What’s New in PerformancePoint Services SP1

New SP1 for SharePoint 2010 is scheduled for the end of June 2011. Therefore if you want to know what new features/fixes will be available for PPS you can check this on PerformancePoint Services Blog:

What’s New in PerformancePoint Services and SP1

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Microsoft recognized by Gartner as a Leader in Business Intelligence in 2011

Gartner has published another edition of it’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence market . It’s worth to say that Microsoft is recognized as a strong leader in this area and has made a big step further to the top of the quadrant (compared to MQ BI for 2010).

According the report Gartner’s view is that the market for BI platforms will remain one of the fastest growing software markets despite slow economic growth in most regions.
What is more important (and was showed in report) TCO of BI tools has big impact on purchasing decision and choice of software vendor (Microsoft achieved top position in “ability to execute”).
By providing end user BI capabilities through familiar Microsoft Office experiences such as SharePoint and Excel (with PowerPivot technology), Microsoft empowers an entirely new segment of business users to build and consume rich BI solutions as part of their everyday work.

More details and complete report you can find here:
Business Intelligence Platforms Magic Quadrant

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SQL Server 2008 R2 is now fully supported by SAP

SAP has announced the full General Availability and Unrestricted Support for SQL 2008 R2 as of 16th September 2010.
SQL 2008 R2 offers some significant benefits for SAP customers. It’s highly recommended for customers with large systems or Unicode systems to move to SQL 2008 R2. This allows to take full advantage of SQL’s new features like Unicode compression or support for 256 CPU cores.

More details on this topic you can find in this article:
Running SAP Applications on SQL Server

Other useful information about Tier-1 applications running on Microsoft SQL Server and the Microsoft Windows platform you can find on newly created blog, written by folks from Microsoft who work closely with ISVs.
Topics of interest include discussions of best practices, webcasts, white papers, performance results and case studies.
Enterprise Applications on Microsoft SQL Server

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Microsoft Codename “Atlanta”– new cloud based service for monitoring MS SQL Server

Microsoft codename “Atlanta” is a new secure cloud service that proactively monitors your Microsoft SQL Server deployments. It helps you avoid configuration problems, reduce downtime, improve performance and efficiency of Microsoft SQL Server.

Atlanta cloud service analyzes SQL Server configuration data to identify issues and recommendations. DBA can  view configuration data and alerts on the Atlanta portal.
Alerts provide information about particular issue that was detected, the cause, and how to address this issue. Each alert also contains link to additional information contained in article from the Microsoft Knowledge Base. Moreover, you can track current and historical configuration information for the computers being analyzed.

The Beta 1 release of Atlanta supports configuration monitoring of the SQL Engine within SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 deployments running on Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

The production version of the service will be available in the first half of the 2011 calendar year.

To start using beta version of Atlanta (available since 8th of November, 2010) you need to complete the following steps:

  • Create your Atlanta account on  http://www.microsoftatlanta.com/ website.
  • Download and install the Atlanta gateway and agent.
    An agent needs to be installed on each server in your environment (where SQL Server is installed). It’s main role is to scan the server and aggregate management data.
    A gateway component should be installed on one server with internet access.
    It periodically uploads the aggregated data from agents to a secured web service.
    A gateway can also store data from agents installed on non-internet connected servers.
  • Begin analyzing your systems.

Final reports can look like these presented below:

Atlanta_Alerts1
Alerts for detected  issues and resolution steps.

Atlanta_monitoringConfiguration
Monitoring server configuration and tracking changes.

Atlanta_addRemoveServers
Adding and removing monitored servers.

More technical details on Microsoft Codename “Atlanta” you can find under the following links:

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Microsoft Moves into Leaders Category on Forrester’s 2010 Enterprise BI Platforms Wave

In the latest Forrester 2010 Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms Wave Microsoft has moved from Strong Performer into the Leaders Category.

The report really captures the heart of Microsoft strategy highlighting the ubiquity of Office and SharePoint as key to Microsoft’s current and future success.
One of the biggest advantages of Microsoft BI Platform, in comparison with it’s competitors, is that when you have Office, SharePoint and SQL Server, you don’t need to buy any additional components to fully benefit from Microsoft BI solution.
In the report PowerPivot and self-service BI are also highlighted and PowerPivot is positioned as a key technology in the in-memory analytics space.

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PerformancePoint Services not configured properly – common issue

After installing Sharepoint Server 2010, in some cases you can get error, which says that PerformancePoint Services was not configured properly.
There could be many reasons of this error, but the most common of them would be that, you haven’t configured Secure Store Service (SSS).
For example, error message can occur while creating new PPS data sources in Dashboard Designer or migrating PPS 2007 dashboards to new 2010 platform.
Below you can see error message from Dashboard Designer when attempting to connect to the SSAS cube:

 

To resolve this issue you have to set unattended service account for PerformancePoint Services, which is a shared domain account used for accessing PerformancePoint Services data sources.
You can set this account in Central Administration –> Manage Service Applications –>PerformancePoint Service Application.
Select link PerformancePoint Service Application Settings and set user name and password for Unattended Service Account (showed below). Then click OK.

 

At this moment the second error may occur:

The Unattended Service Account cannot be set for the service application. The Secure Store Service key might not have been generated or properly refreshed after the service was provisioned.
Troubleshoot issues with Microsoft SharePoint Foundation.
Correlation ID: 6d32c32a-44dc-4b39-9f5e-65f6d10e1746
Date and Time: 6/1/2010 5:03:58 AM

 
 

PerformancePoint Services uses the Secure Store Service to store password for Unattended Service Account.
Before using the Unattended Service Account you need to make sure that Secure Store Service is running and has generated encryption key.
To configure your Secure Store Service go to the Central Administration –> Manage Service Applications –>Secure Store Service.
Click Generate New Key on the ribbon, if you don’t have any generated keys.

 

Now type you password and click OK.

 

Once you generated new key, you can go back to PerformancePoint Services configuration and set your Unattended Service Account (which was described above).
After setting Unattended Service Account, you can return back to your Dashboard Designer and try to create the new Data Connection. This time your Unattended Account will be used and you will see the content (of course you also need to set required access permissions in your database).

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PowerPivot reports as a data source for PerformancePoint Services dashboards

One of new features delivered in PerformancePoint Server 2010 is built-in support for PowerPivot reports as a data source.
After publishing PowerPivot report on Sharepoint 2010 you can use it to build interactive dashboards using PerformancePoint Services objects such Analytic Charts, Analytic Grids, KPI’s, Scorecards and Filters,
Here are basic steps how to prepare data source based on PowerPivot report:

1. Build your PowerPivot report in Excel 2010.
To create your PowerPivot report you need to have PowerPivot for Excel installed on your workstation. To make your report available as a data source, you need to upload it to SharePoint Server 2010 (site must have PowerPivot for SharePoint enabled).
Screens below show these activities.

2. After publishing your PowerPivot Report on SharePoint, you can connect to it from PerformancePoint Services Data Source.
The important note is that you must have ADOMD 10 installed on the server on which you are authoring the Dashboard in order to access a PowerPivot workbook as a data source.

3. In Dashboard Designer click Create tab, and then click Data Source.

  • In the Category pane of the Select a Data Source Template dialog box, click Multidimensional and then click Analysis Services. Click OK.
  • In the left navigation pane (workspace browser), type the name of your data source (in our example it is PowerPivotDataSource).

4. To configure your Data Source you have to set the following things:

  • In the center pane, click the Editor tab. In the Connection Settings section, select Use the following connection.Type the connection string to the PowerPivot data source using the following format:
    PROVIDER=MSOLAP;DATA SOURCE=http://sitename/Library/PowerPivotFileName.xlsx.
    In our example (SalesResults.xlsx uploaded to PowerPivot Gallery) connection string looks like this:
    PROVIDER=MSOLAP;DATA SOURCE=http://contosodemo/PowerPivot%20Gallery/SalesResults.xlsx.

      

     

  • Select the cube from the drop-down menu. The cube name for a PowerPivot model will always be Sandbox.
  • In the Data Source Settings section, select the method on which to authenticate to the data source. You can also set other attributes, like Formatting Dimension and Cache Lifetime.
  • Now you can click Test Connection to check if your data source works correctly.
  • If everything is OK you can click Save to store your object in MOSS list.

5. Since now you can create reports, KPIs and filters based on your new PowerPivot Data Source.

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