Alan Whitehouse's Ramblings

Continuing to work until my heavy investment in lottery tickets finally pays off….

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Archive for the ‘SQL Server’ Category

Creating a Microsoft BI Demo Environment

Posted by Alan on October 26, 2011

One of the big struggles I have had over the past few years is the ability to do a comprehensive sales, proof of concept or training demo that covers the entire Microsoft BI Stack and always being able to present practically anything in any combination without the luxury of a huge lead time.  Why has this been a problem?  Well it is all due to the fact that the robustness of the Microsoft BI stack is really a double-edged sword.  On the positive side, I have a ton of great functionality to choose from that can be molded to fit the unique needs of the client.  On the downside side, staying on top of all the potential moving parts has become more and more difficult over time as the product line has grown.

So up to this point I have been pretty much been relying upon the virtual images that Microsoft creates, albeit it with tweaks and modifications of my own.  Over the course of time I have worked with many versions of the Microsoft All-Up BI demo.  The 7.1 version was a great start and the first one with which I ever worked.  I am not sure if a 8.x image was ever produced, but if it was I don’t believe it was ever made available to the general public.  The 9.2 image sucked big time and that is an understatement.  And the latest image entitled “X” (for 10 I assume) is fantastic and really shows the potential of the products and has a great deal of “eye candy” as well.  In fact, you can visit the Microsoft Online Demo Solutions site and check out 9.5 and X and judge for yourself.

Now I know Microsoft puts in a lot of effort into these and for the most part does a great job, but all these images share one fatal flaw.  Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Business Intelligence, Excel, Microsoft, Office, PerformancePoint, PowerPivot, SharePoint, SQL Server | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Update on the TGO Planning Solution

Posted by Alan on October 7, 2011

It has been a while since I did any serious posting.  My off hours have been busy with summer activities (mostly drinking beer and mojitos on the back deck) and work has been consumed with our new planning solution.  Any of you who have followed me know about my long and sordid history with planning solutions.  To avoid the pains of the past we here at TGO Consulting decided to take matters into our own hands and over the past 6 months have been working on building our own solution.

I am very happy to report that a half-year of joy, frustration, awe, anger and a dozen other emotions has finally resulted in our first release.  Below is our first semi-formal write-up for True Sky Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting.  I am sure it will undergo some marketing transformations as we refine our message, but it should give you a good overview of what we have accomplished.

* * * * * *
True Sky Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting™ is a powerful and flexible solution that helps organizations manage and streamline their planning process.  The basic philosophy of True Sky™ can best be described as:

  • Budget in Excel
  • Manage in SharePoint
  • Store in SQL Server

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Excel, SharePoint, SQL Server, True Sky Planning | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Microsoft Business Intelligence Stack Cheat Sheet

Posted by Alan on April 7, 2011

Two questions I tend to get asked over and over again are:

  1. Exactly what products are you talking about when you refer to the Microsoft BI stack?
  2. Where do I get more information on a particular product in the stack?

So being the lazy and generally unsociable person I am, I decided to bite the bullet and create a post that I could just point people to rather than having to retype my answers over and over again.  So below are the components that I consider part of the Microsoft BI solution offering, as well as some links to more information on those products.  If I have missed anything or if you have some suggestions for some additional/better links drop me a line and I will add it to the list.  I am also going to pin this to my main navigation bar so people can find it easily.  So without further adieu here is the list:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Excel, Microsoft, Office, PerformancePoint, PowerPivot, SharePoint, SQL Server | Tagged: , , | 25 Comments »

TGO Budgeting Solution – Relational vs. OLAP

Posted by Alan on January 27, 2011

As we were brainstorming the design for the TGO Budgeting Solution we eventually touched upon the topic of the back-end storage model and whether we should go with a solution that is primarily relational or “cubular” in nature.  

[NOTE:  I am not sure if “cubular” is a real word or not, but those of us in the BI group here TGO Consulting use it in day-to-day conversation.  So if it isn’t a real word then consider this post is me copyrighting the term right now.  Over the course of time you will see more of these wacky words we are trying to get into the mainstream vernacular.]  

So in the past, along with Excel, I have worked with solutions that were completely relational based (i.e., Forecaster), those that were primarily relational based but with some smattering of OLAP (i.e., Enterprise Reporter), those that were fully OLAP based (i.e, PerformancePoint Planning) and those that utilized a combination of the two (i.e., Clarity CPM).  The fact that I have worked with 4 different structured solutions, that were created by 4 different developers and there are 4 different storage models, pretty much shows that there is no one general consensus of the best way to design the storage for an enterprise planning solution. 

No clear winner in this arena meant we had to make this decision for ourselves.  To aid our decision process we laid out the pros and cons of each type of storage model into an all encompassing matrix.  A  cut-down, bullet point version of our matrix is shown below: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in SQL Server, True Sky Planning | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »