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Can anyone let me know why not so many companies choose SSAS for data analysis and base layer for...


Can anyone let me know why not so many companies choose SSAS for data analysis and base layer for dashboard?

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david.hao
david.hao
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I kept tracking the job market and noticed not a lot of company developed their DW with the use of analysis service (5% of jobs requires the skills of ssas/mdx). Seems most professional would like to retrieve data directly from relational database/datawarehouse tables. Am I correct?
GSquared
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SSAS is a service for data warehousing.

Pre-aggregation of measures along dimensions makes querying the data faster. Dimensional cubes instead of normalized tables make analyzing the data more efficient and flexible.

Yes, some data analysis is done from more normalized relational databases, but a lot of serious BI work is done in analytical cubes. SSAS happens to be Microsoft's version of that.

Ever worked with Excel pivot tables/charts? Analysis Services makes that kind of thing efficient even on some very large datasets. Allows BI analysts and/or managers to look at all kinds of slices of the data, often in ways nobody ever anticipated, and find useful information that way.

For example, one company I worked for, in a very competitive market, we did some serious analysis of our order processing line, using cubes generated from our CRM, our ERP system, our order-tracking system, and a few other systems just for the heck of it. Found ways to cut order processing time by 3 days (from 7 to 4). Gave us a huge competitive edge over the whole market. 25% increase in sales just because of that one factor.

Would have been possible to do this from the disparate data sources, but would have required a lot more time and effort to accomplish, and with less likelihood of noting a few key measures if we hadn't had the right SCDs and KPIs in those cubes.

Same cubes allowed us to cut a few significant overhead costs per-order, without anything but changing a few minor details of the workflow. Nothing obvious to even pros in efficiency, etc., but easy enough to find through the right SSAS cubes. Measurable increase in profitability per order. The owners invested that back into the business, to very good results.

That's why SSAS. More companies want that kind of result.

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david.hao
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Appreciate for your quick reply. I agree with the power brought by SSAS but just wondering the low marketshare by SSAS. Maybe it is because its dashboard tool, Excel and SSRS, do not provide funcy features, like others. But I think you are right, Excel could provide a dynamic report by its user (users can manipulate what they want to see). I am pretty interested in your story on improving sales using cubes. Maybe you can share your story of how the factor was detected from cubes some day. Thanks again for your inputs, GSquared.
sqlvogel
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david.hao (8/7/2012)
I agree with the power brought by SSAS but just wondering the low marketshare by SSAS.


Low market share? That's a difficult thing to quantify in a useful way. Gartner puts Microsoft 5th in its league table of BI vendors, with a 8.7% share. That's based on revenue however. Some of the other vendors in the table have prices that are significantly higher than Microsoft's BI offering and so the 8.7% probably underestimates Microsoft's presence if you want to measure unit sales or number of installations.

Stats based on job postings are hard to interpret as an indication of market share. The term "data warehousing" is often used very broadly to cover a range of business analysis, data integration, database development and reporting functions associated with BI. On a large data warehouse / BI project team even if SSAS is being used there may only be a small number of job roles that actually require SSAS or MDX skills.
herladygeekedness
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sqlvogel (8/7/2012)
david.hao (8/7/2012)
I agree with the power brought by SSAS but just wondering the low marketshare by SSAS.


Low market share? That's a difficult thing to quantify in a useful way. Gartner puts Microsoft 5th in its league table of BI vendors, with a 8.7% share. That's based on revenue however. Some of the other vendors in the table have prices that are significantly higher than Microsoft's BI offering and so the 8.7% probably underestimates Microsoft's presence if you want to measure unit sales or number of installations.

Stats based on job postings are hard to interpret as an indication of market share. The term "data warehousing" is often used very broadly to cover a range of business analysis, data integration, database development and reporting functions associated with BI. On a large data warehouse / BI project team even if SSAS is being used there may only be a small number of job roles that actually require SSAS or MDX skills.


I agree. trying to explain the market by way of job postings is going to yield very low reliability. Too many job postings are written by HR, who would generally not know SSAS from SAP.

The job I'm in now, we are a tiny dept (I am the only tech, 2 other + boss are business side). For me, DW/BI are one and the same job but in larger companies, an ETL developer would not need to know SSAS skills and vice versa. Lucky me, I get to do both roles.

I think that the bottom line is that every company has its own needs and those needs will vary widely. In a larger company, I would have a smaller width of responsibilities while at this small shop, I get to take it from start to finish.

Gartner is reliable in gathering info while job postings are really a crap shoot in doing anything other than guaging what is happening in your neck of the woods.
chris.ross 34852
chris.ross 34852
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A gartner report is very useful to evaluate the presence of MS in the market but not of OLAP/MDX within any vendors BI stack. I don't the the questions is MS vs non-MS but rather MDX vs SQL as the primary tool in serving up data to a BI app (but correct me if I'm not reading the question right.)

If that's the question than the job market is a much better indication of SSAS use than any market share report. Especially since you can't really buy SQL without SSAS and vice-a-versa.

I actually believe SSAS is well under-utilized but base it on the fact that most BI app vendors do not have TRUE native functionality for building reports on top of cubes (eg, SSRS, MicroStrategy, and most Mobile BI platforms besides roambi.) And by TRUE native functionally I mean that a report is designed to query a cube directly (as can be done in excel through a pivot table or the GetPivotData formulas) rather than returning the data to a tabular form and then serving it up for the report.

The fact that SSRS returns data from a cubes in tabular form for use in reports is astounding to me!

In any case, great question!
Chris
jcraigue@cox.net
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Correctly configured, SSAS is capable of giving you answers in a fraction of the time a SQL query will, and (correctly configured) can answer questions that would require extensive coding in SQL.

So the short answer to your question is 'no'.

The longer answer is, as always, 'it depends' Smile

Once you get SSAS up and running correctly, you'll never want to go backwards, for most analysis chores anyway.
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