Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services: Distinct Count Basics: Two Perspectives

About the Series …

This
article is a member of the series Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000
Analysis Services
. 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 ("Analysis Services"
or "MSAS").
The same is generally true, except where differences are specifically noted,
when MS Office 2000 and above are used in the environment, in cases
where MS Office components are presented in the article.

Introduction

In this article, we will explore distinct counts, discussing why they
are useful (and often required) within the design of any robust analysis effort.
Throughout this session, we will describe some of the challenges that are
inherent in distinct counts, and then we will undertake practice
exercises to illustrate solutions to meet example business requirements. As a
part of the practical exercises, built around a hypothetical business need, we
will provide an approach afforded us by the MSAS user interface, and then we
will offer an alternative approach using MDX.

We will revisit DISTINCT COUNT at various points in subsequent
articles in our series, examining specifics with regard to appropriate use, and
details of optimization within the perspective under examination in the article
concerned. In this article, we will lay the framework for those specific
scenarios, and discuss the basics of DISTINCT COUNT, together with considerations
that surround its use.

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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