Information Delivery • Reg Whitepapers

Last week I took part in a really interesting discussion, hosted by The Register, around the changing world of Business Intelligence. We discussed some of the challenges of traditional ‘Big BI’ and the shift towards more agile and user-focused BI to support front-line decision making. I tried to bring up as many real-world examples and tidbits of good practice I’ve come across. It was filmed in their London studios and you can view it online here: Information Delivery • Reg Whitepapers. (signup required)

Categories: SQL / BI

SQL Server 2008 R2 TechDays Presentations

On April 21st, my colleague Matt Stephen and I presented at the SQL Server 2008 R2 TechDays event in London. We covered PowerPivot and Reporting Services, looking at how you can build complex data analytics and produce rich reports with some very simple tools. We’ve had really good feedback from the event, and recordings of the presentations/demos (along with excellent sessions from the other speakers on the day) are now online. Go to and click on the ‘Resources’ tab to view all the videos, or go direct to ours here: PowerPivot and Reporting Services.

Categories: SQL / BI

Couple of excellent BI books

April 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Expert Cube Development with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services

I thought I’d blogged about this book before, but it appears not. Needless to say, with authors such as Chris Webb, Alberto Ferrari and Marco Russo this is a great collection of experience from some of the top MS BI consultants. Perfect for someone who’s grasped the basics of Analysis Services development and wants some hints and tips for some of the more advanced topics.



Microsoft Business Intelligence for Dummies

This book has just been released and is a brilliant primer for the whole of the Microsoft BI stack. It’s classic ‘for Dummies’ style, so easy to read but still content-rich. Best of all it’s bang up to date, talking about SQL 2008 R2, SharePoint 2010, PowerPivot and some of the more esoteric products like Visio or the MAP tool. Great read for those just embarking into BI as well, as the author also discusses some of the industry trends emerging in BI, including a section on evaluating BI solutions.

Categories: SQL / BI

Setting up Kerberos, with all those pesky SPNs

January 26, 2010 Leave a comment

If you want to set up Kerberos authentication in a Microsoft BI environment (and you will want to if you’ve got multiple servers) then you need to get your SPNs in order. These register service/server/user combinations in Active Directory to allow them to delegate (i.e. pass through) credentials to back-end servers. I’ve just gone through setting this up for the following

Svr1 – SQL 2008 Database
Svr2 – SQL 2008 Reporting Services
Svr3 – MOSS 2007

All running on Windows Server 2003 (if using 2008 the set-up for IIS is a little different)

The SPN commands I used are as follows:

setspn –a MSSQLSvc/Svr1:1433 domain\sqlUser
setspn –a MSSQLSvc/ domain\sqlUser

setspn –a HTTP/Svr2 domain\serviceUser
setspn –a HTTP/ domain\serviceUser

setspn –a HTTP/Svr3 domain\serviceUser
setspn –a HTTP/ domain\serviceUser

You then need to make sure the user and machine accounts are Trusted For Delegation (in Active Directory).

You’ve also got to remember to change the rsreportserver.config file to have the following section:



SharePoint has the same settings – but that can be set when you go through the configuration steps rather than modifying the .config files. At least, that’s what’s worked for me. Hopefully it’ll be a bit easier next time!

Categories: SQL / BI

Looking for a cashpoint?

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s something useful I discovered today:

Plug in a location, it plots the closest cashpoints on a map. Not 100% accurate, but probably good enough in a pinch…

Categories: Travel

Manipulating Excel Charts Directly

January 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Excel 2007 provides some great charting functionality (and Excel 2010 even more so), but one thing that often crops up is a request to be able to do a sort of ‘graphical goal seek’ – manipulating a point on the graph that updates the cellular values it is based on. Enter the snappily-named Excel Add-in for Manipulating Points on Charts. It gives you a dialog box that allows you to select a point on a chart and play with the value directly:


Pretty cool!

Categories: SQL / BI

SQL Server Data Warehouse Crib Sheet

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve just come across a very useful article that gives a simple overview of data warehousing with SQL Server – some of the key concepts, terminology and architectures are explained. Handy for anyone starting to explore DW:

Categories: SQL / BI