Business Intelligence

Prashanth Jayaram

How to use Python in SQL Server 2017 to obtain advanced data analytics

June 20, 2017 by

On the 19th of April 2017, Microsoft held an online conference called Microsoft Data Amp to showcase how Microsoft’s latest innovations put data, analytics and artificial intelligence at the heart of business transformation. Microsoft has, over the last few years, made great strides in accelerating the pace of innovation to enable businesses to meet the demands of a dynamic marketplace and harness the incredible power of data—more securely and faster than ever before.

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Minette Steynberg

Reporting in SQL Server – Power BI Report Server

June 13, 2017 by

Power BI is a self-service business intelligence tool from Microsoft which has been steadily gaining momentum in the last couple of months. One of the well-known disadvantages of Power BI is that it is basically cloud only. A lot of companies are not yet at the point where they feel comfortable having their data in the cloud or are premise bound for some other reasons such as data-sensitivity, data-sovereignty or compliance.

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Craig Porteous

Considerations for On-premises data in PowerBI

June 7, 2017 by

Whether you’ve been using PowerBI for a while or you’re just getting started with it, chances are you’ll want to source at least some of your data from on-premises systems. Be that SQL server databases, Oracle, SSAS etc. The same process even applies if you’re sourcing from AWS which I’ll go into in more detail below. All of these data sources will require Microsoft’s On-Premises Data Gateway.

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Koen Verbeeck

Analysis Services (SSAS) Multidimensional Design Tips – Creating Dimensions

June 1, 2017 by

In the previous article, Analysis Services (SSAS) Multidimensional Design Tips – Data Source View and Cubes, we discussed best practices for SSAS Multidimensional cubes and data source views. In this article, we continue the series with design tips for creating dimensions as the subject. As with the previous article, most tips are suited for SSAS 2008 (most likely 2005 as well) to 2016 and later versions. Analysis Services Tabular is not covered in this article.

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Koen Verbeeck

Analysis Services (SSAS) Multidimensional Design Tips – Data Source View and Cubes

April 28, 2017 by

In this article, we’ll discuss some tips and best practices regarding the design of OLAP cubes in Analysis Services Multidimensional (SSAS). Most tips – if not all – are applicable for SSAS 2008 to 2016 (and later most likely). Since Analysis Services Tabular – the in-memory columnstore OLAP database from Microsoft – is a completely different design experience, it will not be included in this article.

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Andrea Martorana Tusa

How to create geographic maps using Power BI – Filled and bubble maps

April 5, 2017 by

The project

This is the first article of a series dedicated to discovering geographic maps in Power BI.

My goal is to illustrate to you the different visuals available in Power BI for making maps. Remember that Power BI is a product undergoing constant evolution; new features are added every month at a fast pace. And over the time Power BI has gained more mapping capabilities compared to the starting point.

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Koen Verbeeck

How to optimize the dimension security performance using partitioning in SSAS Multidimensional

March 27, 2017 by

Introduction

In the articles How to partition an SSAS Cube in Analysis Services Multidimensional and Benefits of Partitioning an SSAS Multidimensional Cube, the concept of measure group partitioning is introduced and the advantages are clearly illustrated. One of the biggest advantages of partitioning is partition elimination, where only the partitions necessary to satisfy the query are read instead of all the data.

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Sifiso W. Ndlovu

The evolution of SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) for Business Intelligence development

March 9, 2017 by

By all accounts, the introduction of SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) in SQL Server 2012 was a watershed moment for many SQL Server developers. For better or for worse, SSDT as an IDE for business intelligence development changed – amongst other things – the way we deployed our SSIS packages (i.e. package vs project deployments), simplified Tabular Model development, and also introduced us to the SSISDB. Likewise the replacement of Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) with SSDT had its detractors who were noticeably not very happy that in addition to installing SQL Server 2012 you still had to do a separate download and installation of BI templates for SSDT (previously, BI templates in BIDS were available as soon as you installed SQL Server 2005/2008). Although SSDT-BI is still being offered as a separate installation, subsequent releases of SSDT have included several enhancements changes that should go a long way to winning the hearts of its critics. In this article we conduct a comparative analysis of all versions (up until 16.5) of SSDT and identify all the major improvements that have been introduced in the BI templates.

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Sifiso W. Ndlovu

Top 5 Deprecated Features in Reporting Services 2016

February 17, 2017 by

It’s not often that I write negative articles surrounding SQL Server’s latest release but ever since we upgraded one of our BI boxes to run SQL Server Reporting Services 2016 (SSRS 2016), I have picked up on some frustrations from my team when using the upgraded Report Manager portal due to the unavailability of features that used to exist in versions prior to SSRS 2016. I have since realized that in spite of the many exciting features and improvements introduced in SSRS 2016, there is a downside to this latest version of reporting services that is likely to leave many administrators frustrated.

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Craig Porteous

SSRS Failed Subscription Alerting

February 10, 2017 by

Even now, with SQL Server 2016 SP1 released only a few months ago, it baffles me that there is still no built-in functionality to alert admins or users of failed subscriptions in Reporting Services. We still rely on scripts like the one I’m about to describe or report recipients contacting administrators/helpdesks when their report emails don’t arrive or fail to appear in file shares. This is something that people have had to work around for years. There is some documentation that Microsoft provides to help you get started with monitoring subscriptions from the log files with direction on using PowerShell but it is not by any means a complete solution. (Monitor Reporting Services Subscriptions)

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Sifiso W. Ndlovu

How to resolve Excel Timeline Filter Errors caused by SQL Server OLAP Data Sources

January 31, 2017 by

Over the course of my career, I have developed and deployed to production several business intelligence solutions. These solutions have been consumed using numerous data visualisation tools. One of those data visualisation tools, is Microsoft Excel – which remains a popular data visualisations tool for many of my end users. Like many software products, newer version releases of Excel usually introduce new features. One such feature is the Timeline filter control which was first introduced in Microsoft Office 2013. The Timeline filter control enables end users to visually filter Excel PivotTables using fields defined as dates. The Timeline filter has several benefits compared to the traditional Excel dropdown filter. Figure 1 illustrates one of those benefits whereby the Timeline filter allows end-users to easily apply a filter (i.e. using a scroll bar) again a PivotTable. It also has useful annotations that describes what you have filtered on – in this case, we have chosen sales period between February and March 2011.

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Sifiso W. Ndlovu

How to administer SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) subscriptions using PowerShell

January 23, 2017 by

In the article Report Subscription Changes in SQL Server Reporting Services 2016, I covered several changes to standard and data-driven subscriptions that were introduced in the release of SQL Server 2016. However all of those changes related to administering report subscriptions using a GUI (i.e. Report Manager Portal, SSRS Configuration Manager). The release of SQL Server Core, SQL Server on Linux and enhancements on Windows PowerShell, reinforces the growing shift by Microsoft to have SQL Server professionals adopt scripting as one of the ways to carry out their daily tasks. In this article we continue to explore SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) subscription feature by discussing some of the Windows PowerShell commands that can be utilised to administer report subscriptions.

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Craig Porteous

Scaling out Reporting Services & changes in SQL Server 2016

January 18, 2017 by

Scaling out Reporting services to multiple nodes, in itself, is a relatively simple process. It’s when we come to solve problems and investigate performance that we begin to see there is a lot more going on under the hood that’s not clear through implementation. There are also some foundational elements that have changed in SQL 2016 with next to no guidance from Microsoft on the changes.

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Sifiso W. Ndlovu

Report Subscription Changes in SQL Server Reporting Services 2016

December 30, 2016 by

What makes SQL Server 2016 one of my favourite SQL Server release since the release of SQL Server 2012 is the increased number of exciting new features that have been introduced. Whilst my article Top 5 New SQL Server 2016 DMVs for DBAs reviewed some of these new features albeit from a DBA point of view, in this article I continue to review SQL Server 2016 but from the perspective of an SSRS administrator in relation to the changes in report subscriptions.

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Steve Simon

Reporting in SQL Server – Using calculated Expressions within reports

December 19, 2016 by

Introduction

Late in October, I received an unusual request from the head of sales within one of my client sites. Sales sells three articles: bread, perfume and Jaguar motor cars. Now the reader will note that one of these items is a staple and the other two are for those folks with considerable disposable income. Management within the firm had increased the salesmen’s bonuses for those folks that managed to sell perfume and / or Jaguars along with the standard loaves of bread. The summary report may be seen below showing the final bonus rate for each sales order booked during the month.

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