Monday, October 04, 2010

Self service enterprise reporting solution for data warehouse powered by SSAS

I'm reading: Self service enterprise reporting solution for data warehouse powered by SSASTweet this !
In a typical Microsoft solution involving MS BI and .NET, after the data warehouse development generally a BI development team hands over the next lap of development to the application development team. BI team and/or App team remains responsible for developing reports that are hosted within the proprietary .NET application and/or Sharepoint portal. The disadvantage is that, it takes away the self-service feature from the business users. When the requirement is "race against time", i.e. when one needs reporting solution asap which can serve enterprise class BI reporting on the top of your data warehouse or cubes, the selection moves towards ready to use reporting solution that can sit on the top of your BI artifacts.

One such solution is a product from Strategy Companion known as Analyzer. This reporting solution is said to be developed using ASP.NET and DHTML. Some of the features that I found pretty regular in line with what other such reporting products might offer are reporting using KPIs and indicators, drag-and-drop report creation, security integration with LDAP and Kerberos, different visualizations and gauges, integration with IE, SSRS, PPS, Sharepoint, Excel. But some of the features are quite impressive which any project would desire, and they are as follows:

1) Zero foot-print installation: Thin client is one of the most sought after requirements for any kind of enterprise wide client access. If you can facilitate your analytics requirement just using a browser, and still facilitate drag-and-drop report creation which for self-service report creation with rich report development features, it's very much favorable for any business.

2) Software as a Service solution: No business would want to invest straight away for a full fledged enterprise wide license, just based on an evaluation version, until and unless the product is a premiere class product listed in Gartner's report. Also small and medium businesses might want such reporting in an on-demand fashion. Analyzer provides the option for an SaaS deployment too.

3) Logic as a service: This is not a standard term, it's just my synonym for the term webservice. Analyzer features can also be used in the form of webservices, to embed reporting functionality in existing applications. This is a nice to have feature, but in my opinion, I would not recommend for this option. Instead there are better options than this, but still if you have deployed Analyzer for your enterprise wide BI reporting requirements, and some proprietary applications might be getting left out, this option can help in such cases.

4) Support for load-balancer / clusters: Analyzer can be deployed on IIS that is deployed on multiple servers and managed by a load balancer.

If I am given the requirement of agile DW development and facilitating reporting on the top of my MS BI artifacts, and provided that neither I do have enough funds to invest into ramping up a team to carry out a full fledged development life cycle nor I have time to wait for the availability of such solution, I would opt for tools driven DW and BI Reporting development. For the same I would pick up products like WhereScape RED for agile DW development and Strategy Companion's Analyzer for BI reporting. I do not intend to say that these are the best options, but these are definitely the two prominent ones.


RAvi said...

hello Siddharth,

My company have been using ProClarity for the BI purpose but now we have to search for the alternative of it. We are researching on few products like Panorama, StrategyCompanion etc but none of these fits to our requirement.

Panorama: I read it does not allow to add/remove filters column wise. If so how can it provide the concept of multidimensional browsing. I am trying to download the trial version of it and verify this thing.

StrategyCompanion: It does not allow to write the MDX queries which is again another big lack. It simply allows to create the calculated measures.

If you have any idea about the above mentioned information, then it would really help for me. And if you have any other alternative then please suggest.

Siddharth Mehta said...

Hi Ravi,

I would not expect a self-service tool to facilitate users writing MDX queries. Entire idea is to insulate business users from this requirement. So we can spare StrategyCompanion.

I have not explored Panorama to greater depth, so I can't comment much on it.

The options that you might want to try out firstly is Powerpivot and for your MDX requirement, DAX stands as it's close cousin. You can model you cubes in powerpivot and use DAX for your cals. Even Panorama builds a layer on powerpivot and provides a few products.

If you are ready to spend on a professional quality tool, I see Tableau as one of the best tools in the league that Proclarity used to be.


RAvi said...

hello Siddharth,

Thanks for your reply and valuable information about the Tableau.At first let me tell you that my company does not only need a BI but a OLAP browser like ProClarity or anyother similar to it which have feautures to browse cube with Dimension and measures,DrillThrough,write MDX query.Reproting and DashBoard feauture is not mandatory.

Therefore our major data source is cube itself.With your suggestion, I tried the trial version of Tableau but I saw some important funtionalities related to cube browsing were missing.

The first thing is there was no option for drill through.
Secondly there was no option to write the MDX queries.
As soon as having these features missing,I thought it is not a solution for my company.However, the UI was pretty impressive and seemed faster than StrategyCompanion.

Your other solution to use powerpivot is completely new for me.I am researching on it as well. I am not sure if it can be used to browse the cube.
I also found Microsoft BI
which integrated Sharepoint,powerpivot and Office.

Again I am not sure if MS BI is simply a BI or also a OLAP browser.
If you could suggest on this, it will be real help.


Anonymous said...


Panorama is one of the best OLAP Clients for SSAS, with all features you are asking for.

ReportPortal might also be interesting as web client for XMLA OLAP MDX Servers, like SSAS and icCube (

Regards, Marco

Anonymous said...

Hi Ravi,

I am also looking for the replacement of ProClarity and the requirements are pretty much same as yours. If you have decided on the tool, could you please let us know what took you chose?


BI4Dynamics said...

If you are looking for prebuilt DWH for MS ERP products, take a loot at BI4Dynamics:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ravi,

Also look at Quipu for Agile DWH,; a very nice open source solution



Related Posts with Thumbnails