Friday, 29 February 2008

OLAP report BI survey released

The venerable OLAP Report has released the seventh annual BI survey for 2007. The report is reviewed here by Intelligent Enterprise. Not had the opportunity to read it - it's not exactly cheap at $4 995 for three users, hopefully Clarity will see fit to get the credit card out.

Some headlines however; customer 'loyalty' scores increased for Microstrategy, Applix and Microsoft Analysis Services and declined for Hyperion Essbase, Cognos and SAP.

Overall satisfaction with BI is high - 71% of survey respondents reporting that business goals had 'largely' been met.

On the flip-side less than 9% of employees use BI with cost and performance being the biggest obstacles to a wider deployment. 'BI for the masses' not exactly here yet...

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Restating history or "What was the number on this date?"

Interesting article from Joy Mundy here about meeting the need to 'restate' history or do point-in-time analysis from a data warehouse. It involves joining on a business key which might raise a few eyebrows. Not sure how you'd go about doing this in an OLAP tool - a difficutly she highlights herself.

In a recent project I solved a similar problem by loading a snapshot of all relevant facts every day, and doing distinct counts in Analysis Services. A 'snapshot date' dimension allowed for analysis on any given date. This approach worked well because the data-sets were small (only amounting to 2000 rows a day) - Joy's might be a more elegant solution if you have millions of rows to contend with.

Monday, 4 February 2008


Lots of SQL and BI events occuring over the next few months.

First-up is the Gartner Euro BI conference at which there will be a Clarity-Integration stand and some of my colleagues. Not me though unfortunately...

Second is the SQLBits II - The SQL in Birmingham next month. Puns aside its shaping up pretty well with sessions on 2008 as well as some in-depth 2005 sessions with MVPs. Only catch is that its on a Saturday. What gives with that?

Thirdly PASS Europe in April in Germany - not a lot of detail on this at the moment - although a couple of MVP's are doing sessions.

Last but certainly not least is the MS BI conference in Seattle in October. Went to this last year and it was great, with some informative and useful sessions - particularly from SQL CAT - oh and a free trip up the Space Needle courtesy of Panorama wasn't bad either...

More useful blogs

Sometimes it amazes me how much good stuff people in the SQL community are blogging about. I for one have difficulty keeping up with it all. Stumbled across this by Michael Entin none other than the Tech Lead for SSIS - not someone I'd heard of I'm ashamed to say. Anyhoo lots of informative posts particularly about SQL 2008, including one about the improvement in multi-threading execution trees and another about compatability between VS2008/SQL2008 and VS2005/SQL2005 (note - there are limitations).

I found another detailed and interesting post here about Change Data Capture which could be really big news for BI on SQL2008 providing that a) your source system will be migrated onto 2008, and b) you can persuade your source system DBA's to switch it on. One of the major issues frequently encountered working with large source systems is figuring out the delta - ie whats changed since you last did an extract. Change Data Capture (CDC) could be a neat solution. Time to start bending your fellow DBA's ears now..