Build Your Own Analysis Services Cache-Warmer in Integration Services

Cache-warming is one of the most neglected performance-tuning techniques for Analysis Services: perhaps it seems too much like cheating? Yet almost everyone knows how much difference there can be executing a query on a cold cache and a warm cache so there should be no excuse not to be doing it, especially if you know what queries your users are likely to be running in advance. AS2005’s caching mechanism is more complex than I can describe here (or than I can describe full stop – although I hear that the recently published "Microsoft Analysis Services 2005" has some great information on this front) but a lot of the time it can cache raw data of the cube and quite often the results of calculations too; you’ll need to test your own cubes and queries to find out exactly how much you’ll benefit but almost every cube benefits to a noticeable extent.

I’ve recently implemented a simple cache-warming system for a few customers which I thought I’d share details of. Now I know that the documentation for asmd contains details of how you can use it for this purpose (see for details) but I didn’t go down this route for a number of reasons:

  • This example uses a batch file and I preferred to keep all my logic in SSIS, especially since the customers were already using it for cube processing.
  • I wanted to avoid making my customers have to get their hands dirty extracting the MDX needed. They were using Excel 2003 as their main client and as you may know Excel 2003 makes heavy use of session sets so extracting and modifying the MDX it generates to create single MDX statements would have been too much to ask.

Here’s what I did instead. First, I created a new SQL Server database to store all the queries I was going to use. Then I used Profiler to capture the necessary MDX: I made sure no-one else was connected to the server, started a trace which only used the QueryBegin event and which included the TextData column, got the user to open Excel and construct and run their query, then stopped the trace and saved the results to a table in my new database. After doing this a few times I ended up with several tables, each of which contained the MDX generated for a particular sequence of queries in Excel.

Next I created a SSIS package which took each of these queries and executed them. Here’s what it looked like:

The outermost ForEach container used an SMO enumerator to loop through every table in my SQL Server database and put the table name in a variable (the expression generated by the UI was Database[@Name=’CacheWarmer’]/SMOEnumObj[@Name=’Tables’]/SMOEnumType[@Name=’Names’]). Next a script task used this table name to create a SQL SELECT statement which returned every query in the current table and put that in another variable. Here’s the code:

Dts.Variables("GetMDXQueries").Value = "SELECT textdata from [" + Dts.Variables("TableName").Value.ToString() + "] where DatabaseName=’" + Dts.Variables("ASDatabaseName").Value.ToString() + "’"

Next I used an Execute SQL task to execute this statement and out the resultset into another variable, the rows of which I looped over using the innermost ForEach loop using an ADO enumerator. Inside this second loop I got the MDX query out of the current row and into a string variable in a Script task as follows:

Dts.Variables("MDXQueryString").Value = Dts.Variables("MDXQueryObject").Value.ToString()

Then used another Execute SQL task, connected to my cube, to run the MDX query. I’ve been unable to execute MDX queries inside a Data Flow task (except when going via SQL Server using linked servers, which is nasty), hence the use of an Execute SQL task here; I also found that I had to use an ADO connection to my cube – if I used an OLE DB connection all my queries ran twice for some reason. I also set the RetainSameConnection property on the connection to the cube to true so that queries which relied on session scoped sets created earlier in the workflow didn’t fail; nonetheless I also set the FailPackageOnFailure and FailParentOnFailure properties of the Execute SQL task to false just in case. I was then able to save the package up to my server and use SQL Server Agent to execute it immediately after cube processing had finished.

As I said, if you implement a cache-warming system you’ll want to test how much of a difference it makes to your query performance. The easiest way to do this is to clear the cache and then run the package twice, noting how long it takes to run both times. The difference between the two times is the difference between a cold and a warm cache. To clear the cache you can either restart the Analysis Services service or run a Clear Cache command in an XMLA query window in SQLMS. Here’s an example of the latter which clears the cache of the Adventure Works database:
<Batch xmlns="">
<DatabaseID>Adventure Works DW</DatabaseID>

Now I will admit that I’m not the world’s greatest SSIS expert so if anyone has any suggestions for improving this I’d be pleased to hear them. Please test them first though – as I mentioned above I found SSIS didn’t always work as I expected with SSAS as a data source! I’ve also created a similar package whih connects to the query log AS creates for usage-based optimisation, reads the data in there and uses it to construct MDX queries which it then runs against the cube. This has the advantage of removing the need for anyone to extract any MDX from anywhere; plus the queries it constructs return very large amounts of data so you can use up all that memory you get on 64-bit boxes. The problem is that at the moment some of the queries it constructs are way too big and take forever to run… when I’ve worked out how I want to break them up into smaller chunks I’ll blog about it.

UPDATE: Allan Mitchell has very kindly done some more research on what happens when you try to run an MDX query through an Execute SQL task and written it up here:


60 responses

  1. Hi Chris
    Greate blog – I am fairly new to SSIS and "Cache warning" and I am having a hard time getting the SSIS package to work as you describe.
    Would you been kind and upload your SSIS package so I can have a look at it and get mine to work
    Thanks in advance

  2. i am looking for a create cache tables,
    please Would you been kind and upload your SSIS package so I can have a look at it and get mine to work

  3. Hi Chris
    Great Stuff! Could you please send the SSIS package to me? I\’ve been looking for this topic for a while and it is so nice to read your article.
    Thanks in advance

  4. Great.. the package work fine for query that return small sets of data. it complain about XML and resultset when the data is averagely large, pls any help..

  5. Hi Chris,Does this mechanism work with AS for Project server 2003 ?If Yes, then would you please send me the package?ThanksHung

  6. I assume that Project Server 2003 runs off Analysis Services 2000, right? If so, the general approach should work but the package might need some modification; the package is SQL2005 only.

  7. hi Chris,I tried a different approach for cache warming. In my package I have a execute sql task which gets the mdx queries from a trace table in the database and another execute sql task which is with in a for each loop container executes it.But the problem is the query captured by the profiler is in this format.SELECT NON EMPTY [{D84A78E5-5A54-4A9D-B945-41A1D370B5DE}Pivot30Axis1Set0] DIMENSION PROPERTIES MEMBER_NAME, PARENT_UNIQUE_NAME ON COLUMNSFROM [CUSTOMER CUBE] CELL PROPERTIES VALUE, FORMATTED_VALUE, FORE_COLOR, BACK_COLORwhen i run the package it gives me an error saying can not run this query.Can you please advice why it\’s happening?

  8. BTW, the reason your query is failing is because it\’s referencing a session-scoped named set on the columns axis; I guess you either haven\’t already executed the CREATE SET statement needed for this set, or you haven\’t set RetainSameConnection.

  9. Chris, I know this blog is much older but is it possible that you have this integration services package with you?

    • Hi Chris, I want to implement cache warming in my current project, for that I have followed an approach wrote some mdx query using create cache command and executing those using ASCMD.exe utility and batch file. its working fine only if I am generating any report the performance is faster as expected but for any other user this cache warming is not effective. is there anything like this .bat file should be executed from service account/administrator privileged so that cache warming will be effective for all users.

      kindly suggest.


      • Are all of your users members of different roles? If they are, and your cache warming is warming the formula engine cache, then that would explain why you’re the only user seeing a performance boost. *If* all of this is true then you have to run your cache warmer multiple times for all of your roles because the formula engine cache cannot be shared between users that are members of different roles.

      • No Chris as of now all users are coming under a single role we have different data level access but we are handling all users through a role called business users. I am checking this cache warming effect with users those are having equivalent access with me.

      • Then the next thing to check is whether the users’ queries are using features that are preventing them from using the formula engine cache. Do their queries have a WITH clause or do they use subselects?

      • Hi Chris, The mdx which I am using that’s a simple cross join with time hierarchy , I am saving below mdx with a filename.mdx then executing using ascmd.exe.

        batch file script:
        ascmd -S leb-edwsrs02 -d “Lebara_DW_NEW” -i Queries\Cachewarm.mdx -o Output.xml -T Trace.csv

        MDX Script:

        CREATE CACHE FOR GBRAnalytics AS
        {[Measures].[Actual Call Duration]}
        * {[Calendar].[YQMD Hierarchy].Members})

        Calling batch file from ssis package execute task, that’s it.

      • And to be clear, after you have run the Create Cache statement you run an MDX query it is fast, but when a member of a different role runs exactly the same query it is slow?

      • After executing the create cache command query response is faster for me where as another user who is having role what I am having executing the query response is slow.

      • You need to look at exactly what is happening at the query level. It could be that you are warming the cache for the queries you are running, but the queries your users are running are completely different and need different data loaded into the cache.

      • Thanks Chris, I will have a look but I don’t think so, because after executing this create cache command from pivot excel just selecting this measure and time hierarchy into row level which is coming faster and the other user also doing exactly same thing in same sequence but the response is slow for him.

        Thanks for your time.

      • I would also recommend looking in Profiler to see what’s happening – are you seeing the same pattern of Storage Engine activity? Are you seeing Get Data From Cache events being fired in both cases?

      • Hi Chris, I found the problem of cache warming even if I am maintaining security through a single Role but we are restricting data to users using a mdx query which is based on a dimension attribute. If I am removing that mdx then cache warming is working fine for all users.

        Do you have any other approach of implementing security at data level so that my cache warming will work.

      • Do you mean that you are using dynamic security, or are all of your users connecting through another application that adds this attribute to all queries?

      • Yes Chris, I am using dynamic security to restrict users which will have access to cube corresponding to some specific channel code and most of the users will have full access to cube. For them I created a new Role without any security, now Cache warming is working fine for them.For restricted users it will experience some slow performance. I think that should be fine.

        Thanks for your help.


      • Hi Chris,
        I am facing some problem in KPI report in ssas cube. As per requirement there are some measures identified as KPI measures whose performance will be validated Monthly against some GOAL value which will be set by the business based on certain dimension attributes. KPI report can be sliced by Time dimension and the dimension attribute for which GOAL have been set. For Example one KPI measure is

        SalesAmount, whose GOAL has been set for Product subgroup and month combination

        ProductSubG > XYZ Month> Jan 2014 > Goal > 100000 and productSubGroup is not directly linked to the sales Fact table from where sales amount is retrieving. Problem is when I am selecting KPI value, goal, trend etc along with time hierarchy its fine..but when slicing with productSubG attribute at individual level its showing proper value but at month level its showing SalesAmount for all product SubGroup.

        we have designed like this
        Fact Table > Sales_Fact which is linked to product Dimension through product_sr_key
        KPi Dimension > kpi_sr_key,MesureName(SalesAmount),product SubGroup(XYZ), monthyear(Jan 2014)
        KPI Fact > KPI SR Key (ref key of KPI dim), Goal Value (10000), MonthYear(Jan 2014)

        KPI_Fact >> linked >> KPI_DIM on KPI_SR_KEY)
        KPI DIM(MonthYear) >>linked >> dim Calendar(MonthYear)
        KPI DIM(ProductSubGroup)>>linked>> Dim Product (productSubGroup).

        Please suggest your thoughts, if this can be resolved..


      • Hi Chris, I am facing a big problem in performance on my SSAS cube.One existing SSAS application currently client using its only having partitions, no aggregation nothing. where as my cube having partitions, aggregations but still its not performing how the old one is. I checked in profiler when I am browsing the old cube its extracting data from partitions (which almost having data volume wise same)still its faster compare to my cube where as my cube extracting data from aggregations some times also from partitions.

        Don’t understand whats the problem. Only difference is they are using c# code for partition creation and processing where as I am using XML script. They are using multiple cubes we have created a single cube.

        please provide some clue so it will help me to understand futher.


  10. Hi Chris, what if the textData column contains parameters.and would u please send me the ssis package ?Thankschenshx at live dot cn

  11. Would anyone know the reason I am recieving the following error after my cache warmer runs a few hundred queries.

    “Server: The operation has been cancelled.”.
    Possible failure reasons: Problems with the query,
    “ResultSet” property not set correctly, parameters not set correctly, or connection not established correctly.

      • Thanks for responding…

        There are no errors in the trace. However when I clear the cache I will only process around 50 queries during the first run. The next time I run it it will make it to 100 and so on as cache is warmed. At some point around 500 queries it will not process further.

        It seems as though there is something being timed out.

        I can tell you I have deviated from your sol’n a bit by removing the looping through tables. Instead of having a Cache Warm DB I have a Cache Warm table. I am putting all of my queries into one table and running only the query building loop.

        Any thoughts?

  12. This is an excellent post and works great for queries that return results in a few seconds. I have a query that runs in SQL Management Studio in 1:50 sec {You can thank my Parent Child dimension for that}. When I run it via SSIS I get this error “[Execute SQL Task] Error: Executing the query “WITH MEMBER [Aggregate].[Aggregate].[XL_SD0] AS ‘A…” failed with the following error: “XML for Analysis parser: The XML for Analysis request timed out before it was completed.”. Possible failure reasons: Problems with the query, “ResultSet” property not set correctly, parameters not set correctly, or connection not established correctly.” The TimeOut on the Execute SQL Task is set to 0. Is there another Timeout setting that I am missing ?

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