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Instant Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2012 Dimensions and Cube Book Review

Instant Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2012 Dimensions and Cube

If you have suddenly found yourself in a hurry implementing the Microsoft Analysis Services 2012 (OLAP), you may consider getting the “Instant” book from Packt: Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2012 Dimensions and Cube (available as an eBook only at the time of writing) by Anurag Acharya. Book site /

By the way, I like the concept of the “Instant” books, if in yesterday’s IT a task was supposed to be implemented yesterday, in today’s IT the whole project has been. So as a result there is very little time (means money) left even scouting the internet. That makes me believe such concise material must be very much in demand and the ebook format only makes a lot of sense to me.

Unfortunately, this book has quite a few quirks.

#1: Be aware the book walks you through only the vanilla, or so called default, installation with some minor (and potentially impacting) tweaks. More on that expanded below.

#2: The book at times has some odd, or let me state that politically correct, strange jargon or style of writing (still not 100% sure what caused this) which does not fall in my opinion into a typical "technical” publication. Here are a few examples: “Enlarging physical security” is a header section to a pre-installation step of SQL Server. Or how come we ended up with three dimensions (p. 51)? Or stating SQL Server has supplementary peripherals? This is probably the same as saying a chicken is more important than eggs. Besides, for example, to run SSAS we don’t even need to install the SQL Server database engine itself as well as many other shared components are not needed (reference http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms144288%28v=sql.90%29.aspx).

#3: Despite its title, the book actually devotes VERY little time to SSAS (OLAP) as a subject. The Cube and Dimension Wizards are the only two SSAS related things covered. Please note that there is no any early reference to what database was used to produce them. I assume the AdventureWorksDW was, but who knows? There was nothing on how to use the cube. Or integrate it say with the installed SSRS engine.

In short, if I would be asked to sum-up my impressions after reading this book in three words I would say: “This book is everything about SQL Server 2012 and nothing, all at the same time”.

I can’t also wait to state this book is borrowing content from the SQL Server Books Online a lot and numerous portions in it are simply one to one copy-pastes (for example, try searching for text in the book copied from the second sentence at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/library/ms174878.aspx) and so on.

If you are still reading my review, now is the time to elaborate on the weak statements and ill-fated advices: some sentences I cannot digest as “If we install and run separate SQL services, the risk of data theft is reduced.”, after all, the SQL Server Installer does not allow merging services; I believe the real intent was to convey to the reader not to install un-necessary services. But I hardly can agree it imposes a significant threat to the data storage engine because it is rare/impossible the same account running the services would be used to connect to the databases. Notably, regardless, the author chose to install all the features (page 11). The next paragraph thereafter advocates disabling some features as NetBIOS and SMB. This needs to be exercised with extreme caution and a lot of testing. The implications of disabling the NetBIOS functionality are as severe as an inability to connect, getting name resolution errors and inability to failover, to name a few. If SSAS and/or the other SQL Server components are not (and typically never) installed in an environment exposed to the Internet I see no point in doing this adjustment.

As a side note, I read this book on my Windows 7 Dell Latitude laptop in PDF format using the free Adobe Reader and on my newly acquired Samsung Galaxy Note 8” tablet with MoonReader Pro. The experience with both was very good, the navigation piece was much easier on the computer side though, but I do not think it is the publisher that is responsible.

In terms of closing, I feel I am a tad harsh on the author, but I suspect this probably is due to me being gotten used to acquiring world class content from well established authors, so I should not blame Anurag too much.

Well, to wrap the review up and be honest with myself, I am giving this book a 2 out of 5 star rating taking into consideration it is not a big monetary investment, and that it expands on the top 5 SQL Server 2012 features us, BI folks have to be aware of, but hey, still, who needs yet another copy of the BOL?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 5:25 PM

Feedback

# re: Instant Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2012 Dimensions and Cube Book Review

Hi, I also read that book but for new bies that book was good. I was not able to see any where; Author mention that install the all the services during installation. I saw in snapshot all services was selected but author written above Feature Selection Wizard. Author not use much technical words in that book. I saw quick start section was too much good, he explained every options about data instances like administration, management roles so on things. I read many instant books of packtpub author not provide theory. Best section of Book I liked Top5 features well explained. 9/20/2013 8:33 AM | Justin

# re: Instant Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2012 Dimensions and Cube Book Review

Hello Justin,

So sorry to hear about your negative experience, too.

And I agree with you on the top 5 features - they were nicely covered. 9/20/2013 11:50 AM | Arthur

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