Cubes (Analysis Services)

A cube is a set of related measures and dimensions that is used to analyze data.

  • A measure is a fact, which is a transactional value or measurement that a user may want to aggregate. Measures are sourced from columns in one or more source tables, and are grouped into measure groups.
  • A dimension is a group of attributes that represent an area of interest related to the measures in the cube, and which are used to analyze the measures in the cube. For example, a Customer dimension might include the attributes Customer Name, Customer Gender, and Customer City, which would enable measures in the cube to be analyzed by Customer Name, Customer Gender, and Customer City. Attributes are sourced from columns in one or more source tables. The attributes within each dimension can be organized into hierarchies to provide paths for analysis.

A cube is then augmented with calculations, key performance indicators (KPIs), actions, partitions, perspectives, and translations. A cube is essentially synonymous with a Unified Dimensional Model (UDM). For more information about UDMs, seeUnified Dimensional Model. In Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services (SSAS), a cube is developed based on tables and views that are modeled in a data source view.

A cube can be developed with or without an underlying relational data source. For more information, see Working with Relational Schemas.

Facts in a cube are aggregated across dimensions, based on the dimension hierarchies. For more information, see Aggregations and Aggregation Designs (SSAS).

In This Section

The following topics introduce concepts related to Analysis Services cubes, including cube structure and relationships:

Topic Description

Introduction to Cubes

Provides a conceptual overview of cubes in Analysis Services, and an example of a cube that uses a star schema.

Measures and Measure Groups

Explains measures and measure groups.

Dimension Relationships

Describes the relationships between dimensions and measure groups that are supported for cubes in Analysis Services.


Provides an overview on calculations, including named sets and scripted MDX commands.

Key Performance Indicators

Describes how key performance indicators (KPIs) are used in Analysis Services and explains terminology related to KPIs.


Provides an overview of actions, which allow you to initiate response to analysis data. .

Partitions (Analysis Services)

Describes partitions, storage, and proactive caching.


Describes perspectives, or custom subsets of cubes.

Cube Translations

Explains features in Analysis Services for creating cube captions in multiple languages.

See Also


Defining and Configuring Cubes and Cube Properties
Dimensions (Analysis Services)
Analysis Services Objects

Help and Information

Getting SQL Server 2005 Assistance

Change History

Release History

14 April 2006

Changed content:

Updated conceptual material to improve clarity.