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SSAS Overview


SSAS Overview

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stephen.salowitz
stephen.salowitz
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Let me start off by admitting I know very little about SSAS. I have been using SQL Server for several years now and and consider myself fairly proficient in t-sql, sp's, functions, SSIS, and SSRS but have never breached SSAS. The company I work for has a standard license for SQL 2k8R2 but does not have SSAS installed yet. My director has given me the green light to build a business case for implementing it. Can you guys (and girls) help me understand what exactly SSAS is and can do for my organization?
Nevyn
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It seems a bit strange to start with learning about a tool, and then using it to define one's needs. Usually people come at it the other way and end up asking how.

In a nutshell, SSAS helps you build business intelligence solutions on top of a data warehouse. These can either be in the form of a traditional OLAP cube (which any number of ad hoc and reporting tools, including excel, can access), or a tabular model, which can be leveraged using sharepoint, excel, and power pivot.

Long story short, it helps you take a LOT of data and build very fast reports and/or ad hoc reporting/analysis capability to decision makers.
Alan.B
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To add Nevyn...

SSAS is one of the three core products that are considered part of what is commonly referred to as the "Microsoft BI Stack". You mentioned SSIS and SSRS; SSAS is the third part of the BI Stack. SSAS is about two things primarily: Analysis and Data mining. With respect to Analysis - you can use SSAS to create a cube. What a cube offers over reports from a data warehouse is the ability to "slice and dice" your data. I have spend a few years do SSRS reports off of cubes and the biggest benefit I have seen is the ability to, instead of creating a bunch of SSRS reports to fullfill every user requirement, create a cube with that multiple several reporting requirements then make that cube available to end users via MS Excel. This give us the ability to deliver meaningful content to end users in a format that they can slice and dice the data however they wish.

If you end up using SSAS for Analysis my advice is to also learn MDX. MDX is an invaluable (and very marketable) skill to have if you are working with SSAS.

-- Alan Burstein



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stephen.salowitz
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Thanks for the info, it was what I was looking for.
Alan.B
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stephen.salowitz (7/9/2014)
Thanks for the info, it was what I was looking for.


No prob. Glad to help!

-- Alan Burstein



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"I can't stress enough the importance of switching from a 'sequential files' mindset to 'set-based' thinking. After you make the switch, you can spend your time tuning and optimizing your queries instead of maintaining lengthy, poor-performing code. " -- Itzek Ben-Gan 2001
stephen.salowitz
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Do you know of any great (online preferably) resources that I can use to learn more about SSAS?
Alan.B
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stephen.salowitz (7/9/2014)
Do you know of any great (online preferably) resources that I can use to learn more about SSAS?


Two key books:
I don't know what version you are considering but the Ultimate Guide to Microsoft BI IMHO is The Microsoft Data Warehouse Toolkit: With SQL Server 2008 R2 and the Microsoft Business Intelligence Toolset. Though it's not specifically about SSAS it puts the who BI stack in Context. Anyone doing BI should study that book to death.

For SSAS specifically: I recommend Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Analysis Services Step by Step It's the best book for SSAS newcomers that I have read. Great tutorials.

Web Sites:
I wish SSC had a stairway to SSAS. The next best thing would be Bill Pearson's Stairway to MDX. Though it's about MDX there's plenty to learn about SSAS in there.

Microsoft Technet / BOL is a solid free resource. Check out: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb500153(v=sql.110).aspx

Other Resources:

SQL PASS, SQL in the City, SQL Saturday and my SQL BI User group have been indispensable.

-- Alan Burstein



Best practices for getting help on SQLServerCentral
Need to split a string? Try DelimitedSplit8K or DelimitedSplit8K_LEAD (SQL 2012+)
Need a pattern-based splitter? Try PatternSplitCM
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"I can't stress enough the importance of switching from a 'sequential files' mindset to 'set-based' thinking. After you make the switch, you can spend your time tuning and optimizing your queries instead of maintaining lengthy, poor-performing code. " -- Itzek Ben-Gan 2001
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