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  • Blog Post: Unnatural Hierarchies in Analysis Services 2008

    Continuing on from my last post, I explained what Natural Hierarchies were but I thought it would also be worth mentioning what the opposite was and the issues around that. Unnatural hierarchies can be created between any two attributes for example in the world of human resources (HR) it is becoming...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft Valuable Penguin

    I sometimes think the IT industry is a bit like a load of penguins on the pack ice, each one checking the others out to see who going to brave the ocean first.  In IT it’s nervousness about when to jump onto a new technology and if there is one technology that makes IT professionals really nervous...
  • Blog Post: SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP1 released

    The first publicly available technical preview of SQL Server 2008 R2 has just been released to TechNet / MSDN subscribers.  As with the development of SQL Server 2008 each successive CTP will have more features in. This CTP’s main feature is the Report Builder 3, and also included multiple machine...
  • Blog Post: Business Intelligence for Small Business – Scorecards

    If you have read my last two posts and are interested in applying BI to your business, how do you get started?  I would be begin by deciding what success look like for your business, and this should be a balanced view taking in such factors as: Finance. Obviously no business can survive without...
  • Blog Post: Performance Point 2007 and ProClarity Licensing

    As many of you know Whitehaven has gone digital today amongst quite a lot of confusion. I must admit I am struggling to to see the point of staying analog and quite what the fuss is about given that a freeview box costs as little as £20. The story around Performance Point and ProClarity still seems to...
  • Blog Post: SQL Server BI Community Evening, 10th June, Reading

    I wanted to call out the BI evening on 10th June because they’ve given me a slot to talk about SQL Server 2008 r2 and specifically the BI features you can expect.   There’s also sessions on Data Modeling and information architecture from Alex Pratt & Andrew de Rozairo (Sybase) and one on...
  • Blog Post: Talking about Business Intelligence to your FD part 1

    As I have remarked before Business isn’t run by the IT Department it is run by the people who hire and fire the IT department i.e. the Finance Director (FD). Given the current economic climate now would be a perfect time to see what you can do to help, so I have spent the morning listening to my FD ...
  • Blog Post: Slowly Changing Dimensions and Surrogate Keys

    You would expect there to be a record and hopefully only one record for each sales person in a typical sales system and another record in another table for each of the customers. But what happens when a one of these sales people gets assigned to a different territory or is promoted to be a regional sales...
  • Blog Post: Many to Many Dimensions

    One of the many cool things that's already in Analysis Services in SQL Server 2005 (SSAS) is the concept of many to many dimensions. Suppose I have 3 bank accounts and one of those I share with my wife, and on another I am co-signatory for a local charity. This means there is a many to many relationship...
  • Blog Post: SQL Server Advent Calendar 11 – Report Builder v2

    Day 11 of my virtual advent calendar, about stuff I like in SQL Server 2008.. …and I mentioned redesigning charts in my last post and the best answer might be to get your users to do it for themselves in Report Builder 2. Leaving you (the DBA BI expert) to concentrate on getting them the data they need...
  • Blog Post: What’s good in SQL Server 2012 Integration Services

    This is a guest post by Allan Mitchell MVP, and one of the top speakers at SQL Bits   The launch of SQL Server 2012 is not too far away and the SQL Server team have been hard at work adding new functionality and also improving upon existing features.  I am lucky enough to have been working...
  • Blog Post: Does “self service BI” mean more or less work for IT?

    Before I answer that question I want to be clear on what exactly self service BI means as you could argue that users have been doing BI for themselves since the spreadsheet was invented. In those early days users would often have to rekey data into whatever analysis tool they were using as the source...
  • Blog Post: SQL Bits Friday session

    I promise this is the last time I mention SQL Bits this week, but I wanted to let you know I have got 25 free tickets for the paid for event this Friday which would normally cost £149 to attend.  The venue is the Celtic Manor in Newport… and is probably the next best thing to going to TechEd. There...
  • Blog Post: Before I get started with SQL Server Denali ctp3

    I have spent the last couple of days setting up a demo environment for SQL Server “Denali”, and I thought it might be useful to share some of my experiences over the next few days. Before I get into that a short post about the environment I have which will comprise of 7 x virtual machines (VMs) running...
  • Blog Post: Making Hierarchies Natural

    I though it might be worth another post on hierarchies in Analysis Services 2008 CTP4 to show some more attribute relationship. If we look at the attribute relationships in the date dimension of adventure works below: the relationships match the hierarchies and so the design is well optimised and there...
  • Blog Post: Hierarchies avoid arguments

    Just when you thought you had heard the last of hierarchies there's another post. This one is a little different - it's about managing confrontation and arguments, not with the code in the SQL server CLR but with other humans! In a hierarchy you navigate upwards to see information at a summary level...
  • Blog Post: Hindsight is a wonderful thing

    It’s time to spring clean the blog as I have realised that a few of my older posts have been overtaken by events and could be misleading if they were acted upon now. For example: SQL Server 2008 is now supported on VMWare and other virtualisation platforms as part of the Windows Server Virtualization...
  • Blog Post: Whatever happened to the Virtual Cube?

    I got asked a very odd question today - "How do you use virtual cubes in Analaysis Services 2005?". I was momentarily speechless (a rare thing for those that know me!). This got me to thinking that there must be quite a few installations of the previous version analysis services 2000 (AS2000) out there...
  • Blog Post: HD Insight

    Despite common misconceptions Microsoft now has extensive interoperability with open source technologies for example you can run a php application on Azure, get support from us to run RedHat, SUSE or CentOs on Hyper-V and manage your applications from System Center . ,  So extending this approach...
  • Blog Post: Open Business Intelligence, spoilt for choice

    Let me start with a little history of Microsoft BI. Microsoft acquired an OLAP tool from a company called Panorama , project name Plato, which was bundled in with SQL Server 7.0 and from this grew the present incarnation of Analysis Services which IMHO is the crown jewel in the company's BI armory, it...
  • Blog Post: Using TinyInt as keys in Analysis Services

    Fact tables should be narrow and deep.  If you are recording every debit card transaction for every customer across the fifteen retail banks you own, you end up with 15 million rows a day, so to save space they need to be as thin as possible.  If one of your dimensions can only ever have a...
  • Blog Post: Data Warehousing from the Experts.

    If you glance to the side of this post you will see that one of the few books on my bookshelf is the Microsoft Data Warehouse Toolkit , and so I am annoyed that I can’t make the course of the book, presented by the authors, Joy Mundy and Warren Thornthwaite . For those not familiar with these two eminent...
  • Blog Post: SQL Relay

    I am in the middle of SQL relay this week, but I just realised that you might like to have a copy of my Denali slide deck, which I have now posted to SkyDrive . You are welcome to have a look at it even if you couldn’t make one of the four venues I am presenting at this week, but there isn’t a lot of...
  • Blog Post: PowerPivot Installation

    I hope my PowerPivot posts and videos are proving useful, and continuing this them I want to cover off installation. PowerPivot for Excel is a free download for Excel 2010 and simply doesn’t need any edition of SQL Server behind it. It comes in 32 bit and 64 bit depending on which variant of Excel...
  • Blog Post: Reporting Alerting in SQL Server Denali ctp3

    The installation experience for SQL Server Denali is very similar to SQL Server 2008 R2 but there are some important differences because of the new services.  I would also add that this is the install of the beta and I daresay I’ll need to do another post when it is released. The options for the...