How to Start Microsoft BI


I was helping somebody to get started on Microsoft BI and I thought why not put it as a blog to benefit others as well. I will explain Microsoft BI from a development perspective as well as from a project management perspective.

From developer’s perspective, I suggest to master SQL queries first and understand how to normalize the database up to 3rd normal form. Once you know normalization, learn how to de-normalize the database by creating data warehouse (Star/Snow flake schema). I suggest reading the following IBM book to understand multi-dimensional modeling concepts. This book is available for free, so download the PDF and read it.

http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/sg247138.html

This book has many small examples where they give you a situation and explain to you how you should model your data warehouse. I found this book to be very practical and it helped me a lot initially when I started data warehousing.

Once you know how to create multi-dimensional model in a data warehouse, next step is to learn an ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) tool like SSIS so that you can move data from relational database to a data warehouse. Your SQL skills will help you here. After this learn how to create a cube in Analysis Services. When you reach at that point, you can focus on report building and dashboard tools like SSRS, Power View and PerformancePoint to build reports, scorecards and dashboards.

From my experience the best way to learn is thru hands on labs and watching tutorial videos. Microsoft has lots of hands on labs where they give you an environment for 2 to 3 hours in each session and there is a lab manual with instructions to follow, to complete the lab. I suggest you to do those labs to learn these tools and technologies. Besides that try to find free training videos over the internet. I suggest using the following two websites.

http://www.msbiacademy.com
http://www.learn-with-video-tutorials.com/

You can also use youtube to find free training videos.

For hands-on labs, use the following links.

http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/en/us/learning-center/virtual-labs.aspx
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/virtuallabs/cc164207.aspx

Also create an account and register yourself at Microsoft Virtual Academy. They have many free courses with training videos.
http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/Home.aspx

From project management perspective, you need to understand overall life cycle of a BI project. You will go thru the steps I mentioned above but you don’t need to have in-depth knowledge of tools. You only need to understand overall steps and what tools you need to accomplish these tasks.

  1. #1 by Pritin on April 8, 2013 - 11:23 pm

    This is great! Thanks for the advice!

  2. #2 by Tresvant on April 20, 2013 - 3:39 am

    Howdy – very nice site!! I’ll bookmark it! Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

  3. #3 by Mickler Bequette on April 22, 2013 - 12:39 am

    Nice. Thanks for taking the time. I will check back to read more and tell my friends about your site.

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