MicroStrategy is a business intelligence (BI), enterprise reporting, and OLAP (on-line analytical processing) software vendor. MicroStrategy’s software allows reporting and analysis of data stored in a relational database, multidimensional database, or flat data file. MicroStrategy describes its core reporting software as having a “ROLAP” or “Relational OLAP” architecture, meaning that a complex relational database can be expressed using a virtual multidimensional cube structure that can be more easily understood by business users who wish to navigate through the data.
- MicroStrategy Architecture
- Data Warehousing Fundamentals in Microstrategy
- Microstrategy Advanced Interview Questions
- MicroStrategy Architect
- MicroStrategy Reporting
Business intelligence (BI) refers to computer-based techniques used in spotting, digging-out, and analyzing business data, such as sales revenue by products and/or departments, or by associated costs and incomes. BI technologies provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations. Common functions of business intelligence technologies are reporting, online analytical processing, analytics, data mining, business performance management, benchmarking, text mining, and predictive analytics.
Business intelligence aims to support better business decision-making. Thus a BIsystem can be called a decision support system (DSS).
Operational systems collect and store business data. These systems usually are databases or mainframes, and the data they store is typically limited to recent or current data.
- ETL software combines, cleanses, and moves data from the different operational systems to an integrated data warehouse.
- The data warehouse is a relational database that stores a long-term history of data, usually two to five years or more.
- The BI platform is where applications are created to analyze and manipulate the data in the data warehouse. The business intelligence platform requirements described in the previous sections are necessary for a well-designed, complete business intelligence solution.
- BI applications used to analyze the data are constructed using the business intelligence platform.
- An extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) process
- A data warehouse—typically an online analytical processing (OLAP) system
- A business intelligence platform such as MicroStrategy
Source systems refer to any system or file that captures or holds data of interest. A bank is an example of a business with many source systems. A source system is usually the most significant site of online transaction processing (OLTP).OLTP systems are databases or mainframes that store real-time processing data.
The extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) process represents all the steps necessary to move data from different source systems to an integrated data warehouse.
The ETL process involves the following steps:
- Data is gathered from various source systems.
- The data is transformed and prepared to be loaded into the data warehouse. Transformation procedures can include converting data type and names, eliminating unwanted data, correcting typographical errors, filling in incomplete data, and similar processes to standardize the format and structure of data.
- The data is loaded into the data warehouse.
A well-designed and robust data warehouse is the source of data for the decision support system or business intelligence system. Data warehouses are usually based on relational databases or some form of relational database management system (RDBMS) platform. These relational databases can be queried directly with Structured Query Language (SQL), a language developed specifically to interact with RDBMS software. However, MicroStrategy does not require that data be stored in a relational database. You can integrate different types of data sources with MicroStrategy such as text files, Excel files, and MDX Cubes.
In combination with MicroStrategy tools and products, the data warehouse also provides the foundation for a robust online analytical processing (OLAP) system. Analytical processing involves activities such as choosing to see sales data by month and selecting the applicable metric to calculate sales trends, growth patterns, percent-to-total contributions, trend reporting, and profit analysis.
MicroStrategy designed and built its MicroStrategy platform from the ground up with the goal of easy Internet accessibility, rapid deployment, fast responses to report requests, and sophisticated analysis and reporting functionality.
The following diagram shows the rich set of business intelligence functionality that the MicroStrategy platform provides.
MicroStrategy Intelligence Server is the architectural foundation of the MicroStrategy platform that ensures the scalability and fault tolerance required for sophisticated analysis of terabyte databases and deployments to millions of users. MicroStrategy Intelligence Server is specifically optimized for all major relational databases and contains the load distribution, prioritization, and system tuning capabilities required for large-scale implementations. It also handles all communication with the relational data warehouse.
Report Services is an available extension to MicroStrategy Intelligence Server that delivers the most flexible report layout, with drag-and-drop simplicity, and provides comprehensive formatting capabilities to MicroStrategy Desktop users. OLAP Services is another available extension to MicroStrategy Intelligence Server that allows MicroStrategy Web and Desktop users to manipulate Intelligent CubesTM. An additional Intelligence Server option is clustering, which lets you join multiple individual servers together without any additional software or hardware components. Built-in failover support ensures that if a server experiences a hardware failure, the remaining MicroStrategy Intelligence Servers pick up the failed jobs.
MicroStrategy Desktop is the business intelligence software component that provides integrated query and reporting, powerful analytics, and decision support workflow of the personal computing desktop. It provides a wide variety of features for online analysis of data. Reports and documents are easy to create and can be viewed in various presentation formats, polished into production reports, distributed to other users, and extended through a host of ad hoc features including drilling, pivoting, and data slicing.
MicroStrategy Web is a powerful and user-friendly environment for interactive analysis. A full set of capabilities for data browsing, drilling, and reporting development enable stream-of-consciousness navigation.
MicroStrategy Office brings business intelligence to the Microsoft Office productivity suite. With simple, one-click access to corporate data, MicroStrategy Office users can run any report from within Excel, Word, or PowerPoint for visually pleasing reports in a familiar environment.
MicroStrategy Architect is a rapid development environment for business intelligence systems. The information-mapping module separates underlying information structures from applications, providing flexibility.
MicroStrategy Object manager
MicroStrategy Object Manager allows you to easily migrate objects from one environment to another using drag-and-drop, copy/paste, and so on. Object Manager also includes a tool called Project Merge that lets you perform bulk object copying.
MicroStrategy Enterprise manager
MicroStrategy Enterprise Manager lets administrators monitor system and report usage, which in turn allows them to develop tuning strategies that can maximize performance.
MicroStrategy Command manager
MicroStrategy Command Manager provides the ability to create text-based scripts and automate common administrative functionality. These text-based scripts can also run from the command line and are therefore available from inside third-party applications. MicroStrategy comes with hundreds of default text scripts.
MicroStrategy SDK creates an open architecture that enables developers to integrate, extend, and fully exploit the power of the MicroStrategy platform through a set of rich APIs that fully expose all platform functionality.
- 1989: MicroStrategy incorporated as a Delaware corporation.
- 1991: EIS Toolkit, MicroStrategy’s first business intelligence software product, is released.
- 1994: MicroStrategy DSS Agent and SQL ROLAP Engine are released, featuring multi-pass SQL. DSS Agent is used to filter business information based on targeted constraints.
- 1995: MicroStrategy DSS Server, a three-tier client/server business intelligence product for ROLAP, is released.
- 1996: MicroStrategy DSS Web is released, allowing users to conduct online analytical processing (OLAP) via the Web. It features the ability to drill data to view a lower level of information detail.
- 1998: MicroStrategy DSS Broadcaster 5 is the first release of a narrowcast server for BI email delivery service. It sends personalized messages to recipients through their email, fax, pager, or mobile phone. This means users do not need to actively log onto an information analysis application – they can set up pre-defined intervals/thresholds for notifications about business metrics.
- 2000: MicroStrategy 7.0, a BI platform with a Web (HTML/XML) interface, is released. It features a revised architecture and multi-level caching. This platform includes the MicroStrategy Intelligence Server, Agent, Web, Architect, and SDK products, and was chosen as PC Magazine Editor’s Choice.
- 2002: MicroStrategy 7.2 adds OLAP Services and introduces in-memory cubes with ROLAP.
- 2003: MicroStrategy 7.5 is released, including MicroStrategy Report Services and MicroStrategy Office, integrating with the Microsoft Office suite (Excel,Word, PowerPoint).
- 2005: MicroStrategy 8.0 is released, updating MicroStrategy’s flagship platform. It uses a WYSIWYG design interface for enterprise reports and dashboards. It also uses PMML as a way to integrate predictive analytics and data mining into BI.
- 2007: MicroStrategy 8.1 release and MicroStrategy Mobile for BlackBerry smartphones are debuted.
- 2009: MicroStrategy 9 is released, with a new multi-source engine and in-memory technology
- 2009: MicroStrategy Reporting Suite is made available.
- 2010: MicroStrategy announces a new release of MicroStrategy Mobile, which extends business intelligence applications to iPhones and iPads.
- Processor: x86 or x64-compatible
- Memory (RAM): 4 GB or more
- Minimum storage space required: Three times the amount of RAM available to Intelligence Server.
- Regardless of Installation path, you must have at least 71 MB of free space on your C: drive for a set of system files that MicroStrategy installs.
- Microsoft Windows 2003, 2008, XP, Vista, 7
- Microsoft Office 2003 or later
- IIS 5.1 or later
- IE 6.0 or higher
- Adobe Reader 7.1 or higher
- Adobe Flash 10.1
PROJECT DESIGN PROCESS
MicroStrategy metadata is a repository that stores MicroStrategy object definitions and information about your data warehouse. The information is stored in a proprietary format within a relational database. The metadata maps MicroStrategy objects—which are used to build reports and analyze data—to your data warehouse structures and data. The metadata also stores the definitions of all objects created with MicroStrategy Desktop and Web such as templates, reports, metrics, facts, and soon
Object Types stored in Metadata
- Configuration objects—Objects that provide important information or governing parameters for connectivity, user privileges, and project administration. Examples include database instances, users, groups, and soon. These objects are not used directly for reporting, but are created by a project architect or administrator to configure and govern the platform.
- Schema objects—Objects that are created in the application to correspond to database objects, such as tables, views, and columns. Schema objects include facts, attributes, hierarchies, and other objects which are stored in the Schema Objects folder in MicroStrategy Desktop’s folder list.
- Application objects—Objects used to provide analysis of and insight into relevant data. Application objects include reports, documents, filters,templates, custom groups, metrics, and prompts. Application objects are created using schema objects as building blocks. All application objects can be created and maintained in MicroStrategy Desktop.
The project source is a configuration object which represents a connection to a metadata repository. In MicroStrategy Desktop, the project source appears in the Folder List with an icon that varies depending on the type of connection it represents.A connection to a metadata repository is achieved in one of two ways:
Direct or two-tier mode: Connects to the metadata by specifying a DSN, login, and password to a metadata repository
Server or three-tier mode: Connects to the metadata by pointing to an Intelligence Server definition, which in turn governs and validates the connection to the metadata. The project metadata is the first tier,MicroStrategy Desktop is the second tier, and Intelligence Server is the third tier. Intelligence Server manages all connections to databases, enforces security, and ensures metadata integrity. For these reasons, Intelligence Server is a necessary part of any production project.
The following diagram illustrates Server connectivity between a MicroStrategy metadata repository, Intelligence Server, and MicroStrategy Desktop. This is the type of connection used to create a production-ready project in MicroStrategy.
A project is where report and document designers locate objects to use on the report or document they are designing, and where they save the completed report/document for analysts to access. A project holds all of the objects your organization develops which need to work together now or in the future, to develop the reports/documents you need for effective business intelligence.
Projects are listed in Desktop’s Folder List, which is displayed on the left as shown in the image below. In MicroStrategy Web, projects are listed on the Projects page when you first open Web, or immediately after you log in, depending on how Web is configured
Project can be created from Project Builder or Project Creation Assistant. Below are the differences between these two.
Project Creation Assistant
Adding Tables using warehouse catalog
The warehouse tables for a project determines the set of data available to be analyzed in the project. You use the Warehouse Catalog to add warehouse tables to your project. The Warehouse Catalog lists all the tables in the data source to which you are connected through your database instance and to which your database login has read privileges.
Creation of facts and attributes will be discusses later in this chapter.
MICROSTRATEGY NARROWCAST SERVER
MicroStrategy Narrowcast Server is an information delivery platform. Due to its open modular architecture, the Narrowcast Server can acquire reports from MicroStrategy projects, as well as other information sources, and deliver messages via e-mail and other delivery methods. In addition, MicroStrategy Narrowcast Server Subscription Portal allows users to subscribe to Narrowcast Server services using a Web browser.
A service is the fundamental tool that you use to deliver information using Narrowcast Server. A service defines some set of information that should be delivered, how this information should be delivered, a set of users who want to receive this information, and the schedule on which they would like to receive it.
The Service Wizard is the recommended way to create services.
Services can be delivered by one or more means such as via e-mail, to wireless devices, to the Subscription Portal, via voice, and so forth. Each means of delivering a message is called a delivery method. The name of each information transmitter is listed in the Delivery Methods section of the Service Wizard. By default, Narrowcast Server provides e-mail, wireless, print, file, SMS, and Web information transmitters. As a result, these options appear on the Service Wizard’s Delivery Methods page.
Each delivery method is supported by a single publication, which specifies the content to be delivered. It is the information transmitter for a publication that specifies which content sections the publication provides to the application designer and which types of content each section can accept.
For example, the E-mail (SMTP) information transmitter informs publications for the E-mail (SMTP) delivery method that a message subject, message body, and a section for attachments should be provided.
A schedule sets the times or frequencies a service is executed and represents a recurrence pattern, not a fixed date on which to send the service.
MicroStrategy Narrowcast Server uses the following objects to answer these questions:
Dynamic Content and Personalization
The true power of Narrowcast Server comes from content that is determined at service execution time and can vary from recipient to recipient or from execution to execution. This type of content is called dynamic content. Like static content, dynamic content is added to documents, but dynamic content may be personalized so that each recipient receives information that is relevant for him.
Narrowcast Server uses Information Objects to retrieve dynamic content from external sources such as MicroStrategy projects, database queries, or external systems.
An information object is a set of instructions specifying how to get data from an external information source.
Information objects can serve three roles in Narrowcast Server:
- content, which supply data for documents
- subscription, which provide subscription information for dynamic subscription sets within the services
- segment, which control how dynamic subscription sets are segmented
Narrowcast Server also provides the ability to insert information about message recipients into service content. This capability allows you to personalize messages using user information and create message content such as “Dear Mr. Smith,” or include any other user-related information such as title, state, or zip code.
The following user information is available by default in Narrowcast Server:
- first name last name middle initial salutation suffix
- street address city
- state country zip code
- custom combination (returns XML string with all user details)
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