Chris Webb's BI Blog

Analysis Services, MDX, PowerPivot, DAX and anything BI-related

Gemini is now PowerPivot, and other news

with 11 comments

Gemini is of course only a codename, and it was announced today that it’s real name will be ‘PowerPivot’. Given that there have been some pretty awful Microsoft branding decisions over the years I think PowerPivot is actually a very good name (let’s be glad it’s not called something like “Microsoft Office 2010 SQL Server Analysis Services R2 Desktop Edition”), certainly one that will stick in the minds of its target users. There’s a new website, albeit with no new information I can see, here:

and there’s a data sheet here:

Also, here’s a blog entry summarising the new features that are coming in Sharepoint 2010:

Here’s an excerpt highlighting the BI-relevant features:


Historically, business intelligence has been a specialized toolset used by a small set of users with little ad-hoc interactivity. Our approach is to unlock data and enable collaboration on the analysis to help everyone in the organization get richer insights. Excel Services is one of the popular features of SharePoint 2007 as people like the ease of creating models in Excel and publishing them to server for broad access while maintaining central control and one version of the truth. We are expanding on this SharePoint 2010 with new visualization, navigation and BI features. The top five investment areas:

1. Excel Services – Excel rendering and interactivity in SharePoint gets better with richer pivoting, slicing and visualizations like heatmaps and sparklines. New REST support makes it easier to add server-based calculations and charts to web pages and mash-ups.

2. Performance Point Services – We enhanced scorecards, dashboard, key performance indicator and navigation features such as decomposition trees in SharePoint Server 2010 for the most sophisticated BI portals.

3. SQL Server – The SharePoint and SQL Server teams have worked together so SQL Server capabilities like Analysis Services and Reporting Services are easier to access from within SharePoint and Excel. We are exposing these interfaces and working with other BI vendors so they can plug in their solutions as well.

4. “Gemini” – “Gemini” is the name for a powerful new in memory database technology that lets Excel and Excel Services users navigate massive amounts of information without having to create or edit an OLAP cube. Imagine an Excel spreadsheet rendered (in the client or browser) with 100 million rows and you get the idea. Today at the SharePoint Conference, we announced the official name for “Gemini” is SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel and SharePoint.

5. Visio Services – As with Excel, users love the flexibility of creating rich diagrams in Visio. In 2010, we have added web rendering with interactivity and data binding including mashups from SharePoint with support for rendering Visio diagrams in a browser. We also added SharePoint workflow design support in Visio.

Now, I’ve not been following Sharepoint 2010, but two things strike me here. First of all, Excel Services does heatmaps? It’s the end of a long day, but I don’t remember seeing heatmaps in my Excel 2010 CTP. I wonder if this is a new charting feature…? Secondly, Visio Services – ok, a quick Google shows that this has been public knowledge for over a year now, but I think this is very interesting from a BI point of view. Remember that Visio can already consume data from SSAS (see here on how to do this); assuming that Visio Services will be able to do the same thing, I think we have here yet another way of creating BI dashboards.

UPDATE: before you leave a comment, it’s just struck me that what Excel means by a heatmap is that colour-scale cell formatting that’s been possible since Excel 2007. Hmm, so probably nothing to get excited about.

Written by Chris Webb

October 19, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Posted in Gemini

11 Responses

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  1. Powerpivot is a good name. Short and snappy and it does what it says on the tin. I like it.


    October 19, 2009 at 8:56 pm

  2. It fits. I like it!


    October 19, 2009 at 10:20 pm

  3. Excel visualizations were in Excel 2007, but that, along with the other list of thngs, were very limited in Excel Services prior.


    October 19, 2009 at 11:02 pm

  4. Hmmm, "richer pivoting, slicing" in SharePoint ExcelServices. Wondering if it will allow interactive olap browsing??


    October 19, 2009 at 11:52 pm

  5. Ooh… decomp tree in PPS – at last!


    October 20, 2009 at 11:08 am

  6. Hey, yes, I hadn\’t noticed that Will – decomp trees!


    October 20, 2009 at 12:18 pm

  7. Where did you find the information about heatmaps? I also saw the decomp tree in the Video demo.


    October 20, 2009 at 1:23 pm

  8. It\’s there in the text, highlighted in red.


    October 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

  9. Sorry I missed that. I do not understand why they have dthe decomp tree in PP extensions and heatmaps in Excel services. Perhaps this will be much clearer soon.


    October 20, 2009 at 5:53 pm

  10. Good stuff! I\’m very excited about "Visio Services" and I think it can be a very cool "data visualization" tool in MS platform.


    October 21, 2009 at 4:35 am

  11. This will really save my A*********** damn these users can be a pain you know…!!!!


    February 2, 2010 at 12:16 pm

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