Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services: Performing Incremental Cube Updates – An Introduction

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.

Overview

Having
processed cubes in preceding articles, we are aware that processing calculates the
aggregations that have been designed for the cube, and then loads the cube with
the data, and the calculated aggregations of the data. While we have looked
only at Full Processing in most of my articles, we will expose other
approaches to processing in this session. We will then focus on the use of a
tool that MSAS provides to help us to exploit one of those options, the incremental
processing
of our cubes.

The
processing of cubes, once we get beyond the basics, is complex subject matter.
Nevertheless, an in-depth grasp of the subject is highly critical to mastering
optimization of our cubes and MSAS in general. For this reason, I will be
spending considerable time within the articles of this series (as well as
articles and columns elsewhere) that address many nuances and approaches to the
tuning of the processing event. Our purpose within this article,
however, is to overview the Incremental Processing Wizard, and, within
that context, the concept of incremental processing.

In
this article, we will introduce the MSAS Incremental Processing Wizard,
whose role is to enable us to perform incremental updates of our cubes, while
helping us to steer clear of some of the dangers that are inherent with incremental
processing. We will first discuss processing in general, and then focus on
incremental processing as a concept within the context of MSAS cubes. Next, we
will perform a hands-on exercise where we incrementally update a copy of one of
the sample cubes that accompany the installation of MSAS.

Our
objective in this article is an overview of the wizard itself; other of my
articles will focus on specific processing strategies and techniques. Within
our exploration of the Incremental Update Wizard, we will accomplish the
following:

  • Create a copy
    of the Budget sample cube for use in our practice exercise.

  • Prepare the
    cube further by processing.

  • Perform a
    practice exercise, using the Incremental Update Wizard, to incrementally
    update
    our practice cube.

  • Examine the
    options that are available to us, as we proceed through the guided steps of the
    Wizard.

  • Confirm our
    understanding of the mechanics behind the action of the Incremental Update
    Wizard
    by examining pre- and post- update values, as a straightforward
    means of verifying that the difference we compute equals the value we
    established to be added via the incremental update.
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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