Tim Kent's Blog

UK First For Adatis

We are excited to announce that Adatis are the first organisation in the UK to achieve the Performance Management Specialisation of the Microsoft Partner Program.  This outstanding achievement reflects our expertise in, and ongoing commitment to, building and delivering solutions using the Microsoft Business Intelligence and Performance Management technologies and follows extensive effort to meet the rigorous standards required to achieve this goal

Preparation Guide for Performancepoint Exam 70-556

From Nick and Adrian

The official preparation guide for the exam can now be found at http://www.microsoft.com/learning/exams/70-556.mspx and the official exam is available on Prometric

I can concur with Adrian that the topics are pretty much spot on and that all of the subject areas appear as per the guide.

And congrats to Adrian - though of course we'd expect nothing less ;)

Edit: Don't forget to register for Second shot before you take it! http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/offers/secondshot/default.mspx

Fancy a new challenge - BI consultants wanted

Whenever we bump into colleagues from other BI companies on our travels, the topic almost without fail turns at some point to how hard it is to find BI resources.  It seems that all the decent BI people are either happily employed, gone contracting or have set up their own company!

So whilst we try and keep our blogs from being too commercial (though of course, the more people who read them the more know about Adatis) this is a blatant job advert - we are currently looking for all levels of BI consultant to help resource our expanding pipeline as the Adatis WAGs are getting fed up with dinner for one! :)

So if you think you're as geeky as us, can't get enough of BI and want to join an exciting, fast-growing BI consultancy then get in touch - careers @adatis.co.uk

And just as a tempter here's Sacha discussing AOB at the December Team meeting ;)






Adatis Consulting Earns Microsoft Certified Partner Status

We are delighted to announce that Adatis Consulting Limited has officially earned Microsoft Certified Partner status, focussing on Business Intelligence. This reaffirms Adatis’s expertise with Microsoft technologies and follows our continued investment in delivering class-leading Business Intelligence solutions, using cutting-edge technologies from Microsoft; including PerformancePoint Server 2007

Book: Rational Guide to Monitoring and Analyzing with PerformancePoint Server 2007

Christmas came early last week when a copy of the First PPS book to be published dropped through our letter box - Thanks Nick and Adrian :)

 The Rational Guide to Monitoring and Analyzing with Microsoft Office Performancepoint Server 2007 (Rational Guides)

For those of you aren't familiar with Rational Guides the format is designed to get you up and running with a product rather than be an in-depth technical reference and this is exactly what the authors achieve with this book.  I suspect that Nick wrote the majority of this book whilst Adrian will have more focus on the upcoming companion book

Following the introduction the book is split into:

  • Installation and Configuration;
  • The elements (a chapter on each of the core dashboard elements); and
  • Implementation and Management (Deploying and securing PPSM)

and flows nicely from one chapter to the next with writing at a suitable level - not ridiculously technical and not condescending.  The KPI chapter I found particularly useful as this is one of the deeper areas of PPSM.

Whilst not wanting to sound like a free advert, this is an excellent book for getting started and reaching a good level with PPS M&A.  If you are looking for a hardcore technical guide to PerformancePoint then:

a) other than what's on technet, it doesn't exist yet!; and

b) this isn't it.

Having said that, the authors point out a number of quirks, bugs and pitfalls of PPS M&A that you might never find out otherwise.  Definitely a recommended read for anyone who wants to get up and running with PPSM

One thing to note is that although ProClarity is marketed as the "Analyze" component of PerformancePoint it is not covered in this book - that's easily a book in itself!



Reporting Services features not supported in Sharepoint Integration Mode

The latest version of SQL Books Online details the features of Reporting Services that are available in Sharepoint Integration mode and, more importantly, the features that aren't!!  Be careful if you plan to migrate as there are some surprising omissions:

  • URL addressing is different in SharePoint integrated mode. SharePoint URLs are used to reference reports, report models, shared data sources, and resources. The report server folder hierarchy is not used. (This basically means no querystring parameters!!!)
  • Reporting Services custom security extensions cannot be deployed or used on the report server. The report server includes a special-purpose security extension that is used whenever you configure a report server to run in SharePoint integrated mode. This security extension is an internal component, and it is required for integrated operations.
  • Report Manager or Management Studio cannot be used to manage a report server instance that is configured for SharePoint integration.
  • Data-driven subscriptions are not available. This applies to all editions.
  • The rs.exe command line utility is not supported. The utility does not support the SOAP endpoint used for programmatic access to a report server that runs in SharePoint integrated mode.
  • Linked reports are not supported.
  • My Reports is not supported.
  • Job management features that allow you to stop a long-running report process are not supported.
  • Batching methods will not be supported.
  • I haven't tested it yet but I have a feeling this might mean that the PerformancePoint Planning operational reports may not work in this mode

    The online (!) Books Online article is here

    PPS exam preparation

    I was invited to Redmond last Friday to help with preparation of the new 71-556 PerformancePoint exam.  I can't give away too much about what we were doing without violating my NDA but I got to meet some very cool people from MS and beyond:


    (Left to right) Eric Melcher, Tim Kashani, Russ Damske, Alyson Powell Erwin, Alvin Hui, Jesper Wittendorf and yours truly

    The exam should be out of beta early next year...

    PerformancePoint Planning Assignment Web Part for SharePoint

     Update: Version 1.1 is now available 

    So the Adatis dev team have been busy!

    As I mentioned in a previous post, one of our clients wanted to be able to show a user's active PPS Planning assignments in their Sharepoint Portal in the same way you can see them in the assignments pane within Excel when you have the add-in installed.  "No Problem!" we said naively, assuming it wouldn't be too tricky as everything is passed back and forth using the web service.   Anyone who has developed .Net Web Parts will know it's a little convoluted, particularly if you want incorporate a decent user interface.  Calling the  Planning Web Service itself was relatively straight-forward though a couple of things were far from obvious and required work-arounds.

    One of the development requirements was that none of the PPS dll's should need to be installed on the server as it is purely a SharePoint box.  This made things a little more tricky as there is a bit more going on in the PPS excel add-in than just calling the web service!  It also needed to be configurable using the web part property editor as well using allowing users with the PPS Add-in installed to click on the hyperlink and open the assignment in Excel

    Anyway a few weeks (a few late nights and a few more grey hairs) later it's ready for a beta release:


    There is currently no documentation around the planning web service so we took a good look round the dll's that get installed with PPS using a great freeware product called Reflector and managed to piece together what was going in Excel when you connected to the PPS Server. 


    If anyone would like to try the web part please drop us an e-mail devteam@adatis.co.uk and we'll be happy to send you a copy (with the usual disclaimers in case your server falls over in a heap!) in return for some testing and feedback.  We've only had a limited amount of time to test it so any help is much appreciated.  Once it's stable we'll put it on our Web site for download.

    Thanks to Bully for just a little bit of help with the code ;).  Thanks also to Kevin White and Scott Heimendinger at Microsoft for some pointers in the right direction.

    Nick Barclay: PerformancePoint Monitoring Data Source Connection Problems

    Whilst I try to avoid just blogging about other people's blogs, this one is too important to miss and the more people who can find it the better. 

    Nick Barclay (who just in case you don't know is the author the upcoming Rational Guide To Monitoring and Analyzing with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007) has done a definitive post on Data source connection problems in PPS monitoring.

    I reckon it's a pretty safe bet that "Why can't I connect to a data source?" will become the most asked question around PPS Monitoring.  Nick's post has the answers!