Dan English's BI Blog

Welcome to my random thoughts in regards to Business Intelligence, databases, and other technologies

Archive for November, 2009

Follow my tweets on twitter – @denglishbi

Posted by denglishbi on November 20, 2009

I configured Windows Liver Writer to post an update out to my twitter, @denglishbi, a while back and now I have started to do some tweeting since attending the PASS 2009 Summit.  Took me a while to catch on to this and I believe I have it down now, just not fully connected on the phone yet like some people I know…  It is just that sometimes I just want to post a quick item and not do a formal blog posting, so a quick tweet will be nice to post for people and for me to reference.


So I will be doing some occasional tweets posting comments, news, or feedback on items that I come across or run into primarily related to the Microsoft BI technologies like the SQL Server stack, Excel, PowerPivot, PerformancePoint, and SharePoint.  Plus an update will be posted when I submit a new blog posting.

If you are on twitter and would like to add me feel free and I look forward to tweeting with you.



Posted in Personal Comments | Leave a Comment »

North Central District Microsoft BI User Group 2009 Q4 Meeting – December 10

Posted by denglishbi on November 20, 2009

The next North Central District Microsoft BI User Group meeting will be at Microsoft Corporation, 8300 Norman Center Drive, Suite 950, Bloomington, Minnesota, 55437 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.


Please Register Now

1:30-2:00 Registration

2:00-2:15 BI SIG Updates & Announcements

  • Hear about how the organization is growing and changing to better serve you!
  • Agenda for the day and introduction of speakers

2:15-2:45 Flight to Efficiencies (Presented by: David Hudrlik– Compellent Technologies) Business Intelligence has changed over the last few years from being a business buzzword to becoming a business requirement for many companies. However, the jump from ‘Business Intelligence Initiative’ to ‘Business Intelligence Implementation’ can often be intimidating and overwhelming, especially for SMBs with limited budget and resources. By choosing technologies that leverage your existing resources and using a phased implementation approach, you can mitigate many of the roadblocks to a successful BI implementation in an SMB. Compellent Technologies has been able to successfully deploy the initial phases of our BI initiative, allowing us to realize immediate benefits and gain momentum with additional portions of our business. This success was made possible by the decisions to use a phased implementation style, to implement using our existing MS SQL Server infrastructure and to incorporate a knowledge transfer mentality into our early deployments so we could continue to extend our BI footprint by utilizing internal resources.

About David Hudrlik, Business Intelligence Analyst, Compellent Technologies – David Hudrlik has focused on Business Intelligence initiatives for the last seven years. For the last year he has focused on implementing the Microsoft Business Intelligence stack at Compellent Technologies. David’s experience in Business Intelligence ranges from data modeling and data integration in support of multiple reporting formats, to implementing reporting structures that support both standard reporting and analytics.

2:45-3:00 Break

3:00– 3:15 Microsoft Update – Update on the new developments with Microsoft BI

3:15 – 4:30 “What successful business intelligence project teams do different” (Presented by: JoAnne Sabin, Watermark Learning) Search for “business intelligence project failure” and you’ll get about 775,000 hits. In the past 10 years business intelligence has matured and leading experts in the field have come together to highlight for you what successful business intelligence project teams do differently. Developers and business people have a common goal, they want to be successful and effective in their work. Join us December 10 to learn about common BI mistakes and challenges and strategies you and your teams can employ to overcome them.

About JoAnne Sabin – JoAnne Sabin has over twenty-five years Information Technology experience, with expertise in systems development methodology, training, and information architecture. As a methodologist, JoAnne has developed and implemented systems development life cycle improvements in a variety of large companies, with a focus on improving speed, time, and cost of delivery. In a training role, JoAnne has extensive experience developing training and train-the-trainer materials, teaching stand-up courses, and mentoring one-on-one. As an information architect, she has developed enterprise-wide logical data and process models as well as mentored others in this skill. JoAnne has strong communication and facilitation skills. She is very committed to delivering quality results that meet the client’s needs. JoAnne has extensive business expertise in the Retail, Mortgage Banking, Marketing, Transportation, Manufacturing, and Insurance industries.

4:30 – ??? Social and Networking: Meeting will adjourn with networking opportunity. Enjoy this time to meet your speakers and other members of the community. Refreshments will be provided.

Please Register Now

Posted in Training | Leave a Comment »

PASSMN December 8, 2009 Monthly Meeting

Posted by denglishbi on November 13, 2009

There will be no meeting this month because of scheduling conflicts with the room and also with the presenters.  We will resume next month for a special event on Tuesday, December 8 from 5 to 7 PM.  You can visit the local site to get registered at http://www.mnssug.org or click the link to Register Here.

Don’t Wait! Consolidate on 2008! (Speaker: Rick Heiges, Scalability Experts) SQL Server 2008 introduces features such as Resource Governor, Compression, Virtualization, and Policy-Based Management that help organizations consolidate to keep TCO down. A discussion of features since 2000 that enable consolidation along with the limitations of each will be presented. Real-world stories will enhance this discussion. The session will also encompass SQL Server on Virtual Machines.

Rick Heiges  is a SQL Server MVP and a Sr. Solutions Consultant with Scalability Experts working with customers on solutions within the SQL Server environment and educating users on SQL Server by speaking at user groups, conferences, labs, and road shows across the USA, Europe, and Africa. He holds an MBA and a M.S. in MIS as well as a B.S. in Computer Science. In addition, he also has attained MCTS:SQL2005 and MCITP:DBA certifications. His career has dealt with a wide array of job responsibilities including professor, developer, trainer, database administrator, and project manager/leader. Rick has been involved with PASS since the spring of 2001 and started up an Official PASS SQL Server user group in North Carolina as well as authoring several articles on for the PASS technical journal, the SQL Server Standard. Rick has served on the PASS Board of Directors since January 2003. You can read his blog at www.sqlblog.com and contact him at rheiges@scalabilityexperts.com.

At this meeting we will also be introducing the PASSMN 2010 Executive Board and we will have some giveaways as always including the PASS 2008 Summit Session discs.  Hope to see you there and lets end this year with a bang!

Posted in Training | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Magenic Featured on .NET Stories – Code Master

Posted by denglishbi on November 11, 2009

Microsoft has a new site for .NET Stories where they are doing a major ad campaign for the .NET framework and Magenic is one of the featured stories for the work that was done at Bally’s fitness.

Check out the video and read the full story here – Magenic’s Code Master


Microsoft features Magenic’s own Andy Schwarz in their .NET stories

Magenic’s work with Bally Total Fitness is featured in Microsoft’s series of developer stories focused on the .NET framework. At Bally’s, Magenic’s team was tasked with coordinating development teams both at Magenic and Bally to create custom applications for managing new contracts, membership identification, and card printing. The resulting application will substantially reduce paper processing costs and provide security against fraud.

image              image

Posted in News and politics | Leave a Comment »

Podcast available now by Odiogo

Posted by denglishbi on November 11, 2009

Today I was checking out a new blog posting, New Features in Performancepoint Services 2010 , Difference between Performancepoint Server 2007 and Performancepoint Services 2010, that was talking about new features in PerformancePoint Services and I noticed that they had a podcast feature enabled and available on their site.  Being curious I went ahead and clicked on it and then investigated the source to check it out.  Pretty easy and convenient service, just type in your site address or blog feed along with your email and it will automatically generate the audio podcasts and provide you a page to use for subscriptions.

I have added a new podcast feed area to the top right of my site


So you can click on this and it will take you to a site where you can listen to the podcast versions of the blog postings and also provide you a way to subscribe to them and you can use your ipod, zune, etc.

If you wish to subscribe to this feed, please click the links below:


As I get time I will incorporate this into the individual blog postings to make it available.  Something new that I am checking out, so we will see how it goes.  Let me know what you think.  Not sure if it really makes sense for the types of postings I typically do, but a neat feature none the less.

Posted in News and politics | 2 Comments »

SQL Server 2008 R2 November 2009 CTP3 now available

Posted by denglishbi on November 11, 2009

Yesterday the November CTP3 of SQL Server 2008 R2 was released to the MSDN and TechNet subscribers.  Tomorrow the public release will be made available on the R2 site here – http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/r2.aspx.  So what has changed since the August release?  Well some of the big items are with SSRS with the addition on the Report Part Gallery, shared datasets, additional data visualizations with the sparklines, data bars, and indicators, and support for 2008 and 2008 R2 deployments in BIDS and the other thing will be the additional of Master Data Services and then PowerPivot for SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint management.

Master Data Services is a separate install in folder at the root of the install image.


Here is the link to the BOL documentation for all of the new features, enhancements, and the untouched items:

What’s New (SQL Server 2008 R2) – http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb500435(SQL.105).aspx

In Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, several components have new or improved features. Other components have not changed since SQL Server 2008. Those components offer features that were new or enhanced in that release.

New in this Release

  • Master Data Services
    Master Data Services is comprised of a database, configuration tool, Web application, and Web service that you use to manage your organization’s master data and maintain an auditable record of that data as it changes over time. You use models and hierarchies to group and organize data to prepare it for further use in business intelligence and reporting tools, data warehouses, and other operational systems. Master Data Services integrates with source systems and incorporates business rules to become the single source of master data across your organization.
  • PowerPivot for SharePoint
    PowerPivot for Excel and PowerPivot for SharePoint are client and server components that integrate Analysis Services with Excel and SharePoint. You use PowerPivot for Excel to create PowerPivot workbooks that assemble and relate large amounts of data from different sources. On a SharePoint farm, PowerPivot for SharePoint adds shared services and infrastructure for querying and managing PowerPivot workbooks that you publish to SharePoint.
  • Multi-Server Administration and Data-Tier Application
    The SQL Server Utility forms a central repository for performance data and management policies that tailor the operation of instances of the Database Engine that have been enrolled in the utility. It also includes a Utility Explorer for centralized management, and dashboards that report the state of the managed instances. A data-tier application (DAC) forms a single unit for developing, deploying, and managing the database objects used by an application.

Enhanced in this Release

  • What’s New in SQL Server Installation
  • What’s New (Database Engine)
  • What’s New (Reporting Services)
    Reports can now include maps, Sparklines, and indicators to depict data. Report parts enable collaboration through shared datasets, report items, and data regions that are centrally stored and managed. Dataset query results can be cached on first use or by schedule. SharePoint integration supports multiple SharePoint Zones, SharePoint Universal Logging, SharePoint lists as data sources, and local mode report viewing with Access Services and SharePoint lists.

Unchanged in this Release

Some blogs to check out in regards to the SSRS new features are:

I still haven’t seen the download or release of the PowerPivot components, probably waiting for the public release of Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010, so stay tuned.

UPDATE (11/11/2009): The public download is now available on the MSDN downloads here:


Posted in SQL Server | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

SharePoint Server 2010 Training

Posted by denglishbi on November 10, 2009

Back in February after the announcement of Microsoft’s BI strategy of integrating PerformancePoint Monitoring & Analytics into SharePoint Server I posted a SharePoint Server 2007 Training list.  Yesterday I received an email from Rocky Lhotka of Magenic with a complete list of SharePoint Server 2010 training materials that has been released.  Assuming this is in preparation of the public betas that will be released sometime this month, hopefully later this week.


SharePoint 2010 Developer (Channel9 MSDN video series)

The SharePoint MSDN Developer Center


SharePoint 2010 (Beta) Developer Center

Find essential getting started information, what’s new, and learning resources for developers.

SharePoint 2010 Upgrade Resource Center

Check back here often for resources to help you get ready for the next version of SharePoint.

Get Started Developing on SharePoint 2010

Use these ten modules to get started with development for SharePoint 2010 using Visual Studio 2010.

SharePoint 2010 Community

Twitter. Delicious. SharePoint 2010 forums and blogs. Find out who’s talking about SharePoint 2010.

Developers at MSDN


IT Pros at TechNet


Everyone at Microsoft.com


The SharePoint 2010 MSDN SDK


SharePoint MSDN Forums


SharePoint 2010 Developer Evaluation Guide


An article on upgrading code from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010


Details of how to install SharePoint 2010 for developers on Windows 7



Lots of material to take a look at.  Enjoy.

Pre-register for SharePoint 2010 Beta – Pre-register today and get notified when SharePoint 2010 Beta becomes available in November. ​

Posted in Training | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

BI Power Hour demos

Posted by denglishbi on November 7, 2009

If you didn’t get a chance to check out the BI Power Hour session at the PASS Summit and haven’t been to one of these before you can check out some of the videos online that were uploaded earlier this year from TechEd on http://www.youtube.com/user/wowmsft.  These sessions are very interesting and show some very unusual ways to leverage the Microsoft technologies and of course there is the SWAG too that gets tossed around.

BI Power Hour: Scorecard Art (PerformancePoint Art using scorecards by Scott Heimendinger)


BI Power Hour: Playing Risk with Reporting (by Robert Bruckner)

BI Power Hour: Super Hero Analysis (by Dan Parish – this one was not done at the PASS 2009 Summit)


BI Power Hour: Sneak Preview of Gemini – part 1 (by Donald Farmer – this one was not done at the PASS 2009 Summit)

BI Power Hour: Sneak Preview of Gemini – part 2 (continuation of Donald’s presentation)

Posted in Business Intelligence | Leave a Comment »

PASS Summit 2009 Conference – Day 3 Recap

Posted by denglishbi on November 6, 2009

The final day of the conference, unless you are attending the post-conference sessions, and it ended strong.  Had to wait until the 2nd to last session for the Advanced Dashboard creation with PPS and it was worth it.  If you haven’t heard already, project ‘Madison’ is now SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse and of course ‘Gemini’ is PowerPivot (for Excel 2010 and also SharePoint 2010).  It has been stated that PowerPivot will be a free download and add-in for Excel 2010 and this will not require a SQL Server license unlike Report Builder, but additional licensing will be needed on the SharePoint 2010 side of the world.

For the sessions today I checked out:

SQLCAT: A Preview of PowerPivot Best Practices: excellent session provide pre-release ideas and concepts for configuring and deploying PowerPivot with SharePoint 2010 environment; there will be a 2GB max file size upload and uploads to SharePoint are not optimized like downloads; trick for upload is to attach to database views for data that include filters, setup PowerPivot file, upload, remove filter in database view, refresh PowerPivot source through SharePoint; got to take a look behind the scenes to see what was going on with the data that is cached with in-memory data files (SSAS file structure system) and on the server these will be extracted out into the SSAS backup directory (cached for later use)

Advanced BI Capabilities in Excel & Excel Services: Excel 2010 will provide x64 version; ability to search within filters to select items in filter list, ability to create named sets in Excel 2010 along with using MDX to define these and setup dynamic sets too (drilldown capability not available with named sets in Excel); leverage what-if analysis to update forecast or use for budgeting and writeback to cube (if allowed to); slicers provide additional visualizations of what you are looking at to make it easier to interpret; repeat labels option with PivotTables to provide ability to leverage Excel formulas to do calculations (like LOOKUP functions); ability to enter data in Excel Services leveraging JavaScript (reference the JavaScript file within content editor on page within a web part – no writeback capabilities yet); leverage REST API to create URI that will have direct access within a Excel file in SharePoint (could reference charts in Excel files to embed these into a PowerPoint presentation – linked so it will refresh when the data changes)

Advanced Dashboard creation with PerformancePoint Services: showed how the PPS elements were able to interact with other SharePoint web part items (can setup connections between the items on the web page when you design the page in SharePoint); showed setting up a KPI calculation from two different data sources; streamlined SharePoint deployment (goodbye wizard)

Managing PowerPivot: Analysis Services with SharePoint Integration (new farm or existing farm setup) [this is a install option with SQL Server 2008 R2]; you need to install SharePoint prior to the SQL Server 2008 R2 setup for SSAS SharePoint Integration (don’t run the configuration wizard, that will be done by the SQL Server 2008 R2 install); by default the management dashboard data is updated daily, but that is configurable; able to track the creator, data sources, users, and usage for each of the PowerPivot files


Not related to the conference at all, but it was announced during the Excel sessions: sign-up for Micorosft Web Applications in the Clouds – http://skydrive.live.com/acceptpreview.aspx/.documents?aobrp=browse.

That’s it for me;, the PASS 2009 Summit has now concluded.  Now we wait for the November releases of SQL Server 2008 R2, PowerPivot, Report Builder 3.0, SharePoint 2010, Office 2010, Master Data Service, … (did I miss anything).

Posted in SQL Server | 1 Comment »

PerformancePoint Services 2010 new functionality

Posted by denglishbi on November 5, 2009

I posted the link and information in regards to what was posting in the BOL in regards to What’s new for PerformancePoint Services (SharePoint Server 2010).  I just wanted to add on to the list of items and this is most likely either going to change or new items will be added over the next 6 to 8 months until the official release.

Items that have been removed from PPS 2010:

  • PPS repository – has now been transitioned into SharePoint (along with versioning)
  • Preview site – items will simply be deployed to SharePoint now
  • ODBC data source – will need to leverage SharePoint BDC (BCS in 2010) to get at this data (including Oracle now), create your own data source, or use Linked Server
  • OWC – long over due, so this brings the end to the PivotChart, PivotTable, Trending Chart – replacement will be Excel Services and data mining functionality in Excel
  • Planning – last update was the recent SP3 release for PPS 2007
  • Preview button in analytic reports during design time – access this through the right-click menu now

Items that have been added in PPS 2010:

  • PPS as a SharePoint Service just like Excel (and now Visio and Access)
  • Leverage SharePoint security – no additional PPS security anymore, permissions have been removed from the properties tab and no more PPS roles
  • SharePoint versioning – not separate anymore
  • Authentication security for data sources – security not global anymore in PPS, this can be configured at the data source level – if Farm option was chosen for SharePoint and still single server install then you will need to configure Kerberos if you want to use Per-User security option
  • Decomposition tree – this can be accessed through right-click in analytical reports and scorecards (goes from left to right instead of top to bottom) and this leverages SilverLight functionality, includes data bars, ability to send slices into analytical items to further analyze or export to PowerPoint or Excel, and more that can only be demoed. Unable to currently select this as an initial content type item and Performance Maps still not included (except for ProClarity)
  • Analytical Pie Charts – no longer have to use ProClarity for this
  • Select measures – within Analytical items you will now be able to add and select additional measure if you want to incorporate them into an existing analytical report that has already be deployed that you are using in a dashboard.  Unable to save this change outside the dashboard designer, but you have this new ability which is really nice
  • Drilling capability on the bottom axis of analytical items – now able to right-click on the bottom access members and drill down, drill up, drill to
  • SSAS conditional formatting support (color and font aware) – ability to leverage the predefined conditional formatting that is setup in SSAS in analytical items and scorecards
  • Enhanced scorecards – support for expand collapsing hierarchies on scorecards, additional filtering and sorting support (similar to Excel – select Top or Bottom N records), ability to place KPI names on columns or rows along with Actual/Target values, ability to have multiple actuals within a KPI and new feature to relate the values to each other now (connect them to each other), use multiple data sources in a single calculation
  • KPI Details content type – ability to view metadata about a particular KPI like the person responsible, threshold information, banding, etc.
  • Central Administration configuration – application settings are now done in application settings (like caching, default member limit – 5000 now instead of 500, but can be modified)
  • Increased MUI support
  • Filters – 1st class citizens now and are their own content type with ability to reuse across dashboards
  • Streamlined deployment of dashboards – ability to simply deploy to SharePoint specifying the library and master page (no more five click deployment and then closing down the wizard when it is done…yeah!)
  • Improved dimension support in Details section in Dashboard Designer – no longer a field list like Excel 2003.  This will be UDM aware and you will also be able to filter the list based off measure groups now also
  • ‘Secure Store’ authorization (single sign-on) option
  • PPS elements are now content type stored in SharePoint lists.  You will now need to maintain and arrange items accordingly in the workspace and lists to organize them (no longer separate Indicators, Data Sources, Reports, Scorecards, KPIs, Dashboards distribution
  • Ability to use filters with other SharePoint web parts
  • Ability to re-use and reference existing KPI values when setting up additional values (actual or targets) and then you can tweak them accordingly to help streamline the process
  • Instead of Publish option you now have Save (Publish = Save)
  • Instead of communicating with PPS web service URL you communicate with SharePoint site URL
  • Ability to relate the PPS web parts to other SharePoint parts so that they can interact with each other now (using the same framework now)

For some screenshots of these new capabilities take a look at this posting on the PPS site from this morning – New Features in PerformancePoint Services 2010.

Stay tuned for more changes to come based on feedback.  Participate with the public beta that comes out this month (don’t forget that this is only supported on x64 now and requires x64 SQL Server also).  You can register for the beta that will be coming out this month here – Pre-register for SharePoint 2010 Beta.

Check out the online documentation for additional information and updates as the product evolves even more – What’s new for PerformancePoint Services (SharePoint Server 2010).

Posted in PerformancePoint | Tagged: | 6 Comments »