Knosys Again Teams with Microsoft on SQL Server Beta

Microsoft Corp. has released the final version of SQL Server 2000, but the company's beta release sure has piqued the interest of Knosys Inc.

Knosys ( recently announced it will once again team with Microsoft ( during the beta stages of SQL Server production. This time around, Knosys released a beta product to leverage the beta version of Shiloh -- the code name for SQL Server 2000.

Knosys previously synched up with Microsoft during SQL Server 7.0's beta testing. After a successful run with that product, Knosys decided to move forth and do it again with SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services beta, formerly known as OLAP services.

"We have made it a habit to get involved with them during the beta cycle," says Clay Young, vice president of marketing at Knosys. "Over the last 90 to 120 days especially we have seen an interest in OLAP services and analysis services explode. And in part, there is a high degree of comfort with SQL Server 7.0 and the growth and demand is phenomenal. So we are going to continue to synch up with Microsoft."

Knosys' beta release is for ProClarity 3.0. The previous version of ProClarity, version 2.0, leverages SQL Server 7.0. It was released in beta with the SQL Server 7.0 beta, followed by the final versions late in 1998. ProClarity 3.0 is expected to ship around the same time as SQL Server 2000.

Some analysts ponder why Knosys would want to build a beta product on top of another beta. "Obviously there are advantages and there are risks with a beta on top of a beta. If you are going to be passive, you might miss out on opportunity; but if Microsoft goes down in flames, they might, too," says Howard Dresner, analyst at GartnerGroup Inc. ( "This is a long term investment though, and they [Knosys] seem to be doing good business. They are not as big as Hyperion, but it's healthy."

Knosys views the ProClarity beta as a big advantage. Since the company has worked so closely with Microsoft in the past on SQL Server 7.0, the cooperative effort is familiar. "Our development team works closely with their development team, and we focus on the same things," Young says. "We have all the front end interfaces and they're the back end."

Knosys added a lot of new features to ProClarity's core. One of the new features is an English query. This function allows users to do a relational query, but using plain English to run the query question instead of a complicated terminology. The only catch is that it doesn't work with other languages. "Like Microsoft says, it will never work in German, only in English," Young says.

Another function Knosys added is a write-back capability. Write-back lets users modify the data in the central OLAP database to help model possible outcomes. "They [Knosys] are taking advantage of Shiloh features, and they are adding write-back capability, which is something they lacked," Dresner says.

With all the work Knosys and Microsoft are doing together, users may wonder if they will see ProClarity bundled with SQL Server 2000 in the future. "There are no plans right now to do so, but there are definite plans to look toward more analytic applications," Young says.

Dresner agrees that a bundling agreement is unlikely. "I'd be surprised, unless Knosys resold SQL Server. Microsoft is going down the path to continue to leverage OLAP services through other Office components. But I don't think they'll bundle ProClarity or buy Knosys."

On the surface this relationship may seem more beneficial for Knosys' ProClarity, but that is not entirely true, Dresner says. "Microsoft wants to get as many partners as possible to show off all their new features. They need new applications showing off the analytical features and to show off Shiloh. To Knosys' advantage, they are perceived as a close partner of Microsoft and leading edge. This is beneficial to both of them."

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