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Stacia Misner

Multidimensional Thinking–24 Hours of Pass: Celebrating Women in Technology

It’s Day 1 of #24HOP and it’s been great to participate in this event with so many women from all over the world in one long training-fest. The SQL community has been abuzz on Twitter with running commentary which is fun to watch while listening to the current speaker. If you missed the fun today because you’re busy with all that work you’ve got to do – don’t despair. All sessions are recorded and will be available soon. Keep an eye on the 24 Hours of Pass page for details.

And the fun’s not over today. Rather than run 24 hours consecutively, #24HOP is now broken down into 12-hours over two days, so check out the schedule to see if there’s a session that interests you and fits your schedule. I’m pleased to announce that my business colleague Erika Bakse ( Blog | Twitter) will be presenting on Day 2 – her debut presentation for a PASS event. (And I’m also pleased to say she’s my daughter!)

Multidimensional Thinking: The Presentation

My contribution to this lineup of terrific speakers was Multidimensional Thinking. Here’s the abstract:

“Whether you’re developing Analysis Services cubes or creating PowerPivot workbooks, you need to get into a multidimensional frame of mind to produce a model that best enables users to answer their business questions on their own. Many database professionals struggle initially with multidimensional models because the data modeling process is much different than the one they use to produce traditional, third normal form databases. In this session, I’ll introduce you to the terminology of multidimensional modeling and step through the process of translating business requirements into a viable model.”

If you watched the presentation and want a copy of the slides, you can download a copy here. And you’re welcome to download the slides even if you didn’t watch the presentation, but they’ll make more sense if you did!

Kimball All the Way

There’s only so much I can cover in the time allotted, but I hope that I succeeded in my attempt to build a foundation that prepares you for starting out in business intelligence. One of my favorite resources that will get into much more detail about all kinds of scenarios (well beyond the basics!) is The Data Warehouse Toolkit (Second Edition) by Ralph Kimball. Anything from Kimball or the Kimball Group is worth reading.

Kimball material might take reading and re-reading a few times before it makes sense. From my own experience, I found that I actually had to just build my first data warehouse using dimensional modeling on faith that I was going the right direction because it just didn’t click with me initially. I’ve had years of practice since then and I can say it does get easier with practice. The most important thing, in my opinion, is that you simply must prototype a lot and solicit user feedback, because ultimately the model needs to make sense to them. They will definitely make sure you get it right!

Schema Generation

One question came up after the presentation about whether we use SQL Server Management Studio or Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) to build the tables for the dimensional model. My answer? It really doesn’t matter how you create the tables. Use whatever method that you’re comfortable with. But just so happens that it IS possible to set up your design in BIDS as part of an Analysis Services project and to have BIDS generate the relational schema for you. I did a Webcast last year called Building a Data Mart with Integration Services that demonstrated how to do this. Yes, the subject was Integration Services, but as part of that presentation, I showed how to leverage Analysis Services to build the tables, and then I showed how to use Integration Services to load those tables. I blogged about this presentation in September 2010 and included downloads of the project that I used. In the blog post, I explained that I missed a step in the demonstration. Oops.

Just as an FYI, there were two more Webcasts to finish the story begun with the data – Accelerating Answers with Analysis Services and Delivering Information with Reporting Services.

If you want to just cut to the chase and learn how to use Analysis Services to build the tables, you can see the Using the Schema Generation Wizard topic in Books Online.

Published Tuesday, March 15, 2011 5:04 PM by smisner
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