Microsoft extends analytical tools for SQL Server

Microsoft Corp. has released new tools for its SQL Server database that should make it easier for its partners to create data analysis applications for their customers in the financial services and manufacturing industries, the software maker said Monday.

Microsoft released two new templates for its SQL Server Accelerator for BI, a rapid application development tool that automates some of the low-level programming work required to build analytical applications, often referred to as "business intelligence" (BI) applications. The templates add support for financial services and manufacturing companies, and follow similar templates released in May for retail and sales and marketing.

The idea is to help customers make use of information stored in their enterprise applications that could help them to make better business decisions. The templates make it faster and easier to build applications that analyze such information, Microsoft said.

The financial services template provides a predefined schema, key performance indicators and a model for gathering relevant types of information. A bank could build an analytical program that helps it to figure out how effective its sales channels are, for example.

The manufacturing template provides a model for analyzing shop floor operations and can help users evaluate the cause of high labor costs, for example, or find opportunities to reduce production costs.

The templates can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/solutions/bi/, although the software maker suggests that customers work with one of its partners if they don't have experience building business intelligence applications.

SQL Server Accelerator for Business Intelligence is free to SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition customers. It is available in English, French and German, according to information on the Web site.

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