Microsoft has acquired Datazen, a mobile business intelligence and data visualization service.
- Datazen accelerates Microsoft’s Power BI strategy to help organizations create a data culture with easy-to-use, accessible tools to extract maximum value from data – from anywhere, on any device.
- SQL Server customers would love Datazen, because it is optimized for SQL Server Analysis Services and the overall Microsoft platform
- Datazen, allows businesses to create mobile dashboards from data in Microsoft Excel, but also from other cloud and enterprise database sources. To run Datazen, enterprises need to run Windows Server, IIS and .NET behind their firewalls, as well as Datazen’s server software.
- Datazen offers apps for Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, Android and the web. Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Edition customers (version 2008 and up) can already download Datazen’s server software at no cost.
- Datazen is a mobile BI solution for customers who need a solution that is implemented on-premises. As such, it will complement Power BI, Microsoft’s cloud-based business analytics service.
Technical Architecture :
Datazen KPI repository enables rapid publishing of key metrics in a way that guarantees premium native user experiences on all device and screen form-factors.
KPI values and trends are based on queries from live data sources and are displayed on the Datazen main screen for quick user access.
Each KPI can be associated with one or more Datazen dashboards, enabling the user to drill-down and perform in-depth analysis for the selected metric.
Dashboards & Scorecards
Unified Dashboard Designer
Datazen Dashboard Designer has been conceived to be the single publishing point for BI content. Connect to your data sources, create layouts and publish with complete confidence that your dashboards will work on all mobile platforms and scale perfectly to any screen size. Datazen Dashboard Designer is:
Simple. Dashboard creation process is so simple that anyone – even a user with minimal technical skills – can create effective data visualizations and interactive dashboards.
Flexible. Any reasonable dashboard layout and any reasonable combination of metrics is supported. In addition, any number of data source types can easily be used within a dashboard.
Beautiful. Datazen Dashboard Designer makes it impossible to create visually unattractive dashboards. Try and see for yourself!
Designer Feature Highlights
- Simulated data is generated at design time to match your dashboard’s requirements
- Ability to mashup different data sources in a single dashboard
- Ability to treat Excel, cloud and enterprise data sources equally
- Ability to save dashboards locally or publish to server directly from the designer
- Ability to quickly create effective phone dashboard layouts
- Ability to easily style the dashboard and maintain a sharp, professional look
Rich, Interactive Visualizations
Datazen dashboards and scorecards are built using the gallery of visualizations and data navigators/slicers. The entire user interface of the product is optimized for touch input and designed to scale perfectly to any screen form-factor.
The Time Navigator element is a great example of touch-enabled interactions, allowing users to make time range selections using quick touch gestures. Other interactive features include the ability to make hierarchical selections, perform data drill-downs and drill-throughs to other dashboards or external URLs.
Perfect Rendering in Any Screen Form-Factor
Datazen’s unique layout creation technology enables efficient coverage of the entire BI presentation layer and perfect scaling to all screen form-factors:
- Mobile Phones
- Large Screens
Extensive Drill-Downs and Drill-Throughs
Datazen includes the ability to link (drill-through) from a dashboard to:
- Another Datazen dashboard, or
- To a custom URL
In each case parameters are passed to the target dashboard or URL. Using this technique the dashboard creator is able to set the filtering & time slicing criteria of the target dashboard as well as set the parameter values of any parameterized data views that the target dashboard may be using.
Similarly, parameters can be passed to a custom URL via the query string. This enables integration with other reporting systems (such as Microsoft SSRS).
Drill-throughs can be initiated from simple Datazen controls (like gauges) or more complex controls (like XY Charts or Data Grids). When a drill-through is initiated from a complex control, selected item details (chart point or a data grid row) will be available in the list of parameters that can be sent to the target dashboard/URL.
Support for Very Large Data Sets
Datazen features the ability to work with very large data sets by only loading the data required to display the current dashboard view and reloading data from the server based on user interactions. This is accomplished through parameterized server data views. When creating a server-based data view, the user has the option to define a collection of parameters that can be passed to the data command (query) that produces the data view.
Dashboard navigators (like Time Navigator or Selection List) can be configured to execute a server query with the appropriate command based on user action. This loads a new dataset from the server instead of performing client-side filtering.
Support for Custom Maps
Datazen ships with a collection of 70 maps, covering all major world countries and regions. In addition, the product supports the ability to create and manage a repository of custom maps.
Custom maps are defined using the standard ESRI shapefile format for maps. Custom maps (consisting of .shp and .dbf files) can be managed through the Map Repository section of the Datazen Server Control Panel.
Native Apps for All Mobile Platforms
Datazen delivers native experiences to all major mobile platforms. Each mobile client is built using the native UI paradigms of the target platform and feels entirely natural to the user on their device of choice.
Datazen for Windows 8 (and later) features immersive navigation with semantic zoom, live tile updates, pinning dashboards and KPIs to the start screen, dashboard sharing through charms, search charm integration, support for snapped layouts & windowed mode, data caching for offline dashboard access, multiple Datazen Server connections and the ability to create and publish dashboards based on Excel or live data sources.
Datazen for iOS 7 (and later) features the ability to connect to Datazen Server securely, access published dashboards & KPIs and collaborate with the team by participating in KPI and dashboard discussions. The iOS app also supports managing multiple Datazen Server connections and storing KPI summary data for offline access.
Similar to the iOS client, Datazen for Android 4.1 (and later) features the ability to connect to Datazen Server securely, access published dashboards & KPIs and collaborate with the team by participating in KPI and dashboard discussions. The app also supports managing multiple Datazen Server connections and storing KPI summary data for offline access.
Browser Access via HTML5 Rendering
Each Datazen Enterprise Server deployment features HTML5 rendering of all published dashboards. These dashboards can be accessed though any of the following methods:
- Secured access via a login screen. Upon authenticating, the user is granted access to the list of dashboards as configured through the permissions Datazen Server settings;
- Public dashboards. For those Datazen Server deployments where guest access is enabled, a list of publicly accessible dashboards is provided. Linking directly to any published dashboard is also supported;
- Using a mobile device chrome shell. Datazen Server HTML5 viewer includes a device chrome shell designed to help test dashboard rendering in various device form-factors;
- Embedding dashboards and dashboard lists into other apps. All HTML5 output produced by Datazen Server is designed to be easily embeddable into other web apps. Supported examples include SharePoint and custom web apps.
Each Datazen KPI and dashboard includes a dedicated activity stream. This stream consists of important events such as KPI/dashboard creation and updates, as well as user comments for the given KPI/dashboard. Comments are ordered chronologically and contain context information, such as the value of the KPI at the moment when the comment was made.
Activity streams for all KPIs and dashboards in a BI hub form the combined activity stream for the entire hub.
When it comes to custom branding, Datazen goes well beyond simple logo placement. All aspects of the app chrome are customized. The result is a fully-branded experience that looks and feels like custom mobile apps were created for your BI deployment.
Brand packages can be applied on a per-server basis or on a per-BI hub basis. Therefore a single Datazen Enterprise Server deployment can contain many different brand definitions. Brand packages are managed through the Datazen Server Control Panel and are fully integrated with the Datazen Designer.
Fully-Featured Dashboard Publishing System
- Publish directly from Datazen Designer
- Users gain immediate access to latest dashboards
- Manage from the Datazen Control Panel
Datazen Server enables all users within the organization to gain access to the latest dashboards and live data sources – seamlessly and securely from their Windows 8 devices. Dashboard publishing process is equally seamless for the BI group: simply create and publish your dashboards straight from the Datazen Designer. Your users gain immediate access to all dashboards they have permissions for. The Datazen Server Control Panel offers versatile settings for collaboration and sharing through the notion of Dashboard Hubs, Dashboard Groups as well as user and group-based permissions.
Live Connections to Cloud & Enterprise Data Sources
Datazen Server-published dashboards can connect to the following data sources:
- Microsoft SQL Server
- Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services
- Microsoft SQL Azure
- Microsoft SharePoint Lists
- Excel documents in network shares
- Generic ODBC data sources
- Other data sources available upon request
Enterprise-Grade Security Throughout the Entire Stack
All elements of the Datazen product stack have been designed from the ground up based on proven enterprise security best practices. Datazen supports the following security features:
- Active Directory authentication
- Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) authentication
- Granular permissions controls for all dashboards and data views
- Secure device-server communication through SSL
- Data encryption at rest on Datazen Server
- Data encryption on the client in case of device loss
- PIN lock screens in all mobile client
Personalized Queries for User-Specific Data Views
Datazen features the ability to incorporate the user identity into the live data source queries. This enables implementation of personalized dashboards and KPIs that contain the data relevant to the user who is requesting the dashboard/KPI. Security roles can be implemented in the data tier, enabling hierarchical personalization structures. For example, managers can get the aggregated relevant data for all employees they oversee.
Server-Side Data Caching for Optimal Performance
Datazen Server features a sophisticated system for pulling data from the configured data sources. All data views are periodically refreshed and the results are stored by Datazen Server in its highly efficient data cache. Data refresh intervals can be configured on a per data view basis. This results in near-instantaneous dashboard loading within the Datazen client.
Client-Side Data Caching for Offline Access
Data views for server-based dashboards are stored on the client device – if that is allowed by the security policy configured by the administrator. This enables users to disconnect the device from the network (or switch to airplane mode) and still be able to run their server-based dashboards. Data for those dashboards will reflect the state of the original data source at the moment they were last connected.
Easy Administration Through a Browser-Based Control Panel
Datazen Server Control Panel enables system administrators to configure the product to integrate with their IT environment. This includes user management and connections to various data source types.
Dashboard publishers use Datazen Server Control Panel to create new data views, create and manage Dashboard Hubs & Dashboard Groups, as well as set access permissions for the dashboards they published.