A while ago, I saw Panorama was advertising a webcast detailing how Panorama gives a complete solution for the entire Microsoft BI platform, including PowerPivot. I have to admit, just seeing Panorama and PowerPivot in the same sentence seemed odd to me, as PowerPivot seemed like a completely full solution for its purpose. I didn’t see what Panorama had to add to the equation. And so I began asking Panorama a few questions…
So where does Panorama offer any added value?
Well, if your organization is considering using SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition along with PowerPivot. If you are going to deploy your PowerPivot workbooks to SharePoint 2010, and you’d like to look at them on the SharePoint platform (and not download it to your desktop), then you’ll probably be using Excel Services . This would probably be the case if your organization hasn’t moved completely to Office 2010. For instance, your organization may decide to integrate Office 2010 on the IT department workers desktops first and only later move the rest of the organization to Office 2010. Actually, something similar happened in the municipality with Office 2007 and so, I know that can and will happen…
In any case, if your user will be looking at the workbook through Excel Services, then he’s going to get a very thin client, which does not have all the capabilities of Excel on the desktop. This means you may be able to use the slicers and dicers defined for you in the workbook, but not add new ones. You will not be able to add formulas and exceptions. You will have a viewer to use, but not to contribute to, unless you open the Excel workbook on your PC.
Even more so, one of the drawbacks of PowerPivot on SharePoint is that you can only define security on the file level. You cannot, for instance, define that a worker will be able to see information on a certain department in the organization mentioned in the workbook. You can only grant your user to the whole organizational data in the workbook. Role security and visual totals are actually possible in SSAS.
So how does Panorama help you out on those things?
First of all, once a workbook is deployed to SharePoint, Panorama can connect to it, just as it can to any other SSAS cube. You can use the Panorama SharePoint webpart to create a view on the PowerPivot cube. The view can include a graph or a pivot with any slicers and dicers your users would like to add or remove, along with exceptions and formulas on the data etc.
In terms of security, through Panorama, you’ll be able to define slicer security on the data, and enable the users to use the view with the slicer security, without having rights to view the workbook (with all the data) which was published to SharePoint.
Basically, you’ll be able to do all that through Panorama and SharePoint 2010, without upgrading all of your organization to Office 2010 (and if your organization is currently on Office 2003, then that makes for quite a move).
I would also add that the UDC (Universal Data Connector) will also connect to PowerPivot published to SharePoint. So now, if you’d like, you can create a Panorama dashboard which incorporates data from SAP BW, SSAS, PowerPivot and a relational data source which can all connect through a joint slicer, (for instance, time).
What’s more is that Panorama can also connect to Google Apps. Though I understood it is not scheduled for the first release, I can’t help but think of a PowerPivot workbook which was published to SharePoint and then viewed through Panorama in a Google Apps. Probably not what Microsoft had in mind…
So, if your organization is considering SharePoint 2010, but not necessarily Office 2010 (and PowerPivot) for everyone, you may be interested in looking more into Panorama’s offer to connect all of your data sources. In that case, you can contact Panorama support for further information.