• Power BI vs. Pyramid

    August 16, 2017 / No Comments » / 772 Views

    I've never thought I'd see this one coming but today I got a marketing email from Pyramid Analytics (previously an ardent Microsoft partner) citing a head-to-head comparison with Power BI. Et tu, Brute? "Let’s start with a clear pricing model – one that doesn’t require an online calculator to figure out annual costs. Let’s add in fundamental capabilities and features like dashboarding, KPI’s, dicing, time intelligence, parameterization, and asymmetric reporting. Let’s close out with a complete lack of narrative reporting capabilities. The Pyramid Analytics platform provides an enterprise class on-premises BI solution that delivers all of the above plus simple advanced analytics. It’s available now and at a price you can easily understand. There's a clear choice. Click here for a head-to-head comparison and a limited time offer" I pity any vendor that competes with Power BI, especially the ones that compete "head-to-head". Pyramid must feel the heat to come...

  • Creating PBI Detail Reports

    August 12, 2017 / No Comments » / 3034 Views

    Related to the previous blog, let's show how to create a detail report in Power BI that mimics an Excel PivotTable report in a flattened layout. Consider the report below. To create it, use the Matrix visual and add the necessary fields to the Rows bucket and measures to the Values bucket. By default and similar to Excel, Matrix would use a Stepped layout so that each time you expand a field, the next field would use the same column to minimize horizontal space. In the Format tab, in the "Row headers" section there is a setting "Stepped layout" that is easy to miss. When you switch it to Off, Matrix is now configured to mimic the Excel Tabular (flattened) report layout. Now right-click on the report each field that you want to expand, and then click "Expand to next level". There are currently two limitations that I hope will...

  • Considerations for Detail Reports

    August 12, 2017 / No Comments » / 1949 Views

    Nobody likes watching a report spinny. Interactive detail reports that perform well from an Analysis Services semantic layer have been the bane of my BI career. A "detail report" is a report that requests data at a lower level, e.g. policy in the insurance business, customer in Sales, etc. A detail report typically has many dimension attributes, eustomer Name, Account Number, Product Name, Product Number, etc. And, the more columns you add, the slower the report gets. The reason why such reports don't typically perform so well when generated from a semantic layer is that Analysis Services is not SQL Server. Multidimensional is an attribute-based model and the server cross joins the member values when you add attributes to the report. Don't be misled by the "relational" nature of Tabular either. Its database engine (xVelocity) is an in-memory columnar database that still cross joins the column values. That said, Tabular...

  • MVP For 14 Years!

    July 11, 2017 / No Comments » / 946 Views

    Got awarded for Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) - Data Platform again. This will make my 14th consecutive year to be recognized by Microsoft for my expertise and contributions to the community! Apparently, it became difficult (or not cost effective) to count years, so the ring is for 2017-2018 but the tower doesn't lie.

  • What’s ROI for BI?

    June 29, 2017 / No Comments » / 18223 Views

    I often ask prospects if they've done any estimates of the value that the envisioned BI solution would bring to them. The Microsoft Solution Framework actually recommends partners do this during the planning phase. Alas, the answer is almost always negative. Then I ask what criteria would be used to evaluate if my price (I give fixed value-based prices as I don't sell time) would yield a good ROI and then there is an awkward pause. Instead, the buyer typically uses a top-down approach for selecting a consultant. The buyer either has some budget constraints and solicits multiple quotes to find the "best" fit. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, given that ROI for BI is notoriously difficult to determine. Consultancies and advisory firms have some sort of a "seat-of-the-pants" methodology to help the customer come up with ROI if this is deemed important. But you might not...

  • Running ETL on AlwaysOn Primary Replica

    June 28, 2017 / No Comments » / 7949 Views

    Scenario: Consider a SQL Server configured for AlwaysOn Availability Groups where a set of databases can fail over to another node. You have SSIS jobs and you created them on both nodes. However, you need to check if the current node on which the job is running is the primary node. If you don't do this, the job fails because the database isn't accessible. Solution: In every SQL Server Agent Job, add a first step to check if one of the replicated databases in the AlwaysOn availability group is the primary replica: IF sys.fn_hadr_is_primary_replica ('<replicated dataset name here>') = 0 BEGIN EXEC msdb..sp_stop_job N'DW Daily Load'; END This script checks if the database is a primary replica. If this is not the case, the script stops the next step, which in this case is the "DW Daily Load" step.

  • Power BI vs. Qlik

    June 22, 2017 / 9 Comments » / 1413 Views

    After Tableau and SiSense, Keeping 'em Honest continues with Qlik. Now, after they sold the company and took a hit in the latest Gartner's quadrant, I didn't expect much of a completion from Qlik but every now and then I run into a customer considering Qlik and willing to share Qlik's feedback on how Qlik outshines Power BI in every possible way (can't share these documents due to NDA although they are interesting and entertaining stories). But to be fair to Power BI, I'll enumerate next a few reasons that customers have shared of why they prefer Power BI over Qlik and from my experience in in helping several customers transition to Power BI from Qlik. I'll focus on Qlik Sense, which is the Qlik's latest tool that competes head to head with Power BI. Chasing the perfect tool (hint: there is none)? Instead, focus on architecture and data quality....

  • Scaling out SSIS in SQL Server 2017

    June 11, 2017 / No Comments » / 7107 Views

    SQL Server 2017 introduces the ability to scale out SSIS. The primary scenario is to enable customers to scale out their SSIS execution at the package level. Imagine a retail business that has about 300 packages to run at the end of the day to push transactional data/finance data from multiple stores to the centralized data warehouse for reporting. All the 300 packages need to run at night but they also need to finish by 6 AM in the morning before new business day starts. As business grows, data size grows, and it takes longer time to run the 300 packages and it is becoming more difficult for the ETL processing window to finish before 6 AM. With SSIS scale out feature, you can now set up the scale out cluster with 1 master and N workers, so that the master can automatically distribute the packages to the workers based...

  • Power BI Excel Publisher Doesn’t Load

    June 1, 2017 / No Comments » / 4070 Views

    Issue: You want to use the Power BI Excel Publisher but it doesn't load. You look at the Excel add-ins and you see that it's deactivated. You try to activate it and then you get an error. Solution: Copy the following Office PIA files to the add-in folder (C:\Program Files\Microsoft Power BI Publisher for Excel\bin). Microsoft.Office.Interop.SQLIS.12.0.nupkg OFFICE.dll Unfortunately, I don't know where these files are located. They were given to me by the Microsoft Support and I can't redistribute. If you can't find them, you can call MS support and reference support case: 117041015581533. Now when you open Excel, you should see the Power BI ribbon tab.

  • “Understanding Power BI Premium” Events

    May 31, 2017 / No Comments » / 7240 Views

    I'll present "Understanding Power BI Premium" at three public events in June. June 8th, Carolinas Power BI Group in Greensville, SC at 6 PM June 24th, SQL Saturday Chattanooga, TN at 1:15 PM June 26th, Atlanta MS BI and Power BI Group, Atlanta, GA at 6:30 PM My calendar has the details. Microsoft Power BI has enjoyed a lot of attention and success since it became generally available in July 2015.  But its licensing model and cloud-hosted limitations barred wide adoption, especially with larger organizations. The recently introduced Power BI Premium will change all of this. Join this session to learn how Power BI Premium will allow your organization to achieve: • Flexibility to license by capacity • Greater scale and performance • Extending on-premises reporting with Power BI Report Server • Embedded analytics

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