You know, I'd like to talk about technical issues more than anything else. But who works with BI and MS technologies know that MS offers you a good server (AS2000, that will be great with AS2005) but a poor client experience: if you put toghether Excel Pivot Table and OLAP Add-Ins, Data Analyzer, Office Web Components... well, you still doesn't have a solution who can take advantage of all the features of AS2000. Sure, you can write some VBA macro in your Excel sheet or you can still encapsulate your favourite OWC control inside your Win/Web form. But why lose your time writing something like this? Let's shop a client!
And here starts your pain: you have saved tousand of dollars on your server just to spend them for client platform. And what client? Often many bugs, not a great support (remember, I work mainly in Italy, Europe, the other side of the Ocean). I tried several products, more or less with the same troubles. Not that these products are so bad, but... when you dislike MS products... remember what a range of services (documentation, help, knowledge base and, why not?, newsgroups and community) you can use to find solutions to real problems.
Ok, I'll be ok with that if I but cheap software (or shareware), but as I said before... you are getting to spend a lot of money for these products. And, guess what? No demo. No evaluation version. No anything. You can, of course, call a salesperson.... who will say that you can but at least a 10 clients license (even if you have only 2 users). I ever thought that these guys has a wrong marketing. Today I had the demonstration. Today I received this e-mail (I only cleared references to companies and persons for obvious reasons).
We have had contact about YYYYYYYYYY and Microsoft based OLAP solutions.
You mentioned that your main interest is in consultancy and training. You could work with XXXXXXXXXXXXX to offer YYYYYYYYYY to your customers.
I know that you are a speaker at events and provide training/consultancy. Can you introduce XXXXXXXXXXX to your customers?
Now: I'm not interested in a single penny of commission. My reputation worths much more than that. But how can I suggest a product to a single customer (or to any student or to any attendant of a conference) if I can't test it before? Of course, I already tried to make this clear in a previous request and, after some month of silence, today I receive this (spectacular?) answer. May be this product is wonderful, but I can't base my opinion on a data sheet.
Microsoft: it's time for a serious BI client, we can't wait for your partners to get advantage of your servers...