My Farewell to PerformancePoint Planning

Seventeen months after PerformancePoint Server was made available to the general public (September 2007), Microsoft has announced today (January 23, 2009) that they are discontinuing the Planning module.  The Monitoring & Analytics module will be moved to Office 14 SharePoint.  Planning will receive one more update with a Service Pack 3 release in mid-2009 and will be supported for existing customers. 

Official Microsoft Video Announcement from Guy Weismantel
http://download.microsoft.com/download/A/E/E/AEEE26CB-1536-4EC9-809E-536F6E49A1BB/Guy_Weismantel_BI_Announcement_MBR.wmv

http://blogs.msdn.com/bi/archive/2009/01/23/microsoft-bi-strategy-update.aspx

On a personal note, I am truly disappointed as I have invested a great deal of time learning the Planning module.  I learned of this announcement yesterday and I spent last night reflecting over my experiences with the help of a few beers.  I have been working with the software since May 2007, four months prior to the release date.  I dove in head first and have read nearly four PerformancePoint books.  I received my PerformancePoint certification in June 2008.  I had recently begun writing a white paper on PPS Planning Data Integration using SQL Server Integration Services.  As I reflect over the past two years of my career, I remind myself that it’s not all for naught.  I’ve learned a great deal about Business Performance Management and Business Intelligence that will still apply to my career.  Through this blog, I have met some terrific people across the globe who shared the same passion and aspirations around PerformancePoint.  And for that, I am very thankful.  For those of you silent readers, I hope you have found my postings useful.  My blog will live on.  I haven’t determined the format yet, but it will surely focus on other areas of Business Intelligence and wherever my work and life experiences may take me.  You haven’t heard the last from me.

Friends and curious readers, I raise my glass, and offer a toast to new beginnings. 

I will conclude with a quote from the last line in the movie, Gladiator, as I say my farewell to Planning:

“And now we are free.  I will see you again… but not yet… Not yet!”

 

Update January 26, 2009:

Here are a couple links to published articles on the rise and fall of PerformancePoint Planning.

http://www.olapreport.com/Comment_Bizdemise.htm
http://www.intelligententerprise.com/blog/archives/2009/01/microsofts_big_1.html

Running the Microsoft All Up BI 7.1 VPC on an external hard drive

Yesterday I decided to check out a VPC (Virtual Personal Computer) image that Microsoft offers as a free download.  I found links to the Microsoft All Up BI VPC 7.1 on Russell Christopher’s blog. 

http://performancepointblog.com/2008/12/all-up-bi-vpc-71-available-for-public-download/

This VPC contains everything you would ever want related to Microsoft BI.  SQL Server 2005, PerformancePoint, SharePoint, ProClarity, Office 2007, etc.  Hmm, I wonder when they’ll create an updated VPC with SQL Server 2008…

Anyway, I haven’t had much time to play around with it yet, but I did want to share a minor obstacle I had to overcome to get the VPC running.  I wanted to copy all the VPC files to my Western Digital My Passport 250 GB external hard drive.  However, I kept receiving an error that the drive was out of space.  This left me scratching my head because I could see I had over 230 GB of free space.  After some discussion with a co-worker, we decided I needed to reformat the external hard drive.  It comes out of the package formatted using FAT32.  FAT32 can only handle up to a 4 GB file.  That’s why I was receiving an out of space error.  So, I copied the contents of my external hard drive to my laptop (which is running Windows XP), and then opened up Computer Management by right clicking on “My Computer” and selecting “Manage”.  From here you can find “Disk Management” under “Storage”.  Select the correct drive for your external hard drive and format using NTFS.  I didn’t time how long it took, but it sure seemed like about an hour or so.  Once complete, my hard drive could store the VPC.  From that point, it wasn’t long before I was up and running.  Now I just need to figure out how I’m going to snag some more RAM for my laptop, because 2 GB of RAM is simply not enough!  I found some tips on a blog for speeding up the All Up VPC version 6, but I haven’t tried them out yet.  Another task for another day.  http://performancepointing.blogspot.com/2008/07/speeding-up-all-up-bi-vpc.html

By the way, older operating systems won’t be compatible with NTFS.  From what I’ve read, it sounds like Windows 95/98/Me won’t recognize NTFS.  So, if you’re running an older operating system, be sure to do your homework prior to reformating your external hard drive.

– ez

PerformancePoint Planning Hierarchy Sorting

We ran into an issue earlier in the year where we wanted to sort our PPS Planning Product hierarchy through an automated process as part of the nightly batch cycle.  The Product dimension is custom defined and we refresh the data for both D_Product and H_Product tables daily.  We created a flat hierarchy in the Member Set (all children have the same parent in the Member Set or H_ table).  So in order to create the hierarchical relationships, we use a Member View based off of member properties (attribute columns) in the Product dimension to create the actual hierarchy relationships.  Regardless of how you decide to create your hierarchical relationships (Member Sets versus Member Views), you’ll likely want to sort the records.  I have not had success trying to update the SequenceNumber field using BizSystemFlag = 300 methodology.  My goal was to avoid writing an actual UPDATE statement against the Appliction database, so I use the work around below when loading data to the H_Product table.  Through this SQL, I am able to set the Sequence Number using the ROW_NUMBER() OVER() functions when inserting records into the H_ table on the StagingDB using BizSystemFlag = 200.  PerformancePoint automatically increments the SequenceNumber by 1024, so I follow the same increment standards in the example below.  The SQL statement sorts the data based upon member property columns (attributes) that are user defined in the dimension.  If you are using SSIS to perform the ETL, the SQL statement would be in your OLE DB Source and the destination would be the H_Product table.  For this process to work, you would first need to delete the data from the H_ table prior to loading using BizSystemFlag = 400.

SELECT
   NULL as RowId
  ,d.MemberId
  ,0 as ParentMemberId
  ,a.SequenceNumber
  ,200 as BizSystemFlag
  ,NULL as BizSystemErrorDetails
FROM D_Product d
JOIN (   
     SELECT MemberId, 
     ROW_NUMBER() OVER(
            ORDER BY Attribute1, Attribute2, Attribute3, [Name])* 1024 as SequenceNumber
     FROM D_Product
     WHERE Label NOT IN (‘NONE’)
     ) a
ON d.MemberId = a.MemberId
ORDER BY a.SequenceNumber

 
I hope this helps.
– ez

PerformancePoint LoadingControlID

From time to time, I’ll be questioned how a record was created in PerformancePoint Planning.  A quick check of the LoadingControlID in the table of interest can provide insight into how the record was generated.  This field provides a code, normally 1000 or 2000.  But if you don’t know the meaning of the code, it does not help too much.  I performed a search over the Internet and found very little on the topic of the LoadingControlID.  So, I hope you will find this post helpful.  There is a table in the application database called LoadingControlID that contains all the definitions of these LoadingControlID’s.  Below are the definitions.

0         Unknown
1000   ReferenceDataSubmission
2000   DataLoad
3000   GenericCalculation
3001   SharesCalculation
3002   Consolidation
3003   IntercompanyReconciliation
3004   CurrencyConversion
3005   OpeningBalanceRule
3006   MovementRule
3007   SeedingRule
3008   AllocationRule
4000   DataSubmission
5000   TypeLibraryGenerated
6000   AssociationFactDataMovement

My experiences have shown that data loaded via the PPSCmd have a LoadingControlID of 2000 (DataLoad).  Data that is manually entered via the Planning Business Modeler has a code of 1000 (ReferenceDataSubmission).

When loading new records via the PPSCmd or from the “Load Data From Staging” command in Planning Business Modeler, there’s no need to populate this field as PPS generates the correct code on its own.

-ez

PerformancePoint Certification Exam 70-556

I recently found the time to sit for the PerformancePoint certification exam, 70-556.  I am pleased to say that I’m now a “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) in Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007”.  To prepare for the exam, I followed the study guide that Microsoft provides at http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exams/70-556.mspx .   M&A makes up a small portion of the exam as the guide suggests.  Good luck!

– ez

Remote PPSCmd Call

I found an interesting blog entry recently that discusses calling the PerformancePoint Planning PPSCmd.exe remotely from an SSIS Control Flow task.  I couldn’t find a place to add a comment on the site, so I decided to create a separate entry on my blog.

Here’s the link to Norm’s blog:
http://blogs.msdn.com/normbi/archive/2008/05/08/remote-ppscmd-call-from-ssis-control-flow-item-to-modeler-machine.aspx

In our scenario, the SSIS package resides on a database server, which is separate from the PPS Planning server.  Initially, I thought we couldn’t install the PPS Planning client on the database server (due to licensing issues), so we wrote a VB.Net application that remotely called PPSCmd on the PPS Planning server.  After I used this for a few months, I realized we could just as easily install the PPS Planning client on the database server, so the remote call was no longer needed.  In Norm’s blog, he suggests downloading an application from Microsoft called PSEXEC to assist in this remote call if you can’t have the ppscmd.exe file on your SSIS server.  If you choose to write a custom app to perform this function, you can borrow some of the code below.  SSIS calls the VB dll from a Script Task.  You’ll need to add the assembly as a Reference in your script task.

You can download the VB code here.

RemoteProcessCaller:  A VB dll that runs and manages a remote process

The component has a class named “RemoteProcess” and its constructor takes five arguments:

– CommandLine (string -the path and file to execute)
– Machine Name (string -the server on which to execute the process)
– UserName (string -the login account to the remote server)
– Password (string -the pw for the login account)
– Timeout (int – the time in milliseconds to run the process.)
The “RemoteProcess” class contains a string function called “RunProcess” which returns a “0” for success and the error message if applicable.
Here’s the SSIS Script Task code:

 Public Sub Main()

        Dim t As New RemoteProcess(“c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server\3.0\BizModeler\PPSCmd.exe StagingDB /Operation LoadDataFromStaging /Server http://localhost:46787 /Path “”<path>.model:<modelsite name>”” /NoValidation”, “<servername>”, “<userid>”, “<password>”, 800000)

        If Not t.RunProcess() = “0” Then
            Throw New Exception(t.RunProcess())
            Dts.TaskResult = Dts.Results.Failure
        Else
            Dts.TaskResult = Dts.Results.Success
        End If
     End Sub

End Class
Hope you find this helpful.  I found it much easier to simply install the PPS Planning ppscmd.exe on the same server as the SSIS package, so we decided to scrap this work.  Having the PPSCmd.exe local just requires changing the server argument to use the server name rather than localhost.  But if you’re in a situation where you must perform a remote process call, you can try adapting this code, or merely download the PSEXEC application from the link on Norm’s blog.  I’ve never tried the PSEXEC application so I cannot attest to it one way or the other.  Let me know how it works out for you.

-ez

Book Review: Business Intelligence with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007

As part of my new years resolution, I’ve been trying to add more “book smarts” to my “business intelligence street smarts”.  This means I’ve been spending more time reading books in my spare time to help further my career.  Thus far, I’ve actually been keeping up on my resolution which is far from the norm.  By nature, I loathe reading, but I decided to give it a try, and it hasn’t been so bad thus far.  My current focus has been on Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 (PPS).  This particular review covers the second book I’ve read on the subject, Business Intelligence with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 by Craig Utley.  On the cover there’s a quote, “An excellent introduction to PerformancePoint Server.”  I find this to be an accurate quote.  In my opinion, this book is best suited for a Project Manager or someone new to Microsoft Business Intelligence.  The first chapter is entitled, “The Case for Business Intelligence.”  It defines BI, identifies the consumers of BI, describes different methods of deliverying BI, and provides real world examples.  The second chapter gives a ten page overview of PerformancePoint Server.  Chapter Three spends thirty pages discussing Data Warehouse concepts such as dimensions, facts, ETL, and building cubes using Analysis Services.  Chapter Four defines Key Performance Indicators, gives advice on deciding what to track in your KPI’s and provides examples of various KPI’s used in multiple industries.  It then concludes with some scorecard discussion as well as strategy maps.  This is all accomplished in sixteen pages.  Chapter Five covers Monitoring and Analytics in 54 pages.  The author describes how to create data sources and scorecards, KPI’s, reports, strategy maps, and then how to put it all together using a Dashboard.  This chapter would give someone a head start with using M&A.  I found it to be easy reading.  Chapter Six is entitled “Analysis with PerformancePoint Server and ProClarity.”  45 of the 76 pages focused on ProClarity.  The rest dealt with Analytical Charts and Grid using PPS.  Chapter 7 covers PPS Planning, which I consider to be the most complex module of PPS.  This chapter was written by a contributing author, Sony Jose.  This chapter covers the basics of the Planning Administration Console, Planning Business Modeler and the add-in for Excel.  That is a lot of information to cram into 64 pages.  The content included was valuable and easy to read.  If you’re wanting to dive deep into the data integration automation or creating business rules using PEL (PerformancePoint Expression Language), you’ll need to look elsewhere.  I enjoyed the seven page section dedicated to process management.  The chapter provides a basic introduction to PPS Planning.  If you’re a PPS Planning developer, you’ll want to find other sources to gain full in-depth knowledge.  Chapter 8 covers the deployment and security aspects of PPS.  Within ten pages the author describes the software installation and configuration as well as security.  Chapter 9 is “Anaylsis with Excel 2007.”  The author spends nineteen pages detailing how to navigate within a cube using Excel 2007.  He also highlights any differences in functionality concerning cube navigation with Excel 2007 over its predecessor.  The final chapter covers SQL Server Reporting Services.  I ended up skimming this chapter as it wasn’t pertinent to my current assignment, but someone new to Reporting Services might find this 25 page section to be helpful.

Overall, I was surprised how quickly I was able to read through this 358 page book.  It was obvious to me that the author, Craig Utley, has a great deal of experience teaching Microsoft Business Intelligence.  I was pleased to read that the technical editor was Alyson Powell Erwin.  She’s a program manager for Microsoft that has a lot of experience with Monitoring and Analytics.  I have been fortunate enough to have been on many phone calls with Alyson where she provided us great technical support and suggestions for our project work at a client site.  She is well versed in M&A and would be a great choice for a technical editor.  If you’re a project manager or new to Microsoft Business Intelligence this would be a good book to introduce you to Microsoft PerformancePoint and other related Microsoft BI technologies.  If your needing to design and construct a complex PPS Planning application, you will likely want to supplement other materials to fully utilize the software.

– ez