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Posted Sep 22, 2003

Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services: MSAS Administration and Optimization: Simple Cube Usage Analysis - Page 3

By William Pearson

Refining the On-Screen Reports

As we noted in our initial walkthrough of the Usage Analysis Wizard, we are offered an opportunity to filter any report we choose using various offered criteria. Let's examine these criteria and perform a filtering procedure on an illustrative report selection.

1.      Right-mouse on the Sales sample cube.

2.      Select Usage Analysis... from the context menu that appears, as we saw in our walkthrough above.

The Welcome to the Usage Analysis Wizard dialog appears.

This time, we will select the Query by Hour Graph, as shown in Illustration 7.

Illustration 7: Our Selection: The Query by Hour Graph

3.      Select the Query by Hour Graph report.

4.      Click Next.

The Select the Criteria to Filter This Report dialog appears.

As we have discovered, we are offered an opportunity to set criteria for filtering the results that are returned for query usage analysis in the report we have specified in the previous dialog. By setting filter criteria, we are able to place restrictions on the data that is returned, via the Usage Analysis Wizard, from the query log, which is the source of the cube data we are analyzing (we will discuss the log, and mention other options for its use, in our next session together). Available filter criteria, and a brief description of what each entails, are included in Table 2.

Filter Criteria


Queries for the dates

Select this criteria item to apply date filters. Select Between (the default, if this criteria item is activated), Before or After, then supply the date(s) as appropriate. Date selection is assisted by the presence of the calendar control, which is activated by clicking the ellipses (...) button.

Queries by these users

Select this item to add users / groups of users to a list, upon which the filter is based.

NOTE: User Roles must be defined before the Add button will deliver any but the Everyone selection. Filtering by users is ineffective until User Roles are defined.

Queries that ran more than

Select this item to filter by a number of times a query has been executed. Only queries that have been executed more than the selected frequency threshold are returned in the report.

Queries that took longer than

Select this item to report only queries whose run times exceeded the time threshold (number of minutes / seconds) input.

Table 2: Filter Criteria Available in the Usage Analysis Wizard

As we noted earlier, this step is optional. The report we selected in the previous dialog will be returned with no filters if we simply leave the criteria boxes in the dialog unchecked / uncompleted, and proceed by clicking Next.

5.      Select the Queries That Ran More Than option by clicking the checkbox to its left.

6.      Select 6 in the "times" selector box.

We have indicated that we wish to limit the Query by Hour Graph report to include only those queries that have been executed more than six times, as depicted in Illustration 8.

Illustration 8: The Select the Criteria to Filter This Report Dialog with Our Selection

7.      Click Next.

The viewer appears, displaying the Query by Hour Graph report, as shown in Illustration 9.

Illustration 9: The Filtered Query by Hour Graph Report in the Viewer

The Query by Hour Graph report displays, after filtering out queries that have been executed 6 times or less, the total number of queries processed. The queries are grouped and displayed by the respective hours of day at which they were processed. Even though the example display in Illustration 9 displays minimal data, we can still get a feel for how the results are presented. (Keep in mind that your results may differ dramatically, depending on the history of the cube upon which you run the Usage Analysis Wizard.)

8.      Click Finish to close the wizard, and to return to the Analysis Manager console.

In Search of More Sophisticated Approaches to Utilization Analysis

I often receive e-mails and calls from clients, as well as from members of my general audience, asking how they can approach the creation of a more sophisticated report to assist in their usage analysis pursuits. This is sometimes based upon a need to create a report similar to the pre-defined, on-screen reports, but in a way that allows for printing, publishing to the web, or otherwise delivering report results to information consumers. Moreover, some users simply want to be able to design different reports that they can tailor themselves, to meet specific needs not addressed by the Usage Analysis Wizard's relatively simple offerings. Others want a combination of these capabilities, and / or simply do not like the rather basic user interface that the wizard presents, as it is relatively awkward, does not scale and so forth.

All of these needs can be met in numerous ways, including the use of multiple external reporting options. In our next lesson, we will take a look at approaches to the need for more sophisticated analysis, exposing the data source itself, and how we might access it in addressing these needs.

Summary ...

In this lesson, Simple Cube Usage Analysis, we introduced the topic of usage analysis for our multidimensional cubes, and discussed its importance as a contributor to performance enhancement. We contrasted the Usage Analysis Wizard with the Usage-Based Optimization Wizard, and then focused on the Usage Analysis Wizard as a "quick and dirty" means of viewing cube processing activity statistics in both development and production. Next, we modified an illustrative standard report, examining options for how we can tailor our selections to meet our needs more closely.

Our hands-on examination of the Usage Analysis Wizard in its simplest form, together with a discussion of the somewhat limited on-screen report set it offers, undoubtedly leads the experienced developer and operator to foresee the inevitable need to extend our reporting capabilities for various business reasons. In our next lesson, we will examine the source of cube performance statistics; we will expose ways that we can directly obtain more detailed information surrounding cube processing events in a manner that allows more sophisticated selection and filtering. Furthermore, we will discuss options for more customized reporting of these metrics, as well as a wider range of delivery choices.

» See All Articles by Columnist William E. Pearson, III

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