Thanks for the informative intro. It couldn't have come at a better time for me, as I'm evaluating BI analysis and reporting tools. I've looked at QlikView, Tableau, Tibco Spotfire, and MicroStrategy ReportingSuite, along with PowerPivot. I want to get a working demo environment for PowerPivot set up, and I'm wondering if you can tell me a bit more about the SQL Server 2008 R2 November Community Technical Preview (CTP) requirment, specifically, is it really necessary? If the client is in Excel, and it has the capability to connect to multiple data sources, what capability does R2 deliver/add to the app?
It's funny that the only comment (so far) is about this, as I was just coming to say "hey, I didn't have to tell it where my R2 server was anywhere". So hopefully that answers your question. I installed Office 2010 Beta, the PowerPivot add-in, and pointed it at a couple of my existing SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services cubes, and was off and running. I did get an error about one of the cubes saying that there weren't any cubes in it, in spite of the fact that I could connect to it via the normal Pivot Table interface.
I don't think anything I did was actually PowerPivot based (as in requiring the extra layer of the query results pulled from SSAS), but I'll tinker more and find out.
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One thing to keep in mind: we are still in Beta, so as much as you might want to show this to your users (I know I do!), consider who might lose their enthusiasm if your workbook crashes.
George-W feel free to contact me since we're in about the same boat. Use the personal message feature or whatever.