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Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services Unleashed Paperback – December 24, 2008

3.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

As the foundation of the Microsoft Business Intelligence Strategy, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services provides users with faster access to data and even more tools for managing and analyzing data across multidimensional objects (databases, dimensions, cubes). "Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services Unleashed" is the ultimate guide for anyone who is planning to use the latest version of Analysis Services. It gives readers insight into the way Analysis Services functions, and explains practical methods for designing and creating multidimensional objects. It also provides valuable insight into the reasons behind the design decisions taken by the product development team. The authors have been involved with Analysis Services from its earliest days. They have documented in detail the internal features of Analysis Services 2008, explaining server architecture, main data structures, data processing, and query resolution algorithms.
  • Discover the new functionality introduced in Analysis Services 2008 including MDX enhancements and new DMV (dynamic memory views)
  • Work with the Business Intelligence Development Studio, the new Dimension Editor, and Aggregation Designer interfaces
  • Enjoy complete coverage of new Shared Scalable Databases scale-out infrastructure
  • Learn the key concepts of multidimensional modeling
  • Explore the multidimensional object model and its definition language
  • Integrate multidimensional and relational databases
  • Build client applications to access data in Analysis Services
  • Unravel the inner workings of the server architecture, including main data structures, data processing, and query resolution algorithms
  • Learn the main concepts of the MDX language and gain an in-depth understanding of advanced MDX concepts
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the internal and external protocols for data transfer, including the XML/A protocol
  • Discover how Analysis Services manages memory
  • Explore the security model, including role-based security, code-access security, and data security
Category: Microsoft SQL Server Covers: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services User Level: Intermediate-Advanced $59.99 USA / $65.99 CAN / 38.99 Net UK

About the Author

Irina Gorbach is a senior development lead at Microsoft. She joined the Analysis Services team soon after its creation over 11 years ago. During her work at Microsoft, Irina has designed and developed many features of the Analysis Services product, and was responsible for client subsystem: OLEDB and ADOMD.Net. Irina was in the original group of architects that designed XML for Analysis specification; she worked on the architecture and design of calculation algorithms and currently is working on scalability of Analysis Services.


Alexander Berger was one of the first developers to work on OLAP systems at Panorama, prior to their purchase by Microsoft. After the acquisition, Alexander led the development of Microsoft OLAP Server through all of its major releases prior to SSAS 2008. Currently, Alexander leads the Business Intelligence department for Microsoft adCenter. 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.


Edward Melomed is one of the original members of the Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services team. He arrived in Redmond as part of Microsoft’s acquisition of Panorama Software Systems, Inc., which led to the technology that gave rise to Analysis Services 2008. He works as a program manager at Microsoft and plays a major role in the infrastructure design for the Analysis Services engine.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 888 pages
  • Publisher: Sams Publishing; 1 edition (December 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0672330016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0672330018
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,013,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Utley on February 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
First, this book is not a tutorial. If you don't know SSAS and want to learn it, look elsewhere first and return to this book later.

What this book provides is an in-depth view of how Analysis Services really works. For those of us who spend most of our time working with Analysis Services, this book is invaluable for understanding how the engine behaves and why. You'll find details on processing, aggregations, attribute relationships, and virtually every other aspect of SSAS. The level of detail is exactly what you would expect from members of the SSAS team at Microsoft, which is to say it is very detailed and technical in nature.

There are five chapters on MDX that explain the subtleties of the various functions and how they perform. There are also chapters that delve into performance tuning, security, and administrative tasks. I highly recommend this book to anyone already familiar with SSAS because it contains valuable information not found anywhere else.
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I have thousands of hours of experience with SSAS 2000 and 2005. I think that SSAS is one of the best (if unappreciated) Microsoft products.

I bought this book for one reason - it was the first one available. If you need one now, then get it. But be warned that it's not particularly good.

The key problem is that the authors are fascinated with XML. They use raw XML to explain a wide variety of concepts and tasks. For the authors and publishers, it has the benefit of wasting a lot of space. This fattens the book and makes it look like you are getting more for your money.

Unfortunately for the readers, the book is difficult to read and completely misses the point of the SSAS interface. XML is the underlying metadata structure of SSAS. That is the last place you should look to understand cube and dimensional structure, or for modifying how the cube works.

For a professional programmer (me), time is money and productivity is everything. First you should should use the graphical and tabular representation of metadata to manipulate the cubes and dimension. THEN, you write MDX functions when necessary. If all else fails, mess with the XML.

If you can wait a few weeks, there are two new books coming out for AS 2008. I believe either would a much better alternative to this book.

Don't waste your money buying this book like I did.


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By JNL on February 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
If this is the best SSAS book for the hardcore technologist, then I shudder to think what the worst one is.

I bought this book having no knowledge of the SSAS product or MDX. However my preference is for a theory-heavy book rather than a step-by-step introductory tutorial, so I would rather go straight for the jugular with the expert level book. To their credit the authors being deeply involved in the development of SSAS seem to know the product quite well, but their ability to explain concepts effectively and give you the big picture, enabling you to best construct an OLAP system with their product, is a bit lacking.

First, I'm puzzled how a book can go to mass production without someone at least running the text through the grammar checker--there are numerous grammatical errors throughout this book. The index also doesn't seem very accurate. I also found myself questioning the correctness of a couple code samples. These are but the first signs that the book was hastily written & published in an effort to be the first book to market on the 2008 version.

My second problem is with the ability of the authors to explain concepts of a technology that is foreign to people coming from the RDBMS mindset. MDX is an odd language, but many of their explanations & code samples often make the language even more confusing than is probably necessary. Let's take an example: in the cube-based mdx script chapter, they introduce the concept of static vs. named sets. They essentially explain it as such: "dynamic named sets are different than static named sets. Without explaining what a dynamic named set is, we'll just give you a code sample showing you the difference and hope you figure it out.
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Don't get this book for any sort of introduction to Analysis Services, though it attempts to have sufficient breadth to have something for everyone. This book would be best for someone who has already worked extensively with Analysis Services for several years and wants or needs to take it to the next level, in terms of cube size and performance (both processing and querying), where you really need to understand what is going on in the engine under the covers.

Something that is rarely appreciated is just how open Microsoft has always been with respect to this product in allowing such detailed information on its inner workings to be made publicly available. The chapters on internals are the most valuable compared to other information sources that are out there.

It is true as another reviewer complained that there exist an unnecessary number of grammatical, syntax and spelling errors (the only reason I don't give 5 stars), but they are and I hate to say it, minor irritants compared to the valuable information presented. The other negative reviews I just don't grock at all. If I have any complaint it is that many of the internals details are presented so matter-of-factly that they can slide right by you without your realizing their significance or implications. They also could have included more on how the workings that are revealed relate to the many server parameters you can adjust and the many performance monitor counters you can utilize in SQL Server Profiler and perfmon to gain deep insight into what is going on underneath.

If you aren't already conversant with Profiler, get a good book on it too, like Mastering SQL Server Profiler by Brad McGehee - it's focused on SQL Server counters but it all applies to AS also.
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