Participating in MicroStrategy Beta Programs

MicroStrategy offers access to Betas of upcoming releases to any existing customers that are interested.  While you can’t publicly talk about the features until they are Generally Available (GA), it does provide you with many benefits for you and your company.  Participation is totally free, and there are no obligations.  I’ve participated in every Beta since 8.1, and even gave a presentation at MicroStrategy World 2009 on my experience with the v9 Beta.  Today, I’ll explain how the Beta Programs work, and how you can get involved.

MicroStrategy Beta Programs offers pre-release versions (read: buggy!) of upcoming MicroStrategy releases.  These are for the major releases including Service Packs (the “1” in 9.2.1).  HotFixes are generally shared in Beta form directly with you if you have a case that is resolved in them.

Levels of Beta Access
There are two main levels of Beta Access:

Beta Evaluators can be any existing customer.  Just tell them you’re interested in participating, and you’ll receive an email when new Betas are available for download.  You can then download them from MicroStrategy’s Download Site directly, and they come with full featured keys (usually only good for a couple of weeks).  You can then load up the Beta on a test box, and test it out.  You can log bugs that you find with Technical Support, so it gives you the ability to test out the critical parts of your project to make sure they didn’t break anything, as well as help make MicroStrategy a better tool overall.  You also get to preview the juicy new features which allows you to show them off around the office to drum up excitement or become familiar with them before you’re expected to be an expert by your boss.  The Beta includes Workshops for the new features to help you learn and try them using the Tutorial project.

Beta Partners is a great experience, but not anyone can join.  You must be nominated by your AE, and then selected.   Once selected, MicroStrategy will send Beta Consultants to your site for free and they will install it in your environment.  They’ll walk you through the new features and even train your end users for testing.  In addition to getting a first hand preview of all of the new goodies, you can provide direct feedback to the Beta Consultants who will in turn consult directly with Engineering.  I was fortunate enough to participate in the v9 Beta, and by the time the GA was released I had over 40 cases resolved or enhanced in the final product.  It’s an exceptional opportunity to get face time with Engineering, and help MicroStrategy make a better product.  And don’t worry if you’re in a small shop, the Beta Partners program isn’t just for mega-shops.  They like to test first hand with shops of all sizes.  When I was selected for the v9 beta, I was a 1 man shop with 75 users, so anyone can be selected.

Beta Expectations
In my experience, the Betas are usually very buggy and crash often, and are usually filled with features that are mid-development.  In a lot of cases, I think they should be referred to as Alphas more than Betas.  You shouldn’t even consider installing these copies in Development environments and they should be reserved solely for dedicated Test boxes.  However, if you do find a bug, you can log it with Technical Support and they’re very responsive with Engineering.  Fixes are usually very quick turnarounds.  This can also include Feedback on a feature, so if it’s not working exactly how you think it should, you can provide that feedback in the form of an Enhancement Request and you have a better than usual chance of it getting addressed immediately, since the code is “open”.

As a Beta Evaluator, you can download at your leisure, play with it at your own pace, get a jump on compatibility testing if you’re planning to upgrade quickly to take advantage of key new features, or skip them all together.  There are no obligations, no costs, and only benefits.  Give it a try!

 For more information, check out the MicroStrategy Beta Benefits page.

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