Book Review “Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services – The BISM Tabular Model”

I’ve recently had the pleasure to read the book “Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services – The BISM Tabular Model” by Marco Russo, Alberto Ferrari, and Chris Webb. The authors don’t need an introduction and their names should be familiar to any BI practitioner. They are all well-known experts and fellow SQL Server MVPs who got together again to write another bestseller after their previous work “Expert Cube Development with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services”. The latest book was published about five months after my book “Applied Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services: Tabular Modeling”. Although both books are on the same topic, we didn’t exchange notes when starting on the book projects. In fact, I was well into writing mine when I learned on the SSAS insider’s discussion list about the trio’s new project. Naturally, you might think that the books compete with each other but after reading Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services – The BISM Tabular Model” I agree with Marco and Chris that the books actually complement each other pretty well.

A central theme of my book is the continuum of Self-service, Team, and Organizational BI. I felt that it is very important to show how Tabular addresses the needs of both business users and BI pros. Indeed, the Tabular journey can start very unassuming, perhaps with a business user creating a simple personal model, gains popularity and evolves to a deployed model shared by teammates, and finally to a corporate model that is provisioned and sanctioned by IT. Because of this, the first part of the book covers PowerPivot for Excel, the second covers PowerPivot for SharePoint, and the third part covers Analysis Services Tabular. Since my book naturally targets different reader audiences (business users, power BI users, and BI pros), I felt that it was imperative to lower the learning curve as much as possible, such as providing step-by-step instructions for the exercises and video tutorials. Writing a book that targets such a broad base is not easy. To make sure that the book will be well accepted, I had readers who represented each of these groups review the manuscript and provide feedback.

On the other hand, Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services – The BISM Tabular Model focuses on the professional side of Analysis Services Tabular and targets mainly BI pros. More than half of the book is devoted on DAX and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better coverage on this topic (a note to myself that DAX deserves more attention if I ever write a revision). Besides DAX, Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services – The BISM Tabular Model covers equally well other aspects of Tabular and the author’s real life experience shows through. My favorite chapters are Chapter 11 “Data Modeling in Tabular” and Chapter 12 “Using Advanced Tabular Relationships”.

All in all, any serious BI pro willing to learn Tabular should have this book on the shelf… I hope next to mine.