http://cobb.typepad.com/cubegeek/2009/0 ... -dead.html
It's worth quoting in full here - with some highlights (of mine)
Disappointment indeed. It's now official. I can say with finality that I wasted a year in my career. In fact, a lot of good people that I know personally wasted a year and even longer chasing the rainbow that was Microsoft Performance Point Server. It's a damned shame because some very smart people worked very hard and some hard earned money turned out to be a bad investment. I personally know people who went halfway around the world trying to make Microsoft PPS do what it was supposed to do. It's not just the clients of Madoff who are pissed these days.
I was fortunate to get hit over the head with a brick almost exactly a year ago when my boss made the judicious decision to trim his sails and begin cutting his losses in an ambitious project to corner the consulting market on PPS. We were the consulting vendor of choice. We proved that we could do things with that product that almost nobody else could and we survived on hope, skill and the kind of gallows humor dedication of the dogfaced GI.
There were several occasions when I had to stop and scratch my head wondering if it was just me or were we pushing ropes. But I'm no quitter. If there was a way to make that stuff work, we were going to do it. Now what I remember of the story can be told.
First of all, PPS was a decent product. It had particular strengths and weaknesses that you might expect from a version one launch, but in my revised opinion - the kind of opinion I could afford to develop after I left the team, there were certain things that simply doomed it. Only one of them had to do with the technology.
The first and foremost thing that doomed PPS was that it was a Microsoft product and what I learned was that Microsoft, certainly as far as PPS was concerned and probably in general is a technology company, not a product company. That is to say that Microsoft is the kind of company that is well suited to marshal its resources on a global scale with a large existing installed base of interlocking technologies but that ability doesn't scale down. Microsoft is incapable of profiting from small products with small markets, and from a Microsoft perspective PPS was tiny.
Secondly PPS itself belonged to nobody. Not that there were 'nobodies' in charge of it. In fact there were multiple big somebodies in charge of various parts of it. There lies the problem; there simply was not one integrated product organization that could make decisions in support of the product and then stand behind those decisions internally to Microsoft or externally to consultants and customers. PPS primarily belonged to 'OBA', the guys responsible for Microsoft Office. Now I know BPM people are saying what!?. I did too, but that's the way it went. PPS also depended on Excel, which was another group. PPS also depended on SharePoint which was another group. And of course it depended on SQL Server & Analysis Services, yet another group. So who coordinated all of those development efforts? Effectively nobody.
Thirdly PPS had no product roadmap. The product roadmap for PPS was basically a function of sales. We throw it out there to 50,000 customers, we expect an adaptation rate of 3% at a price of X per pop, there's your revenue stream. Completely absent from that was a feedback loop. Microsoft didn't care a hoot about what customers and developers might have to say about the product's features or shortcomings. It was as if a mighty focus group or marketing exec had spoken and that was the end of it. So when things went wrong, and believe me a lot of things went wrong, there was no recourse. So nobody inside or outside of Microsoft, situated to support the product knew if, for example, there would be a published API for the product. Nobody knew if there was actually going to be a next release or what the priofities might be in that release. For all the things we knew that worked or didn't work internally to the product, we would be stuck telling our customers - well we don't really know when Microsoft is going to address that. In fact, we didn't even know IF Microsoft was going to address that.
Fourth. PPS just didn't perform
. I had guys working the guts of this product and one of the things that was entirely too clever about it was that it had a kind of code generator that would determine whether or not it would use MDX or T-SQL to execute its functions. I don't recall what people have said about how well optimized Microsoft compilers are, but obviously none of those geniuses worked on optimizing PPS. PPS would generate a meta-language that was basically full of crap. Our guys were hand-coding all of the internals and forcing the product to use SQL instead of MDX, period. It was the only way to get it performing worth beans.
I recall a famous meeting I had up in Redmond with some really sharp guys that Microsoft had redeployed from FRX to get on the PPS bandwagon. I didn't like it because it meant that Microsoft was hedging on us as a consulting vendor, but we all figured that the market would eventually take care of us all so we played nice. One of the top three PPS architects in the world was there explaining and demonstrating one of the few successful internal implementations. As we went through the demo the architect did a drilldown in Excel. You know me, I counted seconds for response time. ..6..7..8..9..10. After about 12 seconds we got about 50 rows of data. Let me make that clear, 50 rows with 12 columns, 600 freaking cells. This, I know because I asked, was coming off of a 64bit server. Anybody with any experience in OLAP knows that kind of performance was unacceptable back in 1992. At the time of this meeting, there was only one person who actually had any experience doing any back-end tuning behind PPS. All I could say was, well, FRX has done well in the mid-market, so maybe this isn't so bad. But I knew from that moment on that it would be a cold day in hell before we could beat Oracle, Cognos or even Outlooksoft for Enterprise customers
And yet Microsoft people had the nerve to believe that their entry into the market - their purchase of ProClarity was this fearsome move that *prompted* Oracle to buy Hyperion and IBM to buy Cognos. Unbelievable. I have to say in retrospect, that PPS was the crappiest product I've ever had to work with for its market. ProClarity was 3 times better by itself. ProClarity as a company may have been destroyed here, but there's an object lesson that the brains behind ProClarity and the organization was much better suited to manage that product than Microsoft. I've come to terms with my frustration with Microsoft. I don't hate them, but I understand why people hate them. I have never, in my entire career, had customers so furious at me for a failure to deliver on promises implicit in a product. I have never seen smart consultants so frustrated by a product's complexity and poor performance. I have never seen businessmen have to tapdance so fiercely to keep everybody on the same page.
I've learned a great deal about Microsoft, people and myself through my experience with PPS. I can say this. When it comes to delivering products and services to the enterprise, Microsoft is better to have as an enemy than as a partner.
To all my friends and associates in Redmond and Century City, to all of my customers and partners in Washginton, Arizona, Oregon and Hong Kong, you know I have great respect and admiration for your courage under fire. I'm sorry to have failed you. I did all that I could, but now you know that Microsoft just didn't back us up.
Now there's somebody who I have to buy a cow.