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Friday, May 01, 2009

What is SQL Server BI Anyway? - Part II

Recently I post this article: 'What is SQL Server BI Anyway'

In that article I took and addressed, at a high level, what SQL Server BI is. What technologies from SQL Server can and are a part of a SQL Server BI Solution.

We answered with that post: 'So what is BI in terms of SQL Server?' We talked about the 3 main teachnologies that make this up: SSRS, SSAS & SSIS.

Now having that knowledge level of SQL Server BI Solution, and technologies, that make it up, we can move forward with the next question posed during that post.

Why is this important to understand?

The reason why this is most important to understand, for someone wanting to know about BI in terms of Dynamics AX, is that the BI offered in Dynamics AX is based on the technologies that SQL Server BI Solutions are made up of.

On top of that, the BI solutions inside Dynamics AX add another part to the dimension of reporting, with KPI offered up by PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint. Also SharePoint itself plays another critical role in offering these reports, Cube, KPI point, etc. via Role Centers, targeted to information worker roles inside the Dynamics AX instance.

Once you understand the BI solution from SQL Server point of view, then you can truly incorporate that into Dynamics AX 2009 (and beyond) with how those technologies, were meant to be used.

For example, SSRS reports are meant to be used within Dynamics AX, and Dynamics AX role centers for reports. There is a new AOT node inside Dynamics AX 2009 called Datasets. These Datasets are part of what enables datasources for SSRS reports to be built with.

You also have OLAP cubes, which Dynamics AX comes with standard cubes out of the box. These can be built, processed, and then viewed from within Dynamics AX. For analytics, this is where your data comes from. Looking at different dimensions of data, across a slice of time, customers, vendors, inventory, etc. etc.

Then PerformancePoint comes in, which will not be delivered by SharePoint, and be a part of SharePoint. This offers KPI and other Analytical dashboards, etc. for use with your transactional data.

This could also be made use, of say you make use of SSIS to build a data mining database or several that come into a Datawarehouse. Well in turn the KPI, Dashboards and reporting inside PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint could be ran not just on the Dynamics AX parts of the information, but on all the data in your Datawarehouse for cross sections of information from all the systems you make use of.

There is a white paper on Microsoft's site, that is right at a year old. Actually one year old this month, to be exact. Even though this is a year old white paper, this does a great job of giving even more details into what I am talking about here. The direct link to that whitepaper can be found here: Microsoft Dynamics AX - BI White Paper (2008)

The only thing you need to really make note of in this, is that PerformancePoint Services is now part of SharePoint. That knowledge was not known yet when this white paper was wrote.

Also feel free to take a look at the BI home page of Microsoft: Microsoft BI Home page.

With the knowledge that you have gained, or can gain from these several post that have been done, you can start to really understand BI from Microsoft's point of view. The solution, how they are used and built from SQL through Dynamcis AX.

One other thing that can come into play is Office. I did not mention that, but Excel is a favorite of everyone. That very much can play into your BI solution, where Excel can be the front end for deliverying BI reports and Analytical information to your information workers.

Well check back soon. More great post are coming out. If you have further questions about BI, getting BI working for you at the SQL or Dynamics AX level and want to get into more details. Feel free to contact the experts at Sunrise Technologies, Inc..

See you soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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