Building Your First Cube
I like to introduce people to Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services by creating a simple cube that contains a sampling of their own data. I have to be careful when I do this, though,
because I have been pushed out of my chair on more than one occasion when new users got excited about what they were seeing and wanted to dive right in to explore the data in ways they never before thought possible. Whether you have data of your own you want to explore more easily or a data-hungry user community to support, you'll find SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) provides the tools.
This article is the third installment of a series; the first two articles appeared in the August 2009 issue and are available at technet.microsoft.com/magazine/ee263919.aspx. This series will help you develop a better understanding of business intelligence (BI) by using the components available in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 as you build a simple BI solution. Because I'll be referring to concepts and terminology introduced in the previous two articles, I recommend you take the time to review those articles first if you haven't read them already.
In "Planning Your First BI Solution," I explained the advantages of building a data mart compared with retrieving data directly from a corporate database. I also provided instructions for downloading the sample databases you'll need in order to follow the steps described in these articles. Then Derek Comingore, in "Building a Data Foundation for a BI Solution," explained how to use Integration Services to populate a data mart with data from your corporate database. In this article, I'll show you how to build a cube based on a similar data mart design.