What's New (Analysis Services - Multidimensional Database)

This latest release of Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services introduces new features and enhancements.

Integration of Analysis Services with SharePoint

SQL Server 2008 R2 offers new business intelligence capabilities that provide flexible yet powerful self-service analytics, complementing traditional OLAP and data mining solutions. Self-service business intelligence is comprised of the following products:

  • PowerPivot for Sharepoint   A new version of Analysis Services that can be hosted within a Sharepoint farm. The instance that is hosted in Sharepoint is a highly modified version of Analysis Services with an new in-memory storage method that loads data on-demand and handles usage and resource demands without tuning. The hosted instance also includes a midtier web service that controls data refresh, data access, and monitoring.

  • PowerPivot for Excel   A client add-in that can be installed with Excel 2010. This add-in provides tools for building multidimensional data sets in Excel. The add-in combines a compressed data store, provided by an in-memory instance of Analysis Services, with existing Excel data visualization tools such as PivotTables and PivotCharts.

  • DAX    PowerPivot for Excel includes a new expression language, Data Analysis Expressions, that lets you easily create sophisticated calculations, use time intelligence, and perform lookups.

For more information, see PowerPivot for SharePoint.

New Samples Location and PowerPivot Samples

Books Online no longer includes SQL Server sample databases and sample applications. These sample databases and sample applications are now available on the SQL Server Samples Web site. This Web site makes it easier for users to find these samples, and provides additional new samples that are related to Microsoft SQL Server and Business Intelligence. On the SQL Server Samples Web site, you can do the following:

  • Browse through samples contributed by developers, users, and the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) community.

  • Download both sample databases and code projects.

  • View or participate in a discussion area where you can report issues and ask questions about the samples for each technology area.

Additionally, samples and downloads are available for PowerPivot for Excel.

Analysis Services Features in 2008

The R2 release of SQL Server Analysis Services 2008 supports the following features that were introduced in SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services.

Aggregation Design Improvements

Analysis Services includes the following improvements to designing aggregations:

  • New Aggregation designer. A new Aggregation designer makes it easier to browse and modify aggregation designs. Aggregation designs are now shown grouped by measure group. A new view for manual aggregation design is now available for advanced users.

  • Simplified and enhanced Aggregation Design and Usage-Based Optimization Wizards. These updated wizards let you modify the storage settings for aggregations in one or more partitions at a time and more easily set aggregation usage settings. The Usage-Based Optimization Wizard now also lets you append new aggregations to an existing aggregation.

  • New AMO Warnings. These new warning messages alert users when they depart from aggregation design best practices.

Cube Design Improvements

The cube wizard has been simplified and enhanced. The improvements help you create better cubes in fewer steps.

Dimension Design Improvements

Analysis Services includes the following improvements to designing dimensions:

  • New Attribute Relationship designer. The dimension editor has a new Attribute Relationship designer that makes it easier to browse and modify attribute relationships.

  • New AMO Warnings. These new warning messages alert users when they depart from design best practices or make logical errors in database design.

  • Simplified and enhanced Dimension Wizard. This latest version of the wizard auto-detects parent-child hierarchies, provides safer default error configuration, and supports specification of member properties.

  • New Key Columns dialog box. This new dialog box makes editing key columns easier.

  • Key column support in the Properties Panel. Key columns can now be edited in the Properties panel.

  • Updated Dimension Structure tab. This tab now works with the new Attribute Relationship designer and is simpler to use, which makes modifying attributes and hierarchies easier.

Backup and Restore Improvements

The backup and restore functionality in Analysis Services has a new storage structure and enhanced performance in all backup and restore scenarios. 

Improved Storage Structure

The new storage structure provides a more robust repository for the archived database. By using the new storage structure, there is no practical limit to the size of the database file, nor is there a limit to the number of files that a database can have.

Improved Performance

The new backup and restore functionality achieves increased performance. Tests on different sized databases and with various numbers of files have shown significant performance improvements. To obtain actual values that are based on your specific needs, we encourage you to perform your own testing against your own database.

Analysis Services Personalization Extensions

Analysis Services personalization extensions enable developers to create new Analysis Services objects and functionality and to provide these objects and functionality dynamically in the context of the user session. Developers do not have to create detailed specifications about where or how to find the extended functionality. Instead, developers can share these new objects and functionality immediately with both end users and other developers. For more information, see Analysis Services Personalization Extensions Sample.