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Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services

3.5 2
by Edward Melomed, Irina Gorbach, Alexander Berger, Py Bateman

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Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services provides fast access to data by means of multidimensional data structures and the multidimensional query languag MDX. Analysis Services provides the capability to design, create, and manage multidimensional cubes based on data warehouse tables, and it serves as the foundation for the Microsoft  Business Intelligence


Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services provides fast access to data by means of multidimensional data structures and the multidimensional query languag MDX. Analysis Services provides the capability to design, create, and manage multidimensional cubes based on data warehouse tables, and it serves as the foundation for the Microsoft  Business Intelligence strategy.


Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services gives the reader insight into the way Analysis Services functions. It not only explains ways to design and create multidimensional objects, databases, dimensions, and cubes, but also provides invaluable information about the reasons behind design decisions made by the development team. 


Here's what you will find inside:

  • Understand the key concepts of multidimensional modeling
  • Explore the multidimensional object model and its definition language
  • Learn the main concepts of the MDX language and gain an in-depth understanding of advanced MDX concepts
  • Understand the mechanisms of integrating multidimensional and relational databases
  • Learn how to build client applications to access data in Analysis Services
  • Examine server architecture, including main data structures, data processing, and query resolution algorithms
  • Gain a deep understanding of the internal and external protocols for data transfer, including the XML/A protocol
  • Explore how Analysis Services manages memory
  • Explore the security model, including role-based security, code-access security, and data security
  • Discover how to monitor and manage Analysis Services

All the code for the sample database used in the book can be found at www.informit.com/title/0672327821.

Product Details

Pearson Education
Publication date:
SQL Server Series
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Barnes & Noble
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27 MB
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Read an Excerpt


It was a pleasure to be asked to write the foreword to this new book, which is remarkable for two reasons:

  • People who have spent five years developing a product are normally more than ready to move on to the next release once the product is finally ready for release. Indeed, long before a new version gets into customers' hands, the developers are normally already working on the next release. So, for the actual developers to spend the considerable time that this book must have taken to write a lengthy, detailed book on it is very rare.
  • In my years as an industry analyst with The OLAP Report, and much earlier as a product manager, I have rarely come across developers who are prepared to provide such chapter and verse information on exactly how a product works. Even under NDA, few software vendors are prepared to volunteer this level of inside information.

But why should this be of interest to anyone who isn't an OLAP server developer? Why should a mere user or even an application developer care about what exactly happens under the hood, any more than ordinary car drivers needs to know the details of exactly how their car's engine management system works?

There are some good reasons why this is relevant. Analysis Services is now by far the most widely used OLAP server, which inevitably means that most of its users are new to OLAP. The OLAP Surveys have consistently found that the main reason for the choice is price and the fact that it is bundled with SQL Server, rather than performance, scalability, ease of use, or functionality.

This is not to say that Analysis Services lacks these capabilities; just thattypical Analysis Services buyers are less concerned about them than are the buyers of other products. But when they come to build applications, they certainly will need to take these factors into account, and this book will help them succeed. Just because Analysis Services is perceived as being a low-cost, bundled product does not mean that it is a small, simple add-on: particularly in the 2005 release, it is an ambitious, complex, sophisticated product. How it works is far from obvious, and how to make the most of it requires more than guesswork.

Many of the new Analysis Services users will have used relational databases previously, and will assume that OLAP databases are similar. They are not, despite the superficial similarities between MDX and SQL. You really need to think multidimensionally, and understand how Analysis Services cubes work.

Even users with experience of other OLAP servers will find that they differ from each other much more than do relational databases. If you start using Analysis Services without understanding the differences and without knowing how Analysis Services really works, you will surely store up problems for the future. Even if you manage to get the right results now, you may well compromise the performance and future maintainability of the application.

The OLAP Surveys have consistently found that if there is one thing that really matters with OLAP, it is a fast query response. Slow performance is the biggest single product-related complaint from OLAP users in general, and Analysis Services users are no different. Slow query performance was also the biggest technical deterrent to wider deployment.

Many people hope that ever improving hardware performance will let them off the hook: If the application is too slow, just rely on the next generation of faster hardware to solve the problem. But results from The OLAP Surveys show that this will not work—the rate of performance complaints has gone up every year, whether actual query performance has improved or not. In an era when everyone expects free sub-second Web searches of billions of documents, books, and newsgroup postings, they are no longer willing to wait five or ten seconds for a simple management report from a modest internal database. It is not enough for an OLAP application to be faster than the spreadsheet or relational application it replaced—it must be as fast as other systems that we all use every day.

The good news is that fast query performance is possible if you take full advantage of the OLAP server's capabilities: The OLAP Survey 6 found that 57% of Analysis Services 2005 users reported that their typical query response was less than five seconds. This was the traditional benchmark target query time, but in the new era of instant Web searches, I think the new target should be reduced to one second. This is a tough target, and will require application developers to really know what they are doing, and to take the time to optimize their systems.

This is where this book comes in. The authors—who have been involved with Analysis Services from its earliest days, long before it was called Analysis Services—have documented, in detail, what really happens inside Analysis Services 2005, right down to the bit structure of data records. Along the way, numerous controllable parameters are described, with helpful information about how they cause memory or other computer resources to be used.

This book is not intended to teach new users how to use Analysis Services 2005; it is for technically competent implementers who want to make the most of Analysis Services by understanding how it really works, as described by those who really know, unlike other books written by external authors who sometimes have to speculate. If you are new to Analysis Services, you probably need to start with a "how do I?" book or course, rather than a "what happens inside?" book like this one.

Nigel Pendse

Editor of The OLAP Report
Author of The OLAP Survey

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Edward Melomed is one of the original members of the Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services team. He arrived in Redmond as a part of Microsoft's acquisition of Panorama Software Systems, Inc., which led to the technology that gave rise to Analysis Services 2005. He works as a program manager and plays a major role in the infrastructure design for the Analysis Services engine.


Irina Gorbach is a senior software designer on the Analysis Services team, which she joined soon after its creation nine years ago. During her time at Microsoft, Irina has designed and developed many features, was responsible for client subsystems OLEDB and ADOMD.NET, and was in the original group of architects that designed the XML for Analysis specification. Recently she has been working on the architecture and design of calculation algorithms.


Alexander Berger was one of the first developers to work on OLAP systems at Panorama. After it was acquired by Microsoft, he led the development of Microsoft OLAP Server through all its major releases. He is one of the architects of OLEDB for the OLAP standard and MDX language, and holds more than 30 patents in the area of multidimensional databases.


Py Bateman is a technical writer at Microsoft. She originally hails from Texas, which was considered a separate country on the multinational Analysis Services team.


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Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book teaches a means of analysing massive data sets, that is different from SQL, but which can be applied to SQL databases. Called MDX, it lets you, the analyst, define a hyperspace of several dimensions, where the number of dimensions can be greater than 3. Along each axis, there is a discrete set of values. Unlike engineering or physics analysis, where the spaces often take on continuum values. The authors show how MDX comes with a rich set of built in functions. But you can also easily write your own, that use these, or start from scratch. The Analysis Service version 2005 encompasses MDX, along with a user interface. The MDX syntax borrows deliberately in part from SQL, since as a practical matter, many of its users will come from a SQL background. But for analysis, it is often superior, offering a more flexible and intuitive syntax geared towards analysis. One potential 'problem', which is not mentioned, is that if you get used to the MDX syntax, going back to writing code for a strict SQL application might now seem so constricting. Of course, this is scarcely MDX's fault. The book's chapters are often quite short ('bite-sized') and are easy to follow.