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Sharepoint 2007 for beginners

Posted by thomasivarssonmalmo on June 4, 2007

I have struggled during the last two weeks with Microsofts document management, search, content management and Bi-portal, Sharepoint Server 2007.  This product is really big and it is impossible to focus on that product because you can make a career by only working with Sharepoint 2007 Server.  I am used to work with ProClaritys Analytics Server and Dashboard Server, but this is something else.
My interest is about the following features:
  • Report Center and templates for BI-portals
  • The use of Excel Services in BI-solutions and as an AS2005 data distributor/presenter

There are also some other features that are interesting but not directly BI. It is more about document management but these features can increase the business value of the report side of BI-solution:

  • Use workflow to reject and approve individual reports(XL)
  • Versioning of reports including the possibility to save snapshots or states in a report(XL)
  • The possiblity to set time schedules for reports and control how long they should be presented.

What are my conclusion then?

  • It is very hard to get good enough information about how this product works in a BI-perspective. I have bought "Professional Excel Services" (Wrox) written by some of the guys in the development team. This book have a lot of useful information but failed to explain how to set up a data connection in Sharepoint. Without that you cannot publish an XL-2007 spreadsheet with SSAS2005 data, you will only see error messages. I finally found this information in a virtual lab.
  • Excel Services is most useful for XL-applications with advanced calculations. You can put in values and get calculation results in return but since you cannot write MDX-queries in Excel2007 you can only publish a pivot-table with very limited interactivity. I can put in values in an AS2005 cube and get values in return but that is by writeback and I am not sure that this scenario is supported in Excel Services. Pivot tables with AS2005 data can be published in a Sharepoint 2007 Dashboard instead.
  • Find a good expert on Sharepoint 2007 Server that can help you with the overall view of this product.

I am still in an early learning phase regarding Sharepoint 2007 server so I could have get some things wrong. If this is the case I will return with more comments about this.


Posted in Portals | 1 Comment »

The least known newsgroup in Microsofts BI strategy?

Posted by thomasivarssonmalmo on May 29, 2007

I have found a little newsgroup on Microsoft  called "Sharepoint Business Intelligence". It has less than five hundred posts and the top answerer leads with one reply. It is a little sad to find an important group with that slow activity.
Even worse than the data mining group that  I think will see more attention after the SP2 release of the Excel2007 DM-add ins.
Today I was naive and posted a question because I will have some focus om Excel Services and Sharepoint 2007 Server during the coming weeks. The answere frequence was not that impressing. Zero.
My idea of Excel services is central repository to put your Exel2007 SSAS2005 reports in order to get the ‘one version of the truth’ and make it impossible to create local copies of that truth.
There are also other features.
SharePoint 2007 Server have a report center that will be interesting as a portal for information in SSAS2005 and SSRS2005.
Please have more attention here MS.
So far I have found out that you cannot create an Excel 2007 spreadsheet report based on SSAS2005 and publish that to Sharepoint 2007 Server. I have some problem about why the data connection file, created in Excel 2007, do not work after appload and approval in Sharepoint.
 Still I think that MS have a good product that can unite reporting with approval and a workflow. But it is a huge product and it will take some time to learn more about it. 
ProClarity Dashboard server 6.3 is a little bit easier.

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