Business Intelligence Bootcamp Part 2

May 14, 2008

Well, it’s certainly been an enjoyable ride. I never realised that business intelligence actually covers Sql Server Integration Services (SSIS), Sql Server Reporting Services (SSRS) and Sql Server Analysis Services (SSAS). The BI practitioner needs all three to be effective. I had a lot of previous experience with DTS packages, but it has evolved considerably and is miles ahead of its predecessor. I had also done SSRS but even with significant knowledge, there’s still stuff to learn. And Analysis Services, well, the last time I touched an OLAP cube was around 1999, so it’s a life time in computer terms!

Yesterday we did a whole lot of SSRS to support Business Intelligence. I had done a lot of SSRS before, however I would never make the claim that I know everything, and so I made sure I covered all the steps in the labs, and I was glad to do so, as I did learn different ways of doing things. One of the major things I learnt here is about Report Builder, which is self-service reporting. It’s sort of like a reduced feature report designer that is targetted at Business types that don’t want to go through developers just to get reports done. That’s pretty neat, because what developer really wants to spend their life doing reports! The course also covered integrating the reports with .net applications and how to do it programmatically.

And finally today we got onto UDM (Unified Data Model), OLAP, building cubes, working with dimensions and facts, calculations, KPIs, processing and deployment. I think so far, the most enjoyable thing for me was the SSIS, because I learnt so much, and the topic that required the most concentration is most definitely the construction of the data cubes.

Half way through the course now, and it’s pretty full-on. I have to say if you’ve been around IT for a few years and know your stuff (say, intermediate level and above), and you’re looking for a challenge in an area you don’t know that much about, then BI is definitely a choice worth looking at, and an intensive course will help you hit the ground running as quickly as possible.

Business Intelligence Bootcamp Part 1

May 13, 2008

I decided to do a course. Basically, I decided that rather than fumble through books and notes and help files, I’d actually go and learn a whole stack of new skills and upgrade some old ones. Courses are great, because you can learn an awful lot in a very short period of time, and if you choose the right one, you can learn best practice and learn it from the best.

As my strongest skill is actually in SQL Server, I decided to seek out something that would extend that. I decided that because database, and data concepts are used extensively in BI, it would be the logical choice.

For someone with as many years experience as I have, it is often difficult to find courses of a suitably advanced level, that will also help you hit the ground running in whatever the chosen skill is.

Well, I found the course of choice at Greg Low’s new company SolidQ. The course is Peter Myers BI Bootcamp. See Peter Myers is one of the top BI experts, if not the top BI expert in Australia. He wrote the course!

Anyway, I’ve now completed Day 1, now into Day 2. It’s actually been quite mind broadening. Basically, I had no idea exactly how extensive the need for Sql Server Integration Services (SSIS) is in Business Intelligence. To become an expert in BI, you will need to spend a lot of time taking the data from your data source, massaging it, and placing it in Fact and Dimension tables in your Data Warehouse database. And SSIS is just so rich! There are so many controls in the toolbox that can be added to the design area that it’s simply brilliant.