Speaking the language of business intelligence with an Australian accent

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Book Review - Applied Microsoft Analysis Services 2005

Applied Microsoft Analysis Services 2005 : And Microsoft Business Intelligence Platform by Teo Lachev.

If you're looking for a book to either get you started or get right down and dirty with SSAS then this is the one you need. Actually it is the only SSAS book on the market at present. That fact alone makes the content of this book even more impressive than it is already. It was released a little over one month after SQL 2005 hit the streets in early Nov '05. I understand more and more just how difficult it must be for technical authors to write books on products that are still being built, the veritable moving target. I recently exchanged a couple of emails with Chris Webb and brought up the topic of Teo's latest work. To quote Chris directly: "he must have sweated blood to get it finished when he did". I agree. The tone of the book makes you forget that the product was probably still very much in beta when he wrote the 670-ish pages of very rich, well-researched content.

So what's in it? Well, everything you need to get a great start in making the most of SSAS. Also plenty of deep technical detail for the seasoned OLAP specialist who wants to get across as much of the new product as possible. Something for everyone.

Analysis Services is a very large subject area encompassing several topics that warrant a book in themselves, particularly Data Mining and MDX. The book gives great overall coverage of these two areas, which then affords the reader the opportunity to further expand their newly found knowledge with, you guessed it, more books. SQL Server 2005 Data Mining by ZaoHui Tang and Jamie MacLennan is available now and is another must have SSAS reference book. I've also been eagerly awaiting the arrival of what I expect will be the 2005 MDX Bible: MDX Solutions 2nd edition by George Spofford, Sivakumar Harinath, Chris Webb, Dylan Hai Huang, Francesco Civardi. Hopefully it will be available very soon.

As I mentioned above both beginners and pros will get a great deal out of this book. There is plenty of sample code & complete solutions to either pick apart yourself or follow along with the many relevant and useful step-by-step examples. For those who wish to dive into the world of XMLA, AMO, ADOMD.NET there are plenty of code samples and sample apps along with good advice on best practices for accessing multi-dimensional data programatically. Summarised at the end of each chapter you will also find Shrinkster-ized links to relevant whitepapers, articles, blogs and other web resources; all adding more value & meaning to the content of the preceding pages. Teo has also managed to get chapters in about Business Scorecard Manager 2005 and accessing UDM data through MS Office and OWC.

I was really at odds as to how I would write this review. There is just so much depth and detail all the way through the book. Writing on all the things I liked would just take far too long. I would have expected (hoped) to find a book of this depth and quality on the shelves once the product had been on the market for at least a year, maybe more. There are certainly a couple of other SSAS books on the horizon, but not only has Teo beaten them to the punch by publishing first I think he has produced what should (will) be considered the SSAS Bible.

Buy this book.

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