Analysis Services 2005 is the premier multi-dimensional database from Microsoft. This is the most recent of three releases from Microsoft to date. In this release, the tools and server provided have been designed for use as an enterprise-class Business Intelligence Server and we think Microsoft has been successful. Analysis Services 2005 provides you with powerful tools to design, build, test and deploy your multi-dimensional databases. By integrating the tools within Visual Studio you really get the feel of building a BI project. Similar to any application you build within VS; you build your BI projects and deploy them to Analysis Services instance. Due to the new product design and enhanced features you definitely have to know how to create cubes, dimensions and many other objects, maintain them, and support your BI users. Similar to its well-liked predecessors, Analysis Services 2005 supports the MDX language by which you can query data. MDX is for querying multi-dimensional databases much like SQL is for query of relational databases. The MDX language is a component of the OLE DB for OLAP specification and is supported by other BI vendors. Microsoft's Analysis Services 2005 provides certain extensions that help you to achieve more from your multi-dimensional databases.
This book walks you through the entire product and the important features of the product with the help of step by step instructions on building multi-dimensional databases. Within each chapter you will not only learn how to use the features but also learn more about the features at a user level and what happens behind the scenes to make things work. We believe this will provide you additional insight into how features really work and hence provide insight into how they are best exploited. It will also enhance your ability to debug problems which you might not have been able to otherwise. This behind the scenes view is often surfaced through exposure of the XML for Analysis XML/A created by the product based on user interface settings. It works like this; Analysis Services 2005 uses the XML/A specification to communicate between client and server — The Analysis Services 2005 tools communicate to the server using XML/A. Once you have designed your multi-dimensional database using the tools you need to send the definition to the server. At that time the tools use XML/A to send the definitions. You will learn these definitions so that you have the ability to design a custom application which interacts with an Analysis Services instance.
MDX is the language used for data retrieval from Analysis Services. You will get an introduction to the MDX language with basic concepts and the various MDX functions in this book. When you are browsing data using Analysis Services tools; those tools send appropriate MDX to the instance of Analysis Services which contains the target data. By learning the MDX sent to the server for the various desired operations you will begin to understand the intricacies of MDX and thereby improve your own MDX coding skills by extension.
One of the key value-adds found in this book, which we think is worth the price of admission by itself, is that through the chapters you will begin to understand what design trade offs are involved in BI application development. Further, the book will help you in do better BI design for your company in the face of those trade off decisions– especially with the help of a few scenarios. And there are many scenarios discussed in this book. The scenarios are geared towards some of the common business problems that are currently faced by existing Analysis Services customers. While there is no pretension that this book will teach you business per se, it is a book on BI and we did take the liberty of explaining certain business concepts which you are sure to run into eventually. For example, the often misunderstood concept of depreciation is explained in some detail. Again, this aspect of the book is shallow, but we hope what pure business concepts are covered will provide you a more informed basis from which to work. If you know the concepts already, well, why not read about the ideas again? There might be some new information in there for you.
Finally, this book covers integration of Analysis Services with other SQL Server 2005 components – Data Mining, Integrations Services and Reporting Services. These chapters will help you go beyond just a passing level of understanding of Analysis Services 2005; it is really integration of these disparate components which ship in the box with SQL Server which allow you to build start to finish BI solutions which are scalable, maintainable, have good performance characteristics, and highlight the right information. Do not skip the chapters which do not at first seem crucial to understanding Analysis Services 2005 itself; it is the whole picture that brings the real value. Get that whole picture for stellar success and return on your investment of time, and energy.