I recently completed a business intelligence project at my company that included things like aggregating data from various sources into a centralized data warehouse, and then processing that so it could be accessed through both an OLAP cube and a relatively simple relationship database. I believe the project was a complete success, and am very happy with the both the functionality we provide to our end-users (who are regular business people, and not just analysts) as well as how easy to maintain and robust the end-solution is. I think that last part is what probably gets most companies. They develop some type of data warehouse for business intelligence, but it is a house of cards that just continually sucks their time because it is so fragile or always needs to be updated to allow a business analyst to slice or view the data in a new way. I can definitely see how you could end up there, and I believe this book was the primary contributor to the success of our project.
I work for a small business (currently ~65 employees), and right now our IT Team has three members: 1 system admin, 1 full-time developer, and me (my time is split half and half between software and business management). None of us had any experience with OLAP, SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), or SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) ... although I had sat through a few sessions/workshops over these topics at conferences. Although it is counter-intuitive (especially to someone who is a developer at heart), I have come to believe in the notion that the sooner you start coding the longer it will take. So, I knew I needed to get some more in-depth expertise in these areas before we started the project, which is why I ordered this book.
Before I even created the first prototype, I forced myself to sit down away from the computer and read the first two parts of the book (~400 pages). It it was eerie how much the content seemed custom-tailored to my current situation. It was targeted at a more technical audience, so the detail and depth used was spot on, and it assumed you had some working knowledge of OLTP relational databases so it didn't have to go over all the basics.
The book covers a ton of best practices that the authors have learned "the hard way" while implementing a ton of business intelligence solutions on the SQL Server framework, and most of them were not entirely obvious. The whole business intelligence area is still in its early phases, and there are a lot of gotchas. SQL Server 2008 has made some significant improvements over past implementations to help guide you to best practices, but there are still a lot of gotchas. The authors also demostrate an in-depth knowlegde on the new features SQL Server 2008 offers, plus then explain when/how you might use them.
At 624 pages, this book may seem a little overwhelming ... but I think it is worth its weight in gold. It is almost like you have an experienced consultant sitting beside you. If you are considering implementing a business intelligence solution, there are tips in this book will save you time, effort, and you will end up with a better solution for your business in the end.
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