Pro SQL Server 2012 BI Solutions
Pro SQL Server 2012 BI Solutions

Author: Randall Root and Caryn Mason
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 806
ISBN: 978-1430234883
Aimed at: database admins and developers working on BI projects
Rating: 4.5
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank

You can put forward a strong argument that Business Intelligence is the only real point of having a database.

Why keep data unless you're going to use it to make your business more effective, or in some other way to use the data to provide insights that can't be seen by 'just looking' at the records? The problem in the past has been that BI products are large, cumbersome, expensive, and hard to use. Whether or not you like SQL Server as a database, there's no denying that Microsoft has, over recent versions, put together some BI tools that don't cost a fortune, and that in theory are simple enough for anyone to use. Root and Mason's book assumes no prior knowledge of BI or the BI elements of SQL Server. It isn't aimed at programmers in particular, just at database techies who need to understand BI.



The book kicks off with a general introduction to BI solutions, followed by a '10,000 foot view of a BI project'. This chapter would be an excellent one to give to anyone you're working with who has no idea what a BI project involves, as it lays out in fairly understandable terms just what is needed. The next chapter looks at how to plan a BI project, with questions you should ask such as 'why do we need it?', 'what are we building?', 'when will we need it?', and 'how will we finish it?' In my experience, most of these would, if honest, be answered with 'no idea', but having some clue might prevent some of the disasters that masquerade as BI projects. The chapter also covers concepts like locating the data and estimating the cost.



Having laid out the high level requirements, Root and Mason go on to some of the basic necessities, starting with a chapter on designing a data warehouse. This discusses star and snowflake structures, dimensional patterns, and surrogate keys. The next chapter looks at creating the warehouse using SQL Server Management Studio, and this is followed by a chapter on ETL - Extract, Transform and Load - the processes involved in taking data and placing it in the data warehouse in a usable format. The practicalities of ETL are covered in the next two chapters, looking at how to use SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) to work over the data.

Once the data warehouse is created, the next stage of a BI project in SQL Server is to use SSAS to analyze the data.SQL Server Analysis Services lets you create data cubes made up of aggregate data that you can run reports on. Root and Mason have good in-depth descriptions of the concepts of setting up data cubes, and how to design and configure the dimensions. There's also a chapter on additional cube and dimension configurations that looks at the 'extras' - the other tabs you get when crating cubes and dimensions where you can specify actions, partitions, aggregations, perspectives and translations.

There are just two chapters on creating reports, one showing how to use SQL queries, the other MDX queries. I'd have liked more coverage of this area, but I can see how the space requirements make that difficult. There's a chapter looking at creating reports in Excel, and two chapters look at creating and configuring reports with SSRS - SQL Server Reporting Services.

Overall, I liked this book. It gives a good balanced view of what BI is all about, and how to go from a mass of data to a system that you can run queries and reports against. If you don't really understand SQL Server's BI facilities, it's a good read, and it contains enough detail and descriptions to enable you to create a fully featured BI system.


Murach's SQL Server 2016 for Developers

Authors: Joel Murach and Bryan Syverson
Publisher: Mike Murach & Associates
Pages: 672
ISBN: 978-1890774967
Print: 1890774960

Audience: SQL Server novices
Rating: 5
Reviewer: Ian Stirk

This book is aimed at those new to SQL Server, or those with a basic understanding wanting to l [ ... ]

Mondrian in Action, Open Source Business Analytics

Authors: William D Back, Nicholas Goodman, Julian Hyde
Publisher: Manning
Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-1617290985
Aimed at: Analysts and developers
Rating: 4
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank 

Mondrian is an open-source data analysis tool that can be used for analyzing data. You can use it to create reports, or to se [ ... ]

More Reviews

Last Updated ( Thursday, 17 January 2013 )

RSS feed of book reviews only
I Programmer Book Reviews
RSS feed of all content
I Programmer Book Reviews
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.