Dave Rodabaugh’s Analysis Services Interview Questions

Think you know your SSAS? Read this five part series by Dave Rodabaugh to test your SSAS knowledge in an interview setting. Don’t know how I ever missed this one…

Dave Rodabaugh’s Five Part Series of Analysis Services Interview Questions
My Analysis Services Interview Questions
Part II of My Analysis Services Interview Questions: Cool Business Problems
Part IV of My Analysis Services Interview Questions: Technical Features
Part V of My Analysis Services Interview Questions: The Most Common MDX Functions

As Kenny Bania from Seinfeld says: "That’s gold, Jerry! Gold!"

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Large SSAS Partition

 
Earlier this week I had to take ownership of a new SSAS system due to one of our offices shutting down. I’ve heard of it exisiting but never was able to take a look at it until just a few days ago.
  
I had heard there were performance problems and when I opened up the cube in BIDS, I came across this…
 
 

 

A single partition with a size of over 40GB. I initially thought it was due to too many aggregations (60% indicated), however after a closer look, the entire 40GB lies in the leaf fact data. All the dimension attributes are set to a RelationshipType of Flexible, and since the dimensions are being processed  by a ProcessUpdate without ProcessAffectedObjects set to true, all the aggregations have never been rebult. My best guess is there are around 3-6 billion fact rows contained in the partition. Wow.

Personally I always try to keep disk size under 1GB – row wise under 100 million. I know MS best practices says to keep it around 20 million, however after talking to others it seems like you can go a fair amount over that 20 million. All depends on how many dimensions/aggregations are associated with a row of course…

What’s the largest partition size you guys have seen?

 

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Two Facts In a Measure Group – One Correct, One Incorrect

It’s been awhile since I’ve run into a "bang the head against the wall" problem, however today I ran into a doozy.
 
I had a measure group (no aggs, two summed measures) associated with three dimensions. There were some modifications done to the fact table that would now allow this measure group to be associated with seven dimensions. Great, more detail! Since these dimensions were already in the database and in the cube, all I’d have to do is just set up a few relationships through the dimension designer, reprocess, and BAM.
 
I do just that and validate the numbers against the fact table. While measure number one looked correct and returned a sum of 29,875.40, measure two returned incorrect numbers. The fact table had 34,450.60 and the cube was returning 34,448.20 – only a difference of 2.40. I process the indexes, process update the dimensions, reprocess the entire cube database, drop and recreate the partitions, and a few other things – NOTHING. It didn’t make any sense why would one number would match and the other didn’t – they were both coming from the same measure group and fact table.
 
One by one I removeed the new dimensionlal relationships in the measure group. By removing the first dimension the difference drops to 2.15, dimension number two – 1.87, dimension number three – 1.19, ect. There was no rhyme or reason to the difference narrowing.
 
After four hours I open up the cube live through Visual Studio, and on the Cube Measure, tab I rearrange the order of the two measures. Just drop and drag the bottom measure above the other. Reprocess, check the numbers..and…what do you know…the numbers finally match up like they should.
 
Totally frustrating.
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70-448 Exam Results

Late July I took the 70-448 (SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance) Beta Exam. It looks like the results are now being released being that I just received an email notifying me that I had passed. Woot woot!
 
My prep for the test was zilch. My real world experience was enough for me to pass. Cool eh? In all it took me about an hour and a half to go through the test.
 
I was initially hesitant in taking the exam, but certainly glad I did!
 

 
 
 
 
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Tips: Processing Large Dimensions

With the good weather subsiding here in Seattle for a few days I’m feeling motivated to post something today.
 
Recently there was a post on LinkedIn regarding large dimensional updates (millions of members) in SSAS. The release of Analysis Services 2005 greatly increased the ability to process large dimension compared to AS 2000. Dimensional updates that weren’t possible in 2000 are now easily done in 2005.
 
I’ve dealt with somewhat large dimensions (five to twenty million members) so I thought I’d share some tips that have allowed me to perform daily updates in an acceptable manner.
 
When procssing dimensions, it’s not the processing of the dimension members that takes a lot of time, but rather it’s the rebuilding of the aggregates. (set ProcessAffectedObjects to True).
 
One of our larger dimension has ten million members and when no data shifts the processing of the dimension takes 15 minutes. If data does shift the reprocessing takes three hours. We also have a dimension with only 30 members that will take 15 seconds to reprocess if there is no data movement; two hours if there is. Data will move around if you have flexible attribute relationships.
 
Things to keep in mind:

1. Carefully examine all flexible relationships, just don’t set everything to flexible. This is set by the RelationshipType property on an attribute.

2. Process all your dimensions in parallel so the aggs are rebuilt at once. If you process dimensions in serial this may happen: dimension A processed, aggs are rebuilt, dimension B processed, data moves around, dimension C processed, aggs need to be rebuilt again. Always try to process dimensions in parallel. ALWAYS.

3. Be creative with your partitioning and aggregation designs. Say you have five years of data and you create a partition for each year. Chances are the most recent year or two will be queried differently than the data from four or five years ago. The partitions for years one and two should use a different aggregation design than years four and five. Rebuilding aggregates can take awhile (especially with larger dimensions) and the less you have to rebuild the faster the dimensional update will take.

For example: I have a cube (partitioned by day) with a rolling one year of data with the majority of queries only being run against the last 90 days. After ninety days I assign a different aggregation design to any partition older than that ninety days and reprocess. The last 90 days use an aggregation design with eight aggs, days 90 and older have a design with only three aggs.

4. Get the fastest box you can. From what i’ve experienced the real limiting factor in fast dimension updates isn’t memory, it’s CPU.

 
5. Only process dimensions that need to be processed. It’s easy to be lazy and process all the dimensions in a cube every single time, however if the data hasn’t been changed, why update the dimension? I have a stored procedure that takes the last ETL load time for a table and compares that to the last process time for that corresponding SSAS dimension. If the ETL time is later than the cube process time then the SSAS dimension is processed. This greatly cuts down on processing time.
 
6. To implement most of these suggestions you’ll need to write AMO code. If you want to process your cubes in any sort of efficient way the built-in SSAS tasks within SSIS just don’t cut it.  You’ll need custom code.
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No cost beta 70-452: Designing a Business Intelligence Infrastructure Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008

You are invited to take beta exam 71-452: Designing a Business Intelligence Infrastructure Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008. If you pass the beta exam, the exam credit will be added to your transcript and you will not need to take the exam in its released form. The results will not appear on your transcript until several weeks after the final form of the exam is released. The 71-xxx identifier is used for registering for beta versions of MCP exams, when the exam is released in its final form the 70-xxx identifier is used for registration.

71-452: Designing a Business Intelligence Infrastructure Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 counts as credit towards the following certification(s).

· Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Business Intelligence Developer 2008. In order to earn this certification you must also pass exam 70-448: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance.

Find exam preparation information: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/exams/70-452.mspx

Registration begins: August 8, 2008

Beta exam period runs: August 13, 2008– September 10, 2008

Registration Information

Please use the following promotional code when registering for the exam: 3568C


You must register at least 24 hours prior to taking the exam.

To register in North America, please call:

· Prometric: (800) 755-EXAM (800-755-3926)

Outside the U.S./Canada, please contact:

· Prometric: http://www.register.prometric.com/ClientInformation.asp

More info here: http://blogs.msdn.com/gerryo/archive/2008/08/08/sql-server-2008-beta-exam-71-452-designing-a-business-intelligence-infrastructure-using-microsoft-sql-server-2008.aspx 

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Take the beta 71-448 for free

 
Had the chance to go take the beta 71-448 for free this morning. Took me about an hour and a half. Since the exam is still in beta you won’t receive your score for at least a few weeks. Bummer.
 
Definitely worth a shot, especially if you’ve never had the opportunity to take a MS exam test.
 
Only good until 7/31.
 
 
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71-448 – Promo code B6543

You are invited to take beta exam 71-448: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance. You were specifically chosen to participate in this beta because of your current Microsoft Certification status or previous participation with Microsoft Learning. If you pass the beta exam, the exam credit will be added to your transcript and you will not need to take the exam in its released form. The 71-xxx identifier is used for registering for beta versions of MCP exams, when the exam is released in its final form the 70-xxx identifier is used for registration.
By participating in beta exams, you have the opportunity to provide the Microsoft Certification program with feedback about exam content, which is integral to development of exams in their released version. We depend on the contributions of experienced IT professionals and developers as we continually improve exam content and maintain the value of Microsoft certifications.

71-448: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance counts as credit towards the following certification(s).

· Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance


 Availability

Registration begins: June 15, 2008

Beta exam period runs: June 16, 2008– July 31, 2008

Receiving this invitation does not guarantee you a seat in the beta; we recommend that you register immediately. Beta exams have limited availability and are operated under a first-come-first-served basis. Once all beta slots are filled, no additional seats will be offered.

Testing is held at Prometric testing centers worldwide, although this exam may not be available in all countries (see Regional Restrictions).  All testing centers will have the capability to offer this exam in its live version.

Regional Restrictions: India, Pakistan, China


Registration Information

You must register at least 24 hours prior to taking the exam.
Please use the following promotional code when registering for the exam: 943F6
Receiving this invitation does not guarantee you a seat in the beta; we recommend that you register immediately.

To register in North America, please call:

Prometric: (800) 755-EXAM (800-755-3926)

Outside the U.S./Canada, please contact:

Prometric: http://www.register.prometric.com/ClientInformation.asp

—————————————————————————–

More info here: http://blogs.msdn.com/gerryo/

 

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