4/19/2012

Microsoft BI Stack

When you think of Microsoft Business Intelligence, there is so much under that umbrella.

Each utility is a tool in a programmers tool belt.

There's reporting - SSRS.  I've heard some people call this 'simple'.  However, it is quite complex and a great info delivery utility.  There is big demand for report developers except many positions also required DBA, .net, SharePoint, etc. skills in combination.

There's ETL - SSIS.  I've been writing DTS packages for a decade.  However, this is really a great skill to have and I wouldn't mind getting more exposure in order to learn the intricacies involved. I have basically created data extracts in comma / pipe delimited files or Excel destination files.  And transformed the data along the way.  There seems to be an increase demand for ETL developers and limited supply of qualified developers.

There's cubes - SSAS.  These are relational databases on steroids.  You can have multiple layers of data, pre-aggregated  for faster retrieval and ability to slice and dice the data quickly.  This sits a top relational databases or data warehouses and can be queried using a language called MDX.  There is a big demand for this skill and it is more on the advanced side of Business Intelligence, and the pay is compensatory.

There's SharePoint - which is two fold.  You can integrate with SSRS and / or use as file repository for an organization.  There are complexities regarding pricing and installation and sometimes requires one or many full time employees to maintain.  Also, once in production, it has the capabilities of growing into a jungle of files and disarray.

There's Data Quality Services - which is fairly new.  This puts the business logic into the hands of the business user along with Data Governance in order to ensure 'good' data.  When data is brought into the ecosystem, it can be cleansed based on defined business rules and this utility allows that to happen.

There's Master Data Services.  This allows for a centralized repository of data to be maintained via a web-front end.  See my Blog Post.

There's Power Pivot.  This is a free plug in with Excel 2010 and allows business users to bring in data from a variety of sources, apply joins and create pseudo Cubes rather quickly.  These cubes can then be dissected using Excel Pivot Tables and uploaded into SharePoint.  A great tool for business users, just be sure to keep security in mind.  In 2012, you can also develop these cubes in BIDS and then upload to SharePoint or SSAS.

There's Performance Point.  This allows users to create visually exciting and informative Graphs, Scorecards, Charts, etc. with drill through capabilities.  These are intended for high level exec's.

There's PowerView.  These allow users to create, on the fly, visually enticing reports in SharePoint.

There's a variety of other new features included in the Microsoft Stack.  I'm just going off memory here.

All in all, if you submerge yourself in this stack of Business Intelligence, you will have plenty of opportunity.

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