Ad Hoc BI User Tools Against Dimensional and Cubed SQL Server Database

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Ad Hoc BI User Tools Against Dimensional and Cubed SQL Server Database

Post  DBAHeart on Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:40 pm

I thought I was doing the right thing.

The source database I have is rather convoluted with little common standards for storing data.

Pulling data from this system requires deep knowledge of the application logic, not just about the subject area.

So - my idea was to provide customers with a dimensional database - cleaned, scrubbed, "normalized", transformed

And I thought SSIS was a great tool - no licensing costs - they all own SQL Server

1-It is taking me a bit longer than I wanted to get results mostly because it has been 10% of the job

2-I cannot find good, solid, cost-effective ad hoc tools for users that would provide dashboards, drilldown and would just hook up nicely to my cleaned, prepped dimensional database.

Trying to do the right thing... Any suggestions? It seems that a number of the tools are rather expensive or do not really go against a dimensional database - sigh....

It seems like users are now empowered to build their own dimensional database on the fly - still with this source database - that would be asking for trouble


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Re: Ad Hoc BI User Tools Against Dimensional and Cubed SQL Server Database

Post  Mike Honey on Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:11 pm

I would recommend Excel 2010 or 2013. With the free PowerPivot add-in you/they can quickly build in-memory cubes on a dimensional database model, presented as Pivot Tables. Pivot Tables can be broken into individual cell formulas for dashboard authoring with a very low learning curve. Excel already has all the typical dashboard visual elements included.

These scale quite well (especially on 64-bit Excel) and can be deployed to SQL Server Analysis Services via SharePoint. SharePoint 2013 (Enterprise CAL) includes Excel Web with full authoring capabilities on Pivot Tables and supports a wide range of browsers including Safari on iOS (e.g. iPad). You could also go SharePoint Online for a cheaper hosted solution.
Mike Honey
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