Over 70 practical recipes for administering a high-performance SQL Server 2008 R2 system
SQL Server 2008 R2 has a flurry of new enhancements added to the core database engine and business intelligence suite. The new enhancements within the core database engine are: SQL Azure connectivity (SQLAzure), Data-Tier application (DAC PACK), SQL Server Utility (UCP), and network connectivity. In addition to the new features and internal enhancements, SQL Server 2008 R2 includes new developments to the asynchronous messaging subsystem, such as Service Broker (SB) and external components such as Master Data Services (MDS), StreamInsight, Reporting Services with SharePoint Integration, and PowerPivot for Analysis Services.
These recipes involve the planning, design, and implementation of features that are added and they are important to the management of the core technologies of SQL Server 2008 R2.
Planning and implementing Self-Service Business Intelligence services
Self-Service Business Intelligence (BI) is the new buzzword in the data platform, a new paradigm to the existing BI functionalities. Using Microsoft’s Self-Service BI, anyone can easily build the BI applications using traditional desktop tools such as Office Excel and specialized services such as SharePoint. The BI application can be built to manage the published applications in a common way and track data usage having the analytical data connected to its source. The data customization can be accomplished easily by sharing data in a controlled way where the customers can access it from a web browser (intranet or extranet) without using Office applications or Server applications. The external tasks such as security administration and deployment of new hardware are accomplished using the features of SQL Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 operating system.
Self-Service BI can be implemented using PowerPivot, which has two components working together, PowerPivot for Excel and PowerPivot for SharePoint. The PowerPivot for Excel is an add-in that enhances the capabilities of Excel for users and brings the full power of SQL Server Analysis Services right into Excel; whereas, PowerPivot for SharePoint extends the Office SharePoint Services to share and manage the PowerPivot applications that are created with PowerPivot for Excel. In this recipe, we will go through the steps that are required to plan and implement PowerPivot for Excel and PowerPivot for SharePoint.
PowerPivot for Excel is a component of SQL Server 2008 R2 and is an add-in of Excel 2010 from Office 2010 suite, along with the Office Shared Features. To get started you will need to do the following:
- Download the PowerPivot for Excel 2010 add-in from: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=e081c894-e4ab-42df-8c87-4b99c1f3c49b&displaylang=en.
- If you install the 32-bit version of Excel, you must use the 32-bit version of PowerPivot. If you install the 64-bit version of Excel, you must use the 64-bit version of PowerPivot.
- To test PowerPivot features in addition to the Excel add-in you need to download the sample databases for SQL Server 2008 R2. They can be downloaded from: http://msftdbprodsamples.codeplex.com/wikipage?title=Installing%20SQL%20Server%202008R2%20Databases.
- In this recipe, the sample database built in SQL Server Analysis Services 2008 R2 based on an imaginary company will be referred to. It is available for download from: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=868662dc-187a-4a85-b611-b7df7dc909fc.
Using the windows installer (I) package, you can install SQL Server 2008 R2 sample databases. However, you must make sure that your SQL Server instance meets the following prerequisites:
- Full-Text Search must be installed with SQL Full-text filter daemon launcher service running
- FILESTREAM must be enabled
To install these prerequisites on existing SQL Server instances, refer to http://msftdbprodsamples.codeplex.com/wikipage?title=Database%20Prerequisites&referringTitle=Installing%20SQL%20Server%202008R2%20Databases.
- PowerPivot for the SharePoint component can be installed using the SharePoint 2010 setup program
- SharePoint 2010 is only supported on Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 or higher, and Window Server 2008 R2, and only on x64 platform
- There are two setup options—a New Farm install and an Existing Farm install
- The New Farm install is typically expected to be used in a single-machine install where PowerPivot will take care of installing and configuring all the relevant services effectively for you
- To view PowerPivot workbooks published to the PowerPivot Gallery, you will need Silverlight
- Silverlight is not available in a 64-bit version; you must use the 32-bit Web browser to see PowerPivot workbooks using the PowerPivot Gallery’s special views
- The Self-Service Analytics solution describes the steps required to analyze sales and promotions data and share the analysis to other users
- This solution consists of two documents and one sample data file (Access database and Excel workbooks), which can be downloaded from: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=fa8175d0-157f-4e45-8053-6f5bb7eb6397&displaylang=en
How to do it…
In this recipe, we will go through the steps required to plan and implement PowerPivot for Excel and PowerPivot for SharePoint:
- Connect to your SQL Server relational database server using SQL Server Management Studio and restore the Contoso retail sample database on the SQL Server instance.
- Office Shared Features installs VSTO 4.0, which is needed as a prerequisite for PowerPivot for Excel.
- To install the client application once the download is completed, run a setup program (PowerPivot_for_Excel.msi), which is a self-explanatory wizard installation.
- The initial PowerPivot installation of Excel 2010 program requires COM Add-ins activation. To do so, on the Excel worksheet click File | Options and select the Add-Ins page.
- In the Add-Ins page from the Manage drop-down list select COM Add-ins and click on the Go button.
- Finally, select the PowerPivot for Excel option and click the OK button to display the PowerPivot tab back in the Excel 2010 sheet.
- You can open the PowerPivot window from an Excel file, click on the PowerPivot tab on the Excel ribbon.
- Launch Excel 2010 from All Programs | Microsoft Office | Microsoft Excel 2010. On the PowerPivot tab, click on the PowerPivot Window.
- Click on the PowerPivot Window button that will open a PowerPivot Window, as shown in the preceding screenshot.
- The PowerPivot Window helps you with the key operations of importing data, filtering, and analyzing the data, as well as creating certain Data Analysis Expression (DAX) calculations.
- Let us see how the PowerPivot provides the several methods to import and enhance data by building a Self-Service BI application.
- PowerPivot for SharePoint configures your SharePoint 2010 as part of the New Farm install option.
- After successfully installing PowerPivot for SharePoint, you should verify the installation.
- Open the Web browser in administrator’s privilege mode and enter http://
with being the name of the server machine where you performed the PowerPivot for SharePoint install.
- You should see a link to the PowerPivot Gallery on the left side of the page, as shown in the following screenshot:
- Next, launch the SharePoint Central Administration page from Start | All | Programs | Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products | SharePoint 2010 Central Administration.
- Click on the Manage web applications link under the heading Application Management.
- In the Web Applications General Settings dialog, navigate to the value Maximum upload size. For this recipe, let us choose the value 3192 MB.
The default value for Maximum Upload size is set to 50MB, for ideal content deployment change the upload size to a minimum 3192MB.
- Navigate back to SharePoint Central Administration | Application Management | Manage Service Applications.
- Select ExcelServiceApp1 (Excel Services Application Web Service Application) and click Manage to choose Trusted file locations.
- Click on http:// to change the Excel Services settings. Navigate to the Workbook Properties section. For this recipe, choose the value of the Maximum Workbook Size as 3192 MB.
- The new settings will take effect once the IIS services are restarted.
We have now successfully completed the PowerPivot for SharePoint installation, now the instance is ready to publish and share the PowerPivot workbook.
To ensure the PowerPivot for SharePoint installation is successful and to share a workbook, we can test the process by publishing a PowerPivot workbook instance, as follows:
- Switch on the machine with Excel and PowerPivot for Excel.
- Open a workbook.
- Click on File | Save and Send | Save to SharePoint | Save As.
- Enter http://
/PowerPivot Galleryin the folder path of the Save As dialog, and click Save.
How it works…
Microsoft Excel is a popular Business Intelligence tool on the client side, and to present data from multiple sources PowerPivot for Excel is required. The installation process of the PowerPivot add-in on the client side is a straightforward process, though there is no requirement of SQL Server 2008 R2 components on the client side. Behind the scenes, the Analysis Services VertiPaq engine from PowerPivot for Excel runs all the ‘in-process’ for Excel. The connectivity to the Analysis Services data source is managed by MDX, XMLA Source, AMO, and ADOMD.NET libraries, which in turn use the Analysis Services OLE DB provider to connect to the PowerPivot data within the workbook.
On the workstation, the Analysis Services VertiPaq engine issues queries and receives data from a variety of data sources, including relational or multidimensional databases, documents, public data stores, or Web services. During data import and client-side data refresh, an ATOM data feed provider is used for importing and refreshing data in the ATOM format.
In case of connectivity to non-Microsoft data sources such as Oracle/Teradata/DB2/SYBASE/SQLAzure/OLEDB/ODBC sources and most commonly used file sources such as Excel or flat files, we must acquire and install these drivers manually.
PowerPivot for SharePoint installs on top of SharePoint 2010, and adds services and functionality to SharePoint. As we have seen, PowerPivot for Excel is an effective tool to create and edit PowerPivot applications, and for data collaboration, sharing, and reporting PowerPivot for SharePoint. Behind the scene, SQL Server 2008 R2 features SharePoint 2010 integrated mode for Analysis Service which includes the VertiPaq engine to provide in-memory data storage. It will also help in processing very large amounts of data, where high performance is accomplished through columnar storage and data compression.
The storage of PowerPivot workbooks is quite large and SharePoint 2010 has a default maximum size limit of 50MB for file size. As per the enterprise storage policies, you need to change the file storage setting in SharePoint to publish and upload PowerPivot workbooks. Internally, PowerPivot for SharePoint components, PowerPivot System Service, and Analysis Services in VertiPaq will provide the hosting capability for PowerPivot applications internally. For client connectivity to publish, it includes a web service component that allows applications to connect to the PowerPivot workbook data from outside the SharePoint farm.
Creating an Excel workbook that contains PowerPivot data requires both Excel 2010 and the PowerPivot for Excel add-in. After you create the workbook, you can publish it to a SharePoint Server 2010 farm that has Excel Services, and a deployment of SQL Server PowerPivot for SharePoint. PowerPivot workbooks can be opened in Excel 2007.
However, Excel 2007 cannot be used to create or modify PowerPivot data, or to interact with PivotTables, or PivotCharts that use PowerPivot data. You must use Excel 2010 to get full access to all PowerPivot features.