Blog Post

Book Review: SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services The BISM Tabular Model


I will start off by saying, whenever I see the names Marco Russo, Alberto Ferrari and Chris Webb on a SQL Server Analysis Services book….I know it will good.  This book is no exception!  I can say with 100% honesty that this is one of the best technical books I’ve read.

I work with SQL Server 2012 and am eager to learn more about the tabular model.  When I saw this book on Amazon, I bought it immediately and am so grateful that I did.  I have many technical books that sit on shelves collecting dust; this book is definitely not one of them.  After only a few weeks the book is already showing wear from use and I haven’t put it on the shelf yet.  I have read it cover-to-cover and plan to do so again – it is truly that good.

There are so many great aspects to this book I don’t know where to begin.  I can say that it does an excellent job not only covering the basics but also many advanced topics as well. 

A few of my favorite topics/chapters are listed below:

  • The chapters on DAX are especially helpful, they provide an excellent overview of the language including advanced topics that I haven’t found in other sources. The book also contains a chapter on DAX time intelligence functions which I found quite useful.
  • The ‘Building Hierarchies’ chapter is excellent as well.  It goes beyond the basics, covering more complex scenarios such as parent/child hierarchies and unary operators. 
  • The chapter ‘Data Modeling in Tabular’ provides a very thorough overview of common dimensional modeling topics (Type 1 and Type 2 SCDs, degenerate dimensions, junk dimensions and snapshot fact tables) and implementation best practices in the tabular model. 
  • ‘Using Advanced Tabular Relationships’ is my favorite chapter.  This chapter provides examples using the DAX language to implement more complex scenarios/relationships.  A few topics covered are Multicolumn Relationships  (in a tabular cube a relationship can be set with one column only, but the authors provide examples that work around this limitation), Banding (grouping attribute values), Many-to-Many relationships, Basket Analysis and Currency Conversion.
  • The chapters on Security and Deployment/Processing are also well-written and very thorough.  They cover many scenarios in detail.

The authors do a great job comparing the Multidimensional and Tabular technologies; They discuss the pros and cons of both models as well as reasons you may choose one over the other.  In addition, the authors often demonstrate multiple ways to solve a given problem and discuss the advantages/disadvantages of each implementation.  They provide excellent overviews of performance analysis and troubleshooting and warn the readers of things to avoid.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of the SQL Server Analysis Services 2012 tabular model.  This book will not disappoint.  It is a worthwhile addition to any Business Intelligence practitioners library.

Some additional resources by the authors: