PowerPivot unveiled this week

So, in case you had not yet seen the news from the Sharepoint Conference… Project Gemini, Microsoft’s in memory BI engine, has officially been renamed as
 
PowerPivot.
 
It’s a name which initially took me a bit by surprise. You see, it seems to be a bit of an understatement… roughly the equivalent of calling the "Incredible Hulk", "tiny".
 
However, I can see why Microsoft have chosen this name. The target audience for PowerPivot is the Excel Super User community, who generally have a very good understanding of Pivot tables. And although those of us who are familiar with Analysis Services are well aware that "gemini" is far more than a powerful pivot table, it will sound appealing to those Excel folks.
 
So, enough about the name, what about the product itself?
 
Well, we’ve been on the Office 2010 TAP program for a number of months now, and have been working with the product suite. A few key features that really excite me about PowerPivot:
1. User Friendly
 – The entire experience from the end user perspective is 100% Excel. Everything from filtering data, to selecting tables, to creating relationships… all looks and feels like Excel.
2. Relationships
 – No more VLOOKUPS!! 🙂
 – The PowerPivot engine understands table relationships and is able to perform lookups and calculations across tables with relative ease.
3. DAX – The new expression language
 – For those that never quite got MDX… the power of this set based language is now exposed within Excel as an extension of the Excel expression language.
 – Double-edged sword admittedly, as it is a new expression language to learn, however first impressions are positive.
4. Reusability
 – Once the PowerPivot model has been published to Sharepoint 2010, lo and behold, we have an Analysis Services cube under the covers.
 – Really neat as it is exposed simply as an Excel document in a sharepoint list… meaning…
 – we can now build RS reports / dashboards from an Excel sheet in sharepoint, but use the power of the Analysis Services query editors and logic. Brilliant move.
 
Check www.powerpivot.com for official news on the product, as well as being able to sign up for the official release notification.
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