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James Serra's Blog

James is a big data and data warehousing technology specialist at Microsoft. He is a thought leader in the use and application of Big Data technologies, including MPP solutions involving hybrid technologies of relational data, Hadoop, and private and public cloud. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence architect and developer. He is a prior SQL Server MVP with over 30 years of IT experience. James is a popular blogger ( and speaker, having presented at dozens of PASS events including the PASS Business Analytics conference and the PASS Summit. He is the author of the book “Reporting with Microsoft SQL Server 2012”. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Benefits of using views in a BI solution

Using SQL Server views throughout a Business Intelligence (BI) solution can provide a tremendous amount of benefits.  Here is a list of such benefits, taken in large part from the excellent video SQLBI Methodology by Marco Russo and Alberto Ferrari:

Benefit of views

  • Can be modified by anyone, even outside of BIDS/SSDT
  • Can provide default values when needed
  • Simple computation can be carried out by views
  • Renaming fields leads to better understanding of the flow
  • Can present a star schema, even if the underlying structure is much more complex
  • Can be analyzed by third-party tools to get dependency tracking
  • Can be optimized without ever opening BIDS/SSDT
  • For security reasons, to limit the rows retrieved by joining with a security table

Benefit of views in SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS):

  • Simpler code inside SSIS packages
  • No need to open the package to understand what it is reading
  • Easily query the database for debugging purposes
  • Query optimizations can be carried out separately

Benefit of views in SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS):

  • Renaming database columns to SSAS attributes
  • Clearly exposing all the transformations to DBA
  • Simplifying handling of fast variations
  • Full control on JOINs sent to SQL Server
  • Exposing a start schema, even if the underlying structure is not a simple star schema


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