Speaking the language of business intelligence with an Australian accent

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Review: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services

Full disclosure: The authors of this book provided me with a free review copy.

Time to dust off this blog and post something. Wow, has it been that long?

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services is just what I look for when I want to get up and running with a new product. Jeremy, Tim and Martyn have written a book for getting up to speed on just about every aspect of MDS. Experienced users can use the book to ensure existing knowledge gaps are filled and experiment with more advanced functionality.

I’m a big fan of technical books like this one: Explain the concept, take the reader through step-by-step instructions, build on what has been created in previous examples. By the time the reader has finished the book they have created a set of interrelated artifacts and performed tasks that touch almost all the major functional areas of the product.

The authors didn’t stop at the basic functionality of MDS, a significant portion of the book is dedicated to the more advanced aspects of the product. T-SQL / SSIS based data loads, integration with SharePoint workflows, BizTalk and the MDS API are all covered. Lots of useful sample code and reference material earns the book a place on the within-easy-reach shelf.

Kudos to the authors for not making the book too heavy on the process rigor of master data management. They are careful to keep focus on setup, usage and extensibility of the product on which the book is based. Extra credit must also be given in that they managed to make the UI look simple and intuitive; the MDS web UI must be one of the clunkiest and difficult-to-use that I have had the displeasure to work with. The book makes it look easy. Hopefully MS is addressing this large shortfall in what is otherwise a pretty solid V1 product.

As when reviewing Alberto, Chris & Marco’s "Expert Cube Development" book, my primary criticism remains directed at the book’s publisher, not its authors. Packt’s layout formula does not recognize the importance of reference numbers and caption text beneath screenshots, tables and figures. In this day and age publishers are focusing more on delivering content digitally. The layout of digital publications is often performed dynamically on devices such as the Kindle or iPad, as a result what is considered “a page” is not necessarily the same because each reader’s personal settings may differ. Text referring to “the screenshot above” or “the previous page” may not necessarily be accurate or helpful. Which page? Which screenshot? Annoying. What is so difficult about “refer to Figure 1.2”, or “as listed in Table 3.4”?

All in all this is a book well worth getting hold of if you want to get stuck into all aspects of MDS from installation to advanced usage.


Andy said...

I've been reading this book for the last couple of weeks now to get a basic understanding of the technical world of MDM. I'm finding it easy going enough (I'm a database developer with leanings towards data warehousing) and the examples are well thought out. Definitely enough to get a small scale proof of concept project going for anyone with Enterprise.

By the way, found your blog whilst Googling "What are the tblstgmember and tblstgmemberattribute tables?" as I was trying to work out how the data is imported for processing.

I've just worked through your Beginning MDS examples, very good and clears up that question for me!

Nick Barclay said...

Thanks Andy. Glad you found them of use.

BTW - if you're looking at MDS I would invest a bit more time in looking at the RC0 release of the product that is bundled with SQL 2012. Some much needed improvements and Excel integration goodness there.

Andy said...

OK will do, I had planned to do that at some point as I thought MS must surely have made some improvements to MDS in 2012.

Looking at MSDN this caught my eye "A new, higher performance staging process has been implemented in Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Release Candidate 0 (RC 0)."

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Alexander E. Dy Tsoi said...

I'm studying the Windows server 2012 R2 course, I should have master 2008 before I go to 2012 R2. I will follow your steps Nick. And thanks for giving me advice...

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