Saturday, October 06, 2012

Using Microsoft Office Project Server with MS BI ( SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS )

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Microsoft Office Project Server (MSPS) is one of the healthiest source of data in the microsoft ecosystem. Many departments especially CIOs have the greatest potential and probability to make extensive use of the data contained in Project Server. Almost every organizations have different projects for which they carry out planning, tracking, monitoring, resource assignments and related activities. MS Project Server is a chef's knife for this purpose.

From a technical standpoint, the way MSPS stores data is very interesting. Like Sharepoint, it stores data internally into SQL Server. But unlike Sharepoint, it gives a very neat and clean mechanism to use to data it stores internally in the form of a database intended for reporting known as Reporting database and is operated using a service known as Report Data Service. Also it has a service called Cube Build service (CBS), which can be operated using a web based console known as Project Web App (PWA).

The Reporting database (RDB) is the staging area for generating reports and OLAP cubes. Data in the Reporting database is comprehensive and is updated nearly in real time. The tables and views are optimized for read-only report generation; for example, the RDB tables are denormalized to provide redundant data and reduce the number of relational tables. As data is updated in real time in RDB, in case if you are considering extracting data from it to some other data store, consider reading how data gets to the RDB and Report Data Service. Schema documentation of the reporting database as well as the OLAP cubes is available and  can be downloaded from Project 2010 Reference: Software Development Kit, in the documentation\schemas subdirectory.

Microsot Office Project Server 2010 Architecture Diagram can be seen below:

As apparent in the above diagram, MS Project Server is very well integrated with Sharepoint 2010. Hence using reporting related tools like Excel Services, Performancepoint Services and BI + Dashboarding capabilities in-built into Sharepoint, a rich reporting platform can be provided to end users from data contained into Project Server 2010.

From an MS BI perspective,
  • SSIS can be used to extract data from reporting database and merge this data into a corporate warehouse
  • SSAS can be used to source and enhance cubes and OLAP database exposed by project server
  • SSRS can be used to generate reports on the top of OLTP reporting database and cubes contained in OLAP database exposed by Project Server.
I seriously wish that perhaps Sharepoint can expose such databases for reporting and analysis, as that makes it very easy to facilitate reporting and analysis of the content stored in sharepoint.

To understand more about Project Server, you should consider reading about Project Server Architecture and Project Server Programmability. Also consider reading more about how to configure reporting for Project Server 2010.

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