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SSAS Tutorials

Welcome to SSAS Tutorials. The objective of these tutorials is to provide in depth understand of SSAS.

In addition to free SSAS Tutorials, we will cover common interview questions, issues and how to’s of SSAS.


SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) is the technology from the Microsoft Business Intelligence stack, to develop Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) solutions. In simple terms, you can use SSAS to create cubes using data from data marts / data warehouse for deeper and faster data analysis.

Cubes are multi-dimensional data sources which have dimensions and facts (also known as measures) as its basic constituents. From a relational perspective dimensions can be thought of as master tables and facts can be thought of as measureable details. These details are generally stored in a pre-aggregated proprietary format and users can analyze huge amounts of data and slice this data by dimensions very easily. Multidimensional expression (MDX) is the query language used to query a cube, similar to the way T-SQL is used to query a table in SQL Server.

Simple examples of dimensions can be product / geography / time / customer, and similar simple examples of facts can be orders / sales. A typical analysis could be to analyze sales in Asia-pacific geography during the past 5 years. You can think of this data as a pivot table where geography is the column-axis and years is the row axis, and sales can be seen as the values. Geography can also have its own hierarchy like Country->City->State.  Time can also have its own hierarchy like Year->Semester->Quarter. Sales could then be analyzed using any of these hierarchies for effective data analysis.

A typical higher level cube development process using SSAS involves the following steps:

-Reading data from a dimensional model

-Configuring a schema in BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio)

-Creating dimensions, measures and cubes from this schema

-Fine tuning the cube as per the requirements

-Deploying the cube

In this tutorial we will step through a number of topics that you need to understand in order to successfully create a basic cube. Our high level outline is as follows:

-Design and develop a star-schema

-Create dimensions, hierarchies, and cubes

-Process and deploy a cube

-Develop calculated measures and named sets using MDX

-Browse the cube data using Excel as the client tool

When you start learning SSAS, you should have a reasonable relational database background. But when you start working in a multi-dimensional environment, you need to stop thinking from a two-dimensional (relational database) perspective, which will develop over time.

Installation of saas

gem install compass

Linux / OS X:

sudo gem install compass

For Linux and OS X folks, depending on your setup, you may or may not need to install gems under the sudo user. For example, if you are using RVM, you won’t need to install your gems under the sudo user.

$ sudo gem install compass
Fetching: sass-3.1.3.gem (100%)
Fetching: compass-0.11.3.gem (100%)
Successfully installed sass-3.1.3
Successfully installed chunky_png-1.2.0
Successfully installed fssm-0.2.7
Successfully installed compass-0.11.3
4 gems installed

Advantages of SAAS

Affordable: Unlike traditional software, SaaS is usually sold on a subscription basis that includes upgrades, maintenance and a degree of customer support. SaaS subscription models usually operate on a monthly subscription basis and hence there are no large up-front costs.

Quick to Deploy: With SaaS solutions, all you need is a web browser and internet access, and you’re ready to go. Whereas traditional software can take weeks or even months to deploy, SaaS solutions don’t require any software to be installed and so you are able to access your new software immediately.

Zero Infrastructure: When delivering business applications via SaaS, the complexity of the underlying IT infrastructure is all handled by your SaaS vendor. Users do not need to worry about the maintenance of hardware, or which operating system version supports which database – your SaaS vendor will take care of all of this for you, so you don’t have to.

Seamless Upgrades : Your SaaS provider will manage software updates and upgrades for you, eliminating the need to install or download patches. At any one time, you can be assured that you will always have the most up to date software.

Guaranteed Levels of Service: With most traditional software, you are not given a guarantee on how well it will perform, with SaaS you are. At Workbooks for instance, we guarantee your applications will be available 99.5% of the time. In the event we don’t deliver, which has not happened to date, there are penalties to be paid by us.

Backups and Data Recovery all done for you: If you are familiar with traditional software, you will know that unless a costly automated solution has been implemented, the process of backing up your data on a weekly basis can be laborious at the best of times. SaaS solutions eradicate this painstaking task, instigating automatic backups without user intervention and thus ensuring the integrity of your data.

Work Anywhere: Providing there is an internet connection, SaaS solutions can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Users are able to access their data and work more efficiently from anywhere, making life easier for home-workers or for those people that work across multiple sites.

Security: In many instances, an organization’s’ business information is more secure in a SaaS solution, than in traditional software. At Workbooks for instance, we run two geographically separate datacenters which contact the I.T infrastructure to deliver our applications. In the unfortunate event that a disaster occurs in one of the centers, the second datacenter can continue delivering the Workbooks service.

High Adoption Rates: As SaaS solutions are delivered over the internet, there is virtually no learning curve involved with adopting a new solution as employees tend to already be used to working on the internet.

Long Term Customer Relationship: We believe that this last point to be the most significant. At Workbooks.com we charge you an annual fee for the service. The truth is that by the time we take into account the sales and marketing costs of acquiring a new customer and the money we have spent on the infrastructure we don’t make any profit in the first year of the relationship. So it’s important to us that you are happy with the service and stay with us for several years.

This means we are very focussed on ensuring you remain happy customers over the long term. You can contrast this with traditional software vendors who make the majority of their profit on the initial software license sales and have a relatively small ongoing support fee. Their focus is on getting you to buy the license and not necessarily the longer term view.

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