BI Evening July 17th

There’s going to be another one of the UK SQL Server Community’s BI Evening events happening at Microsoft UK’s offices at TVP in Reading on the evening of July 17th. It’s been far too long since the last one, I know – we’ve all been a bit distracted by SQLBits (and there’s going to be another one of those on September 13th – do you or our company want to sponsor it?).

You can sign up here:

Here’s what we’ve got lined up:

"PEL vs MDX – what are the differences between the two languages?"
Jeremy Kashel, Adatis

Jeremy Kashel from Adatis  presents an introduction to the PerformancePoint Expression Language (PEL). The content will be geared towards MS BI developers, and will highlight the differences between PEL and MDX, with the aim that those with MDX experience will be able to make a fast start with PEL

"Using Excel Services with Analysis Services and MOSS"
Jeremy Kirkup, TAH

If you are just starting to explore delivering BI solutions with Excel Services and Sharepoint then there are some issues that it is wise to be aware of in advance. This session will describe some real world lessons gained while creating BI solutions which expose Analysis Services data through the Excel Web Access web part.
The Excel 2007 client has first class support for the some of the advanced features of Analysis services such as drill-through.  However, when exposing pivot tables to a browser through the Excel Web Access web part this feature is not available. The session will discuss a couple of approaches to implementing drill-through functionality for EWA based pivot tables using the MOSS SmartPart, AJAX and the Excel Web Services.

Google Powerapps

While Jamie (who I saw through a window today, although I didn’t manage to say hello) is wondering about whether SQL Server Data Services will ever include a cloud-based OLAP engine, Panorama have just announced their own equivalent called Panorama PowerApps:

And guess what, it’s queryable through MDX! That means that not only will you be able to query it through Google Apps but also Excel. I’ve signed up to be a beta tester, so I’ll blog more when I have a chance to check it out.

Oracle and MDX

Meanwhile, in the parallel universe inhabited by Oracle users, a few weeks ago Mark Rittmann interviewed the architect for Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, Phil Bates, and asked readers to suggest some questions for him. Of course I couldn’t resist asking about MDX, even though I got a very nondescript response:

Interesting that many of the other questions concerned data access (eg "Will Oracle reverse Hyperion’s undocumented strategy for making it almost impossible to get data out of Essbase successfully?") as well.


Hands up who remembers OLAP@Work? If you do you’ve been working with Analysis Services for a long time, back when it was still OLAP Services… for those of you who don’t, it was one of about four options you had if you wanted a client tool circa 1999; it was an Excel addin and it was pretty good. Anyway, I’ve just seen this article on Intelligent Enterprise on what Ward Yaternick, the guy who founded OLAP@Work, has been up to since leaving Business Objects (which bought and eventually killed OLAP@Work):

He’s been working on something called nextanalytics:

Poking around on the site it looks quite interesting; certainly there are lots of mentions of MDX so I guess it supports Analysis Services as a data source (although it supports a lot of other data sources too). The key thing is that it allows you to create complex queries and calculations using a scripting language. Clearly this scripting language allows you to do the same kind of things you can do with MDX and indeed one particular entry on the nextanalytics blog caught my eye:,com_myblog/Itemid,342/show,Can-a-business-intelligence-product-be-used-to-answer-analytic-questions-.html/

I was about to leave a comment when I saw that Mosha had beaten me to it. Mosha’s right that contrary to what the original entry says, what Ward is describing is certainly possible in MDX, but Ward also has a point that it’s not something that someone with an average knowledge of MDX could accomplish. Can nextanalytics prove itself to be easier to use than MDX? Time will tell. I’ll have to download the open source version of it (available here: to try it out. When I have a spare moment, of course, which at the current rate is going to be some time next year.

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