Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services: Another Approach to Local Cube Design and Creation

About the Series …

This
is the twenty-fourth 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, Introduction
to Local Cubes
,
we ventured beyond earlier topics surrounding the retrieval and reporting of
data from a server-based MSAS cube, and transitioned into the realm of
remote, independent OLAP data source design and creation. We explored
approaches to creating local cubes within MS Office, discussing
many of the foundational concepts behind the architecture of multidimensional
data sources, and their creation from an integrated MS Office client
application, Excel. As a part of a hands-on practice exercise, we then
created a local cube from an existing Excel PivotTable report,
sourced initially from an MSAS server-based cube.

We
explored many practical aspects of putting the functionality to work
immediately, discussing ways that local (or "offline") cubes
can meet the business requirements of distributed information consumers, and
add value to the organization in general. Throughout the hands-on practice
exercise we performed, in creating a local cube from an existing server-based
cube, we commented upon the results we obtained, to reinforce our understanding
of the concepts involved.

In
this article, we will explore a second approach to the creation of a local
cube
. While we will rely again upon the PivotTable report as our
design and development tool, this time we will focus more on the use of Microsoft
Query (
"MS Query"), and begin with a relational
database instead of an MSAS server-based cube. We will discuss
advantages in taking this approach and situations for which it is especially
useful. As with the prior article, Introduction to Local Cubes, the intent of this article is to offer options for more
independence from the perspective of the information consumer, as well as to
make the fruits of MSAS OLAP available to enterprise team members
through the conduits of the applications that are pervasive in the desktop
population we find in business today.

In
this lesson, we will:

  • Discuss the
    creation of a local cube from a relational data source;

  • Discuss
    scenarios where starting with a relational source might be advantageous;

  • Discuss how
    the creation of a local cube from a relational data source can be
    used to complement an MSAS implementation;

  • Derive a subset
    of relational data as the basis of our local cube with the Query Wizard;

  • Introduce the OLAP
    Cube Wizard
    , and complete design of our local cube;

  • Discuss the
    results obtained through the various steps of the cube development process in
    our practice exercises.
William Pearson
William Pearson
Bill has been working with computers since before becoming a "big eight" CPA, after which he carried his growing information systems knowledge into management accounting, internal auditing, and various capacities of controllership. Bill entered the world of databases and financial systems when he became a consultant for CODA-Financials, a U.K. - based software company that hired only CPA's as application consultants to implement and maintain its integrated financial database - one of the most conceptually powerful, even in his current assessment, to have emerged. At CODA Bill deployed financial databases and business intelligence systems for many global clients. Working with SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase and Informix, and focusing on MSSQL Server, Bill created Island Technologies Inc. in 1997, and has developed a large and diverse customer base over the years since. Bill's background as a CPA, Internal Auditor and Management Accountant enable him to provide value to clients as a liaison between Accounting / Finance and Information Services. Moreover, as a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) - a Certified Public Accountant recognized for his or her unique ability to provide business insight by leveraging knowledge of information relationships and supporting technologies - Bill offers his clients the CPA's perspective and ability to understand the complicated business implications and risks associated with technology. From this perspective, he helps them to effectively manage information while ensuring the data's reliability, security, accessibility and relevance. Bill has implemented enterprise business intelligence systems over the years for many Fortune 500 companies, focusing his practice (since the advent of MSSQL Server 2000) upon the integrated Microsoft business intelligence solution. He leverages his years of experience with other enterprise OLAP and reporting applications (Cognos, Business Objects, Crystal, and others) in regular conversions of these once-dominant applications to the Microsoft BI stack. Bill believes it is easier to teach technical skills to people with non-technical training than vice-versa, and he constantly seeks ways to graft new technology into the Accounting and Finance arenas. Bill was awarded Microsoft SQL Server MVP in 2009. Hobbies include advanced literature studies and occasional lectures, with recent concentration upon the works of William Faulkner, Henry James, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Honoré de Balzac, and Charles Dickens. Other long-time interests have included the exploration of generative music sourced from database architecture.

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