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Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0672327827
ISBN-10: 0672327821
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Edward Melomed is one of the original members of the Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services team. He arrived in Redmond as a part of Microsoft's acquisition of Panorama Software Systems, Inc., which led to the technology that gave rise to Analysis Services 2005. He works as a program manager and plays a major role in the infrastructure design for the Analysis Services engine.


Irina Gorbach is a senior software designer on the Analysis Services team, which she joined soon after its creation nine years ago. During her time at Microsoft, Irina has designed and developed many features, was responsible for client subsystems OLEDB and ADOMD.NET, and was in the original group of architects that designed the XML for Analysis specification. Recently she has been working on the architecture and design of calculation algorithms.


Alexander Berger was one of the first developers to work on OLAP systems at Panorama. After it was acquired by Microsoft, he led the development of Microsoft OLAP Server through all its major releases. He is one of the architects of OLEDB for the OLAP standard and MDX language, and holds more than 30 patents in the area of multidimensional databases.


Py Bateman is a technical writer at Microsoft. She originally hails from Texas, which was considered a separate country on the multinational Analysis Services team.


Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



It was a pleasure to be asked to write the foreword to this new book, which is remarkable for two reasons:

  • People who have spent five years developing a product are normally more than ready to move on to the next release once the product is finally ready for release. Indeed, long before a new version gets into customers' hands, the developers are normally already working on the next release. So, for the actual developers to spend the considerable time that this book must have taken to write a lengthy, detailed book on it is very rare.
  • In my years as an industry analyst with The OLAP Report, and much earlier as a product manager, I have rarely come across developers who are prepared to provide such chapter and verse information on exactly how a product works. Even under NDA, few software vendors are prepared to volunteer this level of inside information.

But why should this be of interest to anyone who isn't an OLAP server developer? Why should a mere user or even an application developer care about what exactly happens under the hood, any more than ordinary car drivers needs to know the details of exactly how their car's engine management system works?

There are some good reasons why this is relevant. Analysis Services is now by far the most widely used OLAP server, which inevitably means that most of its users are new to OLAP. The OLAP Surveys have consistently found that the main reason for the choice is price and the fact that it is bundled with SQL Server, rather than performance, scalability, ease of use, or functionality.

This is not to say that Analysis Services lacks these capabilities; just that typical Analysis Services buyers are less concerned about them than are the buyers of other products. But when they come to build applications, they certainly will need to take these factors into account, and this book will help them succeed. Just because Analysis Services is perceived as being a low-cost, bundled product does not mean that it is a small, simple add-on: particularly in the 2005 release, it is an ambitious, complex, sophisticated product. How it works is far from obvious, and how to make the most of it requires more than guesswork.

Many of the new Analysis Services users will have used relational databases previously, and will assume that OLAP databases are similar. They are not, despite the superficial similarities between MDX and SQL. You really need to think multidimensionally, and understand how Analysis Services cubes work.

Even users with experience of other OLAP servers will find that they differ from each other much more than do relational databases. If you start using Analysis Services without understanding the differences and without knowing how Analysis Services really works, you will surely store up problems for the future. Even if you manage to get the right results now, you may well compromise the performance and future maintainability of the application.

The OLAP Surveys have consistently found that if there is one thing that really matters with OLAP, it is a fast query response. Slow performance is the biggest single product-related complaint from OLAP users in general, and Analysis Services users are no different. Slow query performance was also the biggest technical deterrent to wider deployment.

Many people hope that ever improving hardware performance will let them off the hook: If the application is too slow, just rely on the next generation of faster hardware to solve the problem. But results from The OLAP Surveys show that this will not work—the rate of performance complaints has gone up every year, whether actual query performance has improved or not. In an era when everyone expects free sub-second Web searches of billions of documents, books, and newsgroup postings, they are no longer willing to wait five or ten seconds for a simple management report from a modest internal database. It is not enough for an OLAP application to be faster than the spreadsheet or relational application it replaced—it must be as fast as other systems that we all use every day.

The good news is that fast query performance is possible if you take full advantage of the OLAP server's capabilities: The OLAP Survey 6 found that 57% of Analysis Services 2005 users reported that their typical query response was less than five seconds. This was the traditional benchmark target query time, but in the new era of instant Web searches, I think the new target should be reduced to one second. This is a tough target, and will require application developers to really know what they are doing, and to take the time to optimize their systems.

This is where this book comes in. The authors—who have been involved with Analysis Services from its earliest days, long before it was called Analysis Services—have documented, in detail, what really happens inside Analysis Services 2005, right down to the bit structure of data records. Along the way, numerous controllable parameters are described, with helpful information about how they cause memory or other computer resources to be used.

This book is not intended to teach new users how to use Analysis Services 2005; it is for technically competent implementers who want to make the most of Analysis Services by understanding how it really works, as described by those who really know, unlike other books written by external authors who sometimes have to speculate. If you are new to Analysis Services, you probably need to start with a "how do I?" book or course, rather than a "what happens inside?" book like this one.

Nigel Pendse

Editor of The OLAP Report
Author of The OLAP Survey

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Sams Publishing; 1 edition (December 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0672327821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0672327827
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,053,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Don't use this book to learn Analysis Services. Use this book as a reference after you have already learned Analysis Services from other books such as the ones by Teo Lachev or Reed Jacobson. This book doesn't even attempt to explain what a Dimension is, what an Attribute is etc. Instead it gives you DDL (XML) dumps for those things. Concepts are not explained using examples. I still gave it 2 stars because it has some programming info that other books do not have, and is good as a reference book for Analysis Services experts.
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I've been architecting BI solutions for large enterprise customers for past 7 years and one of the biggest challenges is trying to optimize the processing performance without enough knowledge about how the OLAP engine works under the hood.

This is the 1st book which not only covers all the spectrums of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services but also reveals how the core OLAP engine handles various tasks such as creating execution plan for cube processing; coordinating thread pools; handling dependencies;... It also describes each processing job's features (like whether it's a single- or multi- threaded task; how resource intensive it is;...) in great details.

If you are interested in the OLAP physical storage (for example, how different types of data are stored and compressed; how the bitmap index is created and optimized; how the hash table is constructed to enable fast access; what the file extension .ahstore\.kstore\.map\... stands for;...), then this is the book for you because the authors are OLAP engine gurus who know the physical structure inside out.

Once equipped with the deep engine knowledge, you would be empowered for a high scalable and performing OLAP solution architecture, design and implementation. It will also help you with the capacity planning to better match the hardware selection with your processing window.

That's why I think this book is "The Key for Deep Divers".
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Format: Paperback
The authors unveiled the secrets of Analysis Services internals. The book helps to understand why and how Analysis Services is designed, made, and how it runs. It helps immensely every designer and developer to get all of SSAS power. It describes not only the best practices, but also gives warnings about possible mistakes during cube design, processing and querying.

Despite of its 900 pages, the book is filled with useful information that you don't find anywhere else, neither in MSDN and BOL, nor in other books and blogs.

This book is absolutely not "yet another book about Analysis Services" and dramatically distinguishes itself over Wrox's publications.

By the depth of the material presented, this book can be put in the same category as such wonderful books as Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2005 by Itzik Ben-Gan and Kalen Delaney.

Analysis Services 2005 is a serious book for serious people, but in no way dry or boring. I swallowed it in few days as a breathtaking adventure.
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The book is not meant for beginners, but, doesn't expect the reader to be an expert on OLAP either. Some introductory knowledge of OLAP would be enough to derive a great deal of benefit from this book. Most books on Analysis services deal with the user facing aspects of it - MDX or database modelling. This is the only book that covers the storage engine of Analysis Services and not just covers it - offers a great deal of detail in a way that is easily understood. This is not to say that query evaluation through MDX is given a short shrift. Both aspects of Analysis services are covered in a very detailed fashion. No other book talks about the implementation of processing algorithms, memory management, query evaluation and the like in such a clear and in depth fashion. Topics like Distinct count and Many to Many dimensions that many implementations stumble over are explained well. The book will pay for itself over and over again when you have to implement Analysis Services. It should really have been called Inside Microsoft Analysis Services 2005.
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My title says it all: if you want a nuts and bolts book about Analysis Services and MDX, this is the book for you. If you want to know how to implement OLAP from a higher level, their are other books I recommend (Mundy and Thornwaite, for example). So far I haven't found a book that explains what goes on under the hood as well as this one, but then these guys invented it.

However, if you have specific implementation problem, there are really no solution short cuts in the book. On the other hand, you can probably figure out if you will be able to solve it by digging into the specifics of Analysis Services implementation.
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I agree with a previous reviewer that you should not use this book to learn Analysis Services. Read another book for that, then come to this book if you need a more in depth theoretical understanding of the product.

However I have to emphasize that the book is a very difficult read. I don't know how to say it better than that - it requires intense concentration to try and read through it and understand, and even then it's not easy. I would have preferred more clear examples that explained what they're talking about.

I can't recommend this book simply due to the difficulty of reading it. It should have been written in a more accessible, clearer way. I believe only the most determined readers will complete the book.

Again it does have some excellent in depth information on the product and why it was designed as it was, and gives a different perspective on everything which is indeed valuable - it's just hard to read, which in my opinion is a huge flaw.
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