2 page Case Study - Posted 3/6/2012
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Software Maker Gives Customers Self-Service Business Analytics Tools for Real-Time Data

With its flagship PI System, OSIsoft helps its worldwide customers deal with their real-time data demands, which can include collecting—and storing for instant retrieval—trillions of process measurements per year. To improve its customers’ ability to make full use of this data, OSIsoft is taking advantage of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 features to offer users self-service business intelligence (BI) tools and help them achieve high availability.

Business Needs

OSIsoft is a leader in the area of information technology called “big data.” Based in San Leandro, California, the company has installed its real-time data infrastructure at 14,000 sites in more than 110 countries. It serves the manufacturing, energy, utilities, life sciences, and process industries.

* With SQL Server 2012 and Power View, our customers can use these self-service BI tools to open doors and discover things in their own data. *

David Doll
Alliance Program Manager

Whether the customer is a power utility deploying smart grid solutions to better monitor power distribution safely and reliably, or a manufacturing facility with thousands of sensors for operational excellence, the common denominator is that they all generate vast amounts of data. In addition, customers want to capture the readings and store them for years—in some cases, decades—to support analytics, knowledge retention, and training purposes.

“A single oil refinery could have 50,000 production sensors generating data with 1-second resolution,” says Curt Hertler, Marketing Manager at OSIsoft. “Operators might want to store and have immediate access to this data for 20 years. A utility or multisite manufacturing organization might track output from hundreds of thousands or even millions of sensors. So the data gets big in a hurry—a single site could generate trillions of measurements per year.”

The solution serves as a time-series data infrastructure, aggregating measurements from a range of devices that would otherwise retain information in disparate systems. For the company’s latest release, PI Server 2012, OSIsoft wanted to enhance the ability of users to access and explore its wealth of data and to provide high-availability solutions that are easy to deploy and manage. The company also sought a solution that interoperates with Microsoft platform components, including Microsoft SQL Server 2012 data management software and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 collaboration software.


OSIsoft, which was founded in 1980, has long been a Microsoft partner, using the Windows platform, technologies, and development tools to create and deploy its flagship product, the PI System. OSIsoft uses SQL Server to map sensor data from the PI System with the equipment and sensors from which it came and to provide the foundation for many of its other functions.

Committed to offering its customers strong reporting and analytic solutions, OSIsoft was an early adopter of Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel and created its own real-time ad-hoc analytics tool, PI Coresight, using the same Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in technology used by Power View. The company incorporates Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 into its stack to support portal-based collaboration and interoperates with SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services.

In mid-2011, the company began working with prerelease versions of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise, running on the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, and it was eager to integrate SQL Server 2012 into its solutions. OSIsoft was immediately attracted to three new features: Power View, a self-service business-intelligence reporting tool that facilitates ad-hoc data queries; AlwaysOn availability group, which provides protection for application databases to help ensure high availability; and enhancements to PowerPivot for Excel, including key performance indicator (KPI) tools.

“We want to be the pathfinders for our customers,” says Prabal Acharyya, Director of Microsoft Worldwide Partner Alliance at OSIsoft. “SQL Server 2012 works with the PI infrastructure to provide customers with significant benefits.”


By taking advantage of SQL Server 2012, OSIsoft will be able to offer its customers easier analytics with Power View, better decision support with PowerPivot, and high availability with AlwaysOn.

Provides Easier Analytics with Power View

OSIsoft customers will now be able to easily dive into their PI System data using SQL Server 2012 to extract business intelligence. “With Power View in SQL Server 2012, our customers gain a very intuitive use of the data because it is so easy for them to build their own reports,” Hertler says. “Ease of use is important because our users tend to be plant engineers and other workers who don’t have experience creating or using multidimensional analytical cubes and other formal BI tools.”

David Doll, Alliance Program Manager at OSIsoft, agrees. “With SQL Server 2012 and Power View, our customers can use these self-service BI tools to open doors and discover things in their own data.”

Supports Better Decision Making with Real-Time Data

The company sees SQL Server 2012 providing enhanced business analytics tools for real-time decision support. “By using SQL Server 2012 and PowerPivot for Excel, users can easily create and manage their own key performance indicators based on data and events from the PI System,” says Acharyya. “Some of our customers have 20 or 30 years of PI System data from their operations. They can analyze their information using Power View, use the data to enhance their operations and best practices, and use PowerPivot to create KPIs so they can monitor their operations in real-time with dashboard simplicity.”

Hertler is interested to see what insights engineers and other users are able to gain by using their new self-service BI tools. “Power View gives users the ability to take the schematic model used in a specific spreadsheet, transfer it into SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services, and start their project there,” he says. “They can then place their findings on a SharePoint portal and collaborate with others to build on their ideas. One person’s insight can then benefit the entire enterprise. Our customers are going to like this.”

Promotes High Availability for Its Customers

As OSIsoft customers pull more value from their PI System, high availability becomes more important to them. “Our customers have moved the PI System from being a plant historian into a primary element of their corporate enterprise infrastructure,” Acharyya says. “They will appreciate the AlwaysOn feature of SQL Server 2012 because it makes it so much easier to deploy high-availability solutions.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft SharePoint

Vertical Industries
High Tech & Electronics

Business Need
Business Intelligence and Reporting

IT Issue
  • High Availability
  • Data Warehousing


Microsoft Services