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MS SQL

Posted May 17, 2004

Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services: Introduction to Local Cubes

By William Pearson

About the Series ...

This is the twenty-third article of the series, Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services. As I stated in the first article, Creating Our First Cube, the primary focus of this series is an introduction to the practical creation and manipulation of multidimensional OLAP cubes. The series is designed to provide hands-on application of the fundamentals of MS SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services, with each installment progressively adding features and techniques designed to meet specific real - world needs. For more information on the series, as well as the hardware / software requirements to prepare for the exercises we will undertake, please see my initial article, Creating Our First Cube.

Note: Service Pack 3 updates are assumed for MSSQL Server 2000, MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services, and the related Books Online and Samples. Images are from a Windows 2003 Server environment, upon which I have also implemented MS Office 2003, but the steps performed in the articles, together with the views that result, will be quite similar within any environment that supports MSSQL Server 2000 and MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services ("MSAS") (and uses MS Office 2000 and above, in cases where MS Office components are presented in the article.)

Introduction

In our last article, Actions in Virtual Cubes, we extended the examination of Actions that we began in the article before it, Putting Actions to Work in Regular Cubes, to the creation and use of Actions within virtual cubes. After considering the differences between regular and virtual cube scenarios, we created an Action in a sample virtual cube we cloned from an existing sample. We then performed the import of an example Action into our cloned virtual cube. Throughout the hands-on practice exercises, we commented upon the results we obtained, to reinforce our understanding of the concepts involved.

In this article, we will look beyond the confines of Analysis Manager to introduce the creation and use of local cubes with Microsoft Office 2003 ("MS Office"). In conjunction with MSAS, we will overview the concepts involved with our topic, and then we will "drill down" into the practical aspects involved in putting the functionality to work immediately. This offers us an opportunity to explore the integration of MSAS OLAP with MS Office, a topic that is highly valuable to the business community. While continuing to work with the Analysis Server, we will examine, in this and the subsequent article, ways that we can conduct much design and development outside MSAS and within MS Office.

This article will focus upon the creation of a local cube from an existing Excel PivotTable report. In the article that follows this one, we will shift gears and explore a more MSAS-centric route, through the use of the OLAP Cube Wizard, to accomplish cube creation in a more flexible manner. The intent of these articles is not to demonstrate making us independent of MSAS within the creation phase, but to offer options for more independence from the perspective of the information consumer. The objective is also to make the fruits of MSAS OLAP available to enterprise team members through the conduits of applications that are pervasive in the desktop population we find in business today.

In this lesson, we will:

  • Introduce local cubes, discussing how they differ from server-based cubes (the focus of virtually all the articles in this series so far), and some scenarios in which they are appropriate;
  • Create a local cube from an existing server-based cube;
  • Discuss design and deployment considerations, and the advantages and other value that local cubes can provide the organization, both as remote production data sources and as development prototypes.


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