Monday, April 19, 2010

Introduction of this blog and its author

If you've found this post, then you've arrived early to the action. My goal with this blog is to introduce myself and share what I've learned most recently in my growth as a Business Intelligence developer.

A bit about myself: I have worked in the IT industry, mainly in the support arena, for over 20 years. My first PC was a brand new Timex/Sinclair 1000 which my father and I modified to have an external keyboard. I fell in love with programming then when I found a listing which showed how to poke values into memory spaces. Doing so would cause interference patterns on a TV with it's stationed tuned slightly out of phase (now that ages me) resulting in it playing the Star Spangled Banner, quite a feat for a system that had no sound functionality.

I began my professional career in application and hardware support implementing CADD systems. I moved into desktop support, then network administration, and back to application support on Windows Servers. My education introduced me to several programming languages, including Basic, Fortran, Pascal, C++, and Java. I was also exposed to dBase IV, Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle in the professional realm. I decided early on that, though I didn't have the formal education to be a developer, that's where I wanted to be. Thankfully, I found an opportunity to pursue that about 3 years ago and haven't looked back since.

Today, I work in a business analysis group for one of the largest security software companies in the world. Our focus in this group is to provide business intelligence to all levels of management in the software support organization. The tools we use include Microsoft SQL Servers 2005 & 2008, Reporting Services (SSRS), Analysis Services (SSAS), and ASP.Net 3.5. My focus is on utilizing SSAS as a platform for consistent reporting of metrics utilized to meet performance goals.

I plan to use this blog as a way to share with the community the things I've learned along the way. I've been finding it difficult to find information on exactly what I've been doing. I may be far off the mark but it seems that the BI community isn't doing quite what my organization is in implementing custom applications presenting information from data held in multiple cubes. That has been a particular challenge in SSRS, which seems designed to best handle one dataset per table/matrix/tablix. I've also found that Microsoft doesn't seem to treat OLAP access in ASP.Net development with the same level of ease as SQL access. Thus, I've had to search out solutions for that, as well.

It's as if the only way Microsoft really wants OLAP data to be available is via Excel, and there is a big difference between data and information. Giving someone a pivot table in Excel, while easy, does not help them make decisions. One must have some specific intelligence to turn that data into information, which is what I and my team strive to do. Perhaps something I post here will help you do the same.

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