Business Intelligence

Craig Porteous

Top 10 things you must document in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)

February 26, 2018 by

Documentation is never fun. I curse having to do it and I curse the person who didn’t do it. It’s a no-win situation.

Luckily I don’t want to tell you to write long documents for setting up or maintaining Reporting Services or creating reports etc. This is more about the main aspects of SSRS that you should be keeping a backup of or maintaining to make your life (and other people’s lives) easier in future. I’ll keep your typing to a minimum.

Read more »
Thomas LeBlanc

How to create Intermediate Measures in Analysis Services (SSAS)

February 19, 2018 by

The whole premise of Analysis Services (SSAS) is to place business logic into a central repository (a database). This central repository should be easy to understand from the average reporting user. Simplicity for SSAS databases starts with the Dimension and Fact tables in a data mart or data warehouse. These tables need to have as little additional computed columns as necessary. With this design, adding additional Measures to the SSAS database, both Multidimensional Cubes, and Tabular Models, can help with performance monitoring of the company’s indicators.

Read more »
Craig Porteous

Migrating SSRS content with PowerShell

January 29, 2018 by

With a distinct lack of up-to-date, fully featured or built-in options to get Reporting Services content cleanly from A to B, it can often be a challenging task maintaining proper Development and QA environments or even moving reports from a SharePoint integrated installation to a native mode one, and vice versa.

I want to explore the two most efficient methods of bulk-migrating Reporting Services content & also explore other options I’ve used over the years and those that have come and gone.

Read more »
Sifiso W. Ndlovu

How to plot a SQL Server 2017 graph database using PowerBI

January 9, 2018 by

In the article How to plot a SQL Server 2017 graph database using SQL Server R, I highlighted the lack of built-in graph data visualisation as one major limitation of the SQL Server 2017 graph database feature. In the same article, I went on to suggest making use of SQL Server R as one workaround that could be utilised in order to successfully plot and visualise diagrams out of SQL Server 2017 graph database objects. However, whilst 3rd party graph database vendors such as Neo4j provide an interactive and hyperlinked graph diagrams that allows you to – amongst other things – easily drilldown and identify node-relationships as indicated in Figure 1, the graph plotted using SQL Server R is not very interactive in fact it is simply a static image file as shown in Figure 2.

Read more »
Daniel Calbimonte

How to create Excel reports based on SSAS information

December 18, 2017 by

Introduction

In SSAS, when I offer Power BI, Reporting Services, PowerPivot or SharePoint to connect to SSAS, the business analysts look scared. On the other hand, if I talk about MS Excel, everybody seems so happy and comfortable with it.

Excel is still the most popular spreadsheet in the world even when there are a lot of free spreadsheets like OpenOffice and LibreOffice to download, in the BI world, Excel is still the most popular.

Read more »
Daniel Calbimonte

How to build a cube from scratch using SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS)

December 11, 2017 by

Introduction

I am a DBA consultant and several times, in the past, I have been asked for a good tool to generate fast reports to get information about the company like total sales, sales per year, month, week etc

SSAS is a Business Intelligence (BI) technology that Microsoft bought from Panorama Software in 1996. After the acquisition, the technology was upgraded and evolved and now it is part of the tools that come with SQL Server. This tool is an extremely powerful tool to create analytical reports fast. It works with cubes that are designed to generate reports with optimal performance using aggregated information stored in the cube.

Read more »
Craig Porteous

How to manage Power BI dataset refresh failures

November 30, 2017 by

As I covered in a previous post How to connect to (and query) Power BI and Azure using PowerShell, Power BI can be difficult to manage and administer, unlike on-premises BI solutions. One such concern that will often require quick action is the failure of a dataset refresh.

If your reports and dashboards all rely on live connection or DirectQuery data sources like Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Data Warehouse or SQL Server Analysis Services (on-premises or in Azure) then you won’t have to worry about dataset refreshes and this post will just be some interesting reading.

Read more »
Marko Zivkovic

How to import data from an Excel file to a SQL Server database

November 10, 2017 by

There are many ways to import data from an Excel file to a SQL Server database using:

In this article, steps for importing data from an Excel file to a SQL Server database will be explained using the SQL Server Import and Export Wizard including some of problems that can occur during the processes.

Read more »
Thomas LeBlanc

Managing A Slowly Changing Dimension in SQL Server Integration Services

October 10, 2017 by

A data warehouse has to be historically correct. This becomes an issue when data like the Product List Price for a previous year needs to be saved historically. Dimensional Modeling methodologies provide a solution for the situation. The Slowly Changing method integrated with components from SQL Server Integration Services solves the issue. This article will look at updating a product dimension table using the Slowly Changing Type 2 Dimension while maintaining the Type 1 columns.

Read more »
Sifiso W. Ndlovu

How to replace hardcoded lookups using SQL Server Master Data Services

September 14, 2017 by

Introduction

A big part of the technical debt in my organization’s data warehouse (DW) and business intelligence (BI) environments relates to hardcoded lookup data. This is data required by the business to make sense of transactional data but was never planned for in the underlying source system and consequently get injected into DW and BI solutions. Inevitably, it is only a matter of time before DW and BI team lose track of the places wherein the hardcoded data reside thus making it difficult to maintain. Furthermore, due to lack of documentation or staff retention, anyone who subsequently takes over these DW/BI solutions can unknowingly create duplicate lookup data. In this article, I explain how we reduced such technical debt in my organization by moving most of the hardcoded lookups into SQL Server Master Data Services (MDS).

Read more »
Craig Porteous

How to connect to (and query) Power BI and Azure using PowerShell

September 13, 2017 by
Power BI “as a whole” is a bit of a black box. If you’re like me and used to using SQL Server & its components; SSRS, SSAS etc. you have access to installation directories, Event logs, trace logs, error logs, chocolate logs? You can see full instances & their contents in one go, whether that be databases, reports or cubes. It gives you the control over & responsibility for performance & maintenance.Read more »
Thomas LeBlanc

Using Many-to-Many Relationships in SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) 2016

September 7, 2017 by

The Multidimensional Cube option of Analysis Services has handled many-to-many relationships with ease for many versions before 2016. The Tabular had a work around using DAX formulas until the release of SQL Server 2016. There are still some limitations to many-to many in Tabular but of course, there are some “tricks” to overcome the limitations. But, the many-to-many relationship will be in businesses data for many years to come. A solution has to be provided when it comes to Analysis Service databases.

Read more »
Minette Steynberg

Introduction to Azure SQL Data Warehouse

August 29, 2017 by

Introduction

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a new addition to the Azure Data Platform. When I first heard about it I wasn’t quite sure about what exactly it would be. As it turns out it is relational database for large amounts of database and really big queries as a service. This is essentially the equivalent of the APS (Analytics Platform System) in the cloud.

Read more »
Thomas LeBlanc

Analysis Services (SSAS) Tabular Models – Attributes and Measures

August 14, 2017 by

In this article, a demonstration of the tabular model will try to related multidimensional cube design to the path forward Microsoft is giving used s with new versions of Analysis Services. Even though the descriptive names are changing, the tabular model still accomplishes the centralized business rules multidimensional cubes gave the business intelligence world. This is enforced by speed obtained from in-memory technology and simplification of the interface for the masses.

Read more »
Sifiso W. Ndlovu

Using SSIS ForEach Loop containers to process files in Date Order

August 3, 2017 by

One positive thing to come out of my recent project that involved rewriting one of the Data Marts from our Data Warehouse environment was a confirmation of my suspicions with regards to the behavior of SQL Server Integration Services’ (SSIS) ForEach Loop Container. You see, I have long suspected that the ForEach File Enumerator type in SSIS’s ForEach Loop Container does not process time stamped text files in an order that could be deemed correct to the human eye. For instance, Figure 1 shows a list of text files containing data relating to Marital Statuses of FIFA 2016 Ballon D’Or nominees.

Read more »
Craig Porteous
C:\Users\craig.CRAIGFLIX\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\SSMS_17.png

What’s New in Reporting Services (SSRS) 2017

July 26, 2017 by

To further the discussion related to Mohamed’s post on Reporting Services 2016 What’s new in SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services (SSRS), I wanted to cover the new features and functionality we see in Reporting Services 2017 as RC1 was released last week SQL Server 2017 Reporting Services Release Candidate now available, separately from SQL Server 2017 which reached RC1 a few days prior.

Read more »
Thomas LeBlanc

Analysis Services (SSAS) Cubes – Dimension Attributes and Hierarchies

July 5, 2017 by

In Data Warehouse language, slicing and dicing is done with Dimension Attributes. Sometime a developer feels the need to provide everything to end users, whereas seasoned Business Intelligence Architects understand to provide only the attributes from the requirements. It is a hard path to follow and the seasoned architect’s experience might be the better option.

Read more »
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.

Read more »
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.

Read more »