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Business Intelligence 201

2012/10/19

SQL Server MVP Deep Dives 2, Chapter 60

BI Solution Development Design Considerations- by Siddharth Mehta (B|T)

This is the first chapter in Deep Dives V2 that I read which felt like I was reading a textbook. I really wanted this chapter to be something I could hand to a manager, DBA, or developer who hadn’t worked on a Business Intelligence project and they would come away with a good understanding of what it was and all of the pieces needed to build it. Essentially I wanted something the me from 3 years ago could have read and not have to learn everything on the job.

Figure 1 Typical BI design for an OLTP-to-dashboard solution from Chapter 60 of SQL Server MVP Deep Dives V2

Siddharth comes close to that, but there is no story to follow;  just dry facts. Also there are many terms and concepts that are hard to follow if you have not worked in BI already. He mentions the Kimball and Inmon Data Warehouse methodologies a couple of times without really providing any reference. The first part of the chapter outlines the pieces of a BI solution as shown in the diagram above and then he moves on to discuss how these pieces can be built using components of Microsoft SQL Server (SSIS = ETL, SSRS = reporting, etc).

Don’t get me wrong there is a lot of information that me from three years ago would get out of this chapter. He points readers to some great tools out on Codeplex like the BIDS Helper and Custom SSIS tasks. These are not items I knew about when I started working with SSIS and I didn’t discover them for some time. He also points out an add on for SSRS called SCRUBS , but I am not sure the community addition was updated for SQL Server 2008 R2. It is my own fault for dragging these reviews out so long that some items are becoming dated, but luckily there are great folks in the community like Rick Krueger (B|T) and Dave Valentine (B|T) who have put together a tool for Reporting on Reports which does work for 2008 R2 and will soon work with 2012.

The sections he outlines as Design Challenges were the most helpful in my opinion because they acknowledge some of the scenarios that can come up when building a Data Warehouse. In each phase of building this solution he discusses the importance of getting the design correct. He lists dashboard devlopment separately from reporting and he has a good definition of what a dashboard is. As well as a good caution against adding all the fancy gauges and charts unless they actually mean something. 

If you are new to BI development this deep dive might be a good place to start. It is well written, but it would probably flow better if it was describing a real world example. Everything is discussed in the abstract and it would be hard to picture if you haven’t worked with the concepts and tools of BI before.

Chapter Sixty SQL Server MVP:

Siddharth Mehta (B|T) is a business intelligence professional with more than nine years of experience. He presently works in the role of a technology architect for  Accenture Services Pvt. Ltd.(Mumbai, India), in the capacity of associate manager. He’s known for his writing in the field of Microsoft business intelligence. He authored a whitepaper for MSDN Library titled “Bulk Report Generation Using SSIS and SSRS 2008 R2.” He continues authoring content on MS BI for community sites like MSSQLTips.com, SQLServerCentral.com, SQL-Server-Performance.com, and others. 

If you are considering purchasing SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2 you can get a copy at Manning Books.  I don’t get anything out of it if you buy the book, but you might.

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