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Cheat Sheet

Microsoft Business Intelligence For Dummies

The technology and business intelligence worlds use their own unique language that’s made up of acronyms, terms, and concepts. Getting a handle on how the jargon translates into something useful can be a very challenging task. This guide will give you a quick reference to the products, capabilities, concepts, and acronyms that make up the Microsoft Business Intelligence landscape.

Key Components of Microsoft SQL Server

The Microsoft SQL Server product is made up of four primary components, three of them sporting acronyms. Use this list to identify the components of SQL Server and tell them apart.

  • Database Engine: This part of SQL Server actually creates and drives relational databases.

  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS): SSAS is the data-analysis component of SQL Server. It can create OLAP (OnLine Analytical Processing) cubes — sophisticated programming objects for organizing data inside a relational database — and do data mining (pulling relevant data out of a database in response to an ad-hoc question).

  • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS): SSRS is a component of SQL Server that provides reporting regardless of a database’s operating system.

  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS): SSIS is a component of SQL Server that does the Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) process that cleans up and formats raw data from source systems for inclusion in the database as ready-to-use information.

The Components of Microsoft SharePoint

The SharePoint product comprises many different components and can perform a wide variety of tasks. Use this list to get a quick handle on which part of SharePoint does what.

  • SharePoint Foundation: SharePoint Foundation is a foundational program that enables communication, collaboration, and content management; it comes free with the Windows Server operating system.

  • SharePoint Server: SharePoint Server is a full-featured software product that provides industrial-grade communication, collaboration, and content management. It’s like SharePoint Foundation on steroids. SharePoint Server comes in an Enterprise and Standard edition for both Internet sites and Intranet sites.

  • InfoPath Form Services: This feature of SharePoint Server allows InfoPath forms to be embedded in SharePoint Web sites.

  • Excel Services: This feature of SharePoint Server embeds Excel documents in a SharePoint Web site where they can be viewed (which helps with version control).

  • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) Integration: This feature installs an SSRS server in such a way that it works closely with the SharePoint environment. In an integrated installation, SSRS reports are contained and managed in SharePoint instead of in a standalone program (Report Manager).

  • Key Performance Indicator (KPI): A feature of SharePoint (and of SSAS) that provides a quick visualization of business information that the organization considers indicative of how well it’s doing. KPI data is contained in a KPI list that can be embedded in SharePoint Web sites.

  • Business Connectivity Services (BCS): BCS is a feature of SharePoint that connects to Line of Business (LOB) systems and displays the data that they contain in the SharePoint environment. The data can then be manipulated (read and write) directly from SharePoint with users having to know, or care, where the data lives behind the scenes.

  • Sites: A SharePoint site is a Web site that SharePoint manages in ways that are compatible with its content-management features. SharePoint sites can contain many user facing SharePoint features such as Document Libraries, Lists, Wikis, Blogs, and Discussion Boards.

  • Document Libraries: A mechanism for storing content within SharePoint. A Document Library provides content management (which includes document check-in and check-out, versioning, security, and workflow).

  • Lists: Lists of data, made available on a SharePoint site, that store data in columns and rows. Almost all of the user facing SharePoint features stem from Lists. For example, a Calendar is actually a specialized List under the covers.

  • Wikis: Specialized Web sites that allow community members to update content on the fly. SharePoint provides wiki functionality as a feature.

  • Blogs: A Web log or online journal. A blog provides a forum for people to write communications that can be viewed across the entire organization. Once a blog entry is posted, the content can attract comments and discussions on the entry page. Blogs came to prominence as personal online journals; SharePoint provides tools for getting business blogs up and running in a manner of minutes.

  • Discussion Boards: A designated intranet location for online discussion, accessible throughout the organization. A discussion board provides a forum for people to post questions and replies that can be viewed throughout the organization.

  • PerformancePoint: A feature of SharePoint that is designed to build advanced scorecards, dashboards, and reports.

  • Dashboard Designer: An end user tool that can be launched from SharePoint and is designed to build PerformancePoint content.

  • Report Builder: An end user tool that can be launched from SharePoint and is designed to build SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports.

  • Scorecard: A collection of data that includes graphs, charts, numbers, and other visualizations of information that is designed to show progress towards a stated goal. For example, you might have a Scorecard that shows sales per quarter per sales person and how well that sales person is performing against a target goal.

  • Dashboard: A Dashboard is much like a Scorecard with the difference being that a Dashboard shows the status of key information but is not necessarily in relation to an overall goal. For example, you might have a dashboard showing current production on a day, week, month, and year to date scale without having a specific target production output you are trying to reach.

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