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MS SQL Server Analysis Services

Investments in line-of-business applications frequently lead to reams of disconnected business data that is difficult to correlate and analyze. Traditional approaches to building forward-looking business decision-support systems include: swapping one relational reporting system for another, extracting and transforming the data and building a data warehouse (ETL), or purchasing a new BI application on the promise of more robust reporting. 

Too often however, these approaches can be very expensive with unpredictable results. Excel pivot tables can often be just as effective, but complex Excel-based systems are difficult to maintain, and do not scale well for most data gathering and deployment needs.

Microsoft® SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) provides a unified, fully-integrated view of your business data to support online analytical processing (OLAP), key performance indicators (KPI), and powerful data mining capabilities. SQL Server Analysis Services greatly reduces the amount of effort required to integrate data from multiple applications into a consistent format, analyze data from a variety of sources, report against this data using a variety of formats and techniques, mine the data for relationships, or forecast future results with predictive analytics. Practical Computer Applications (PCA) provides SQL Server Analysis Services consulting, design and development services to help you create a reliable and cost-effective approach to analyzing your business data.

Reporting Options – Increasing level of capabilities ————->

SQL Reporting Services
Pivot Grids (Smart Clients) SQL Analysis Services
Developer-defined (canned)
User-defined (ad hoc) User-defined (ad hoc)
Data View 
“Flat” view of data
Group. Sort. Filter. Aggregate. “Correlative” view of data
Track historical performance
Narrow view of data to areas of interest Find causation, predict likely outcomes based upon patterns and trends
Identify variations from pre-defined goals (KPIs)
Discover relationships and dependencies Indicate where things are heading, and provide supporting criterion

Simple, Integrated View of Data

Most businesses maintain a number of separate applications for such functions as enterprise resource planning (ERP), CRM, SCM, Inventory, Human Resources, Accounting and so on — all from separate vendors with different terminology, data schemas, and database engines. Business decision makers however need to view the data from all these sources in order to make informed decisions. Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services addresses this challenge through the use of Data Source Views that allow the creation of analytical models against existing data structures. Unified Dimensional Models and Perspectives create a single version of the truth and expose it as virtual data marts to individual departments.

Intelligent View of Data

Most warehousing tools today build rigid hierarchical structures to allow analysts and knowledge workers to drill up and down into the data. While powerful, drilling up and down is not the only form of analysis that can be performed. Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services allows businesses to build solutions that support flexible hierarchies, many-to-many relationships, and other dimension types that allow for more advanced analytics than are available in traditional solutions.

Localized Analytics Experience

Businesses with operations that span languages must consolidate data into a single language and currency in order for analysis to be valid, but this makes it more difficult for organizations worldwide to use the solution. Thanks to a feature called Translations, Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services lets companies build a single solution that can localize values on the fly depending on the user’s location.

Real-Time BI

Most business intelligence and data warehousing solutions are snapshots in time that are updated nightly or weekly.  Real-time BI solutions exist but they tend to be very slow compared to snapshots. Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services gives businesses the ability to have real time or near real time BI capabilities with snapshot-like speeds and minimal impact on production systems. To present this data to the end users PCA uses the powerful data visualization tools available in programs like Excel 2010 and Tableau that interface well with Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services.  Read about Excel 2010 and Analysis Services. Read about Tableau Consulting.