BI Data Source – SSAS

Well now.  It turns out that PerformancePoint for SharePoint has quite a few nifty little features (after reading the help topics on the blank PerformancePoint site), but to work with it properly I need to have some data in a SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) Cube.  Since we are still in the stone ages and running on SQL Server 2008 R2 (hey, at least we moved to R2 last year), I will need to get some reasonably slice-and-diceable data in there at first.  I have an excellent sample dataset comprising the last 2 years of Head Count data (i.e. number of people who work here).  This can be sliced by State, District, Top level Manager, HQ or Not, and Location.

So, before I can start dashboarding, I have to do some ETL to get our sooooo not-in-star-schema raw data cleaned and into the Cube.  Since our data lives in Oracle, I will  shunt it to a SQL Server database first.  For this, I will use the Attunity drivers.  If you haven’t heard of these, and you work with SSIS and Oracle (or Teradata), you should look into them.  They’re from Microsoft, they’re free and they work in 2008 and 2012.  They are 10-50 times faster than Oracle’s drivers and Microsoft’s Oracle drivers.

Meanwhile, I installed the Dundas Dashboard software on my local machine so that I could check it out.  The install went fine, it created a SQL Server instance for itself and setup the tools as expected.  There are a ton of additional features (most of which I installed) and add-ons (none of which I installed – yet).

I also installed the free MicroStrategy Analytics Desktop.  Turns out this is a web app so it installed locally on port 8082.  Interesting.

So, once I’ve moved the Headcount Data into the Cube, I can try out the Dashboarding in PerformancePoint, Dundas and MicroStrategy to see what’s what.

On a Different Track

The other thing I am working on is presentation of BI data.

Our current toolset is the Microsoft stack:

  • SQL Server 2008 R2 (I know, I know, it’s 2014 already, sheesh!)
  • SSAS
  • PowerPivot
  • Excel 2010 (yes, it is 2014…  the wheels on the bus move a little slower here)
  • SharePoint 2010 (I know again)
  • PerformancePoint
  • PowerPivot Gallery

PerformancePoint offers a Dashboard Designer, which I am experimenting with now.  I will let you know how that goes.

Getting the Mobile SDK’s

I’m not sure I need to do this, but I have undertaken the effort to download the Win 7 and 8 SDKs, Android SDK and iPad SDK.

The Win 7 SDK was easy to find.

The Win 8 SDK was also easy to find but needs Win8 and I am still on Win7.

The Android SDK was even easier to find (but can you say, “Hello Java” — See my posting about my Java experience here).

I knew it would be a PITA, but the Apple iOS SDK is a much bigger deal to get.  First off, I need a Mac.  Yeuch.