality management and 29 percent for data warehouse automation. In our sample the platform is used especially by large companies with more than 2,500 employees (46 percent), 29 percent of medium sized companies (101 to 2,5000 employees) and 25 percent of smaller companies (less than 100 employees).
Respondents point out that around 35 people or 15 percent of the employees in the company use the platform. This is a quite high number and shows that it is a platform used for rather broad use cases or purposes.
Percentage of employees using Microsoft Azure
Number of users using Microsoft Azure
Company size (number of employees)