Chris Webb's BI Blog

Analysis Services, MDX, PowerPivot, DAX and anything BI-related

Archive for November 2009

Quest add support for SSAS monitoring

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Something I saw yesterday at PASS: Quest now have support for monitoring SSAS from their “Spotlight on SQL Server Enterprise” product. See

It’s pretty basic at the moment – they capture some Perfmon counters and data from schema rowsets, but no trace data – and nowhere near as sophisticated as what SQLSentry have, but it’s good to see another vendor entering this market.

Written by Chris Webb

November 5, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Posted in Analysis Services

Live Blogging @PASS – SQL Server BI in the Cloud

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Some notes/thoughts while I’m listening to John Welch’s session here at PASS on “SQL Server BI in the Cloud”. The room is packed… full marks to John for picking such a hot topic to speak on!

  • Summary of reasons why the cloud is interesting for BI – easy scaling, setup, sizing etc.
  • Distinction between ‘virtualised’ and ‘hosted’ services.
    • Virtualised = pay on usage, instant scale, reduced scaling concerns
    • Hosted = buy a set capacity
  • Azure – making the point that, unlike most other cloud offerings, you can leverage your existing (SQL Server) skills
  • Notes that other parts of the BI stack, apart from the relational engine, have been promised for the future. My feeling is that when/if SSAS in the cloud appears, it’s more likely to be PowerPivot in the cloud; note also that SSRS in the cloud has kind of already appeared with Access Services.
  • BI scenarios not really considered so far by the Azure team. I echo John’s response of “Why???”
  • Description of the Azure architecture. I was talking to someone last night about the way Azure requires use of SQL authentication (which MS have discouraged us from using for years!); SSAS of course only supports Windows authentication, which would be a problem for SSAS in the cloud, so I wonder if in the future we’ll get username/password authentication for SSAS?
  • Limitations of Azure: 10Gb max data, query limit of 5 minutes, insert/update slow. Though for some, smaller, short-lived BI solutions Azure is a perfectly good solution; sharding is an option too.
  • Shows SSRS (locally) working against data from Azure. Works better in CTP2 but still occasional bug.
  • Before the presentation started I asked John if he’d tried using SSAS in ROLAP mode against Azure; he said he had and it worked, but it was v. slow (as you’d expect).
  • Using SSAS in MOLAP mode, since processing queries are v. slow and there’s a query timeout of 5 mins, you need to create lots of small partitions  to ensure processing queries finish as quickly as possible. Proactive caching can’t use automatic notifications.
  • SSIS out of the box support coming in R2. At the moment, SSIS doesn’t support bulk insert operations to ADO.Net destinations. 

Written by Chris Webb

November 4, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Posted in Cloud

Live Blogging @PASS – Master Data Services

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I’m currently in John McAllister’s session on Master Data Services at the PASS Summit, and here are some notes…

  • The first public beta is due next week
  • MDS is will be packaged with 2008 R2 (rather than Sharepoint), be on the DVD but not part of the main install
  • Will have an API – everything you can do in the UI, you can do in the API
  • Although it’s part of SQL Server it will still rely on Sharepoint for workflow; the main, web-based UI is not Sharepoint-based though
  • Has simple business rule validation capabilities, eg make sure that the list price of a product is greater than its cost
  • Includes basic documentation features
  • Also has auditing features – you can see every transaction ever made in the system, reverse changes made and so on
  • Models are containers for different types of data (products, customers); every model can have a version, and versions can be locked, open for editing etc; models can also be secured
  • Also has basic notification features, so users/groups can get emails when something changes
  • No direct SSAS integration at the moment, but they hope to have some in the future

Written by Chris Webb

November 3, 2009 at 7:17 pm

PASS Summit 2009

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I’m currently waiting to board my flight to Seattle for this year’s PASS Summit, so I thought I’d give a quick plug for my session “Designing Effective Aggregations in Analysis Services 2008”, just after lunch on Wednesday. Unfortunately I’ve been scheduled against several other interesting SSAS sessions, so all I can say is go to mine and watch the videos of the others later!

I’ll also be hosting a table on ‘Performance Tuning MDX’ at the Birds of a Feather Lunch on Tuesday, so if you’d like to come and have a chat then please join me. And if you see me wandering around anywhere, however stressed/tired/drunk I might look, by all means say hello…!

Written by Chris Webb

November 2, 2009 at 8:08 am

Posted in Events


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