Analysis Services Permissions

Jens Vestergaard walks through permission scope in SQL Server Analysis Services:

What this post will not be about: The how to setup basic dimension security in SSAS nor How do you manage Security.

In this post, I will highlight the difference between standard NTFS permission scope and the way SSAS handles Allowed and Denied sets when dealing with multiple roles. So if you define multiple roles on your solution, you should be on the lookout, because SSAS has some surprises.

It’s interesting that allowed permissions take precedent over denied permissions, as that’s not the norm for either NTFS or the SQL Server database engine.

Monitoring MDX Query Result Serialization

Chris Webb digs into MDX query serialization.

Part 1:

The Serialize Results Begin event marks the point where SSAS starts to construct the cellset returned. The Serialize Results Current events that immediately follow it, with EventSubclass “1 – Serialize Axes” show SSAS serialising the tuples that are present on the Columns axis (listed as Axis 0 in the TextData column), the Rows axis (Axis 1) and the Where clause (Slicer Axis). The numeric values in the ProgressTotal column for the Serialize Results Current events shows the number of tuples on each axis: the two tuples on columns are the two measures, the six tuples on rows are the six years, and there’s one tuple on the slicer. After that SSAS gets the data for each of the cell values (as shown by the Query Subcube Verbose event – note that this query is running on a warm cache) and there is then a Serialize Results Current event with EventSubclass “2 – Serialize Cells”; the ProgressTotal column shows that twelve cells (2 columns * 6 rows) in total were returned.  The Serialize Results End event shows that SSAS has finished constructing the cellset and not surprisingly it’s followed immediately by the Query Cube End and Query End events.

Part 2:

There are a couple of interesting things to note about this query. First, SQL Server Management Studio on my laptop says that it takes nine seconds to run, even on a warm cache; the Duration column for the Query End event in Profiler, however, shows a value of around six seconds. The three second difference must be the time it takes for SSAS to return the cellset to SQL Server Management Studio, and for SQL Server Management Studio to render the results (my guess is that it’s the second operation that takes the majority of this time – other client tools may be more efficient at rendering large resultsets).

I have so little experience with MDX that this is a wide world of amazement to me.  So it’s very nice that Chris is digging into this and peeling away some of the mystery.

The SSAS Flight Recorder

Bill Anton digs into the SSAS Flight Recorder:

During a recent engagement involving an Analysis Services health assessment, one of the things I noted was that the Flight Recorder was enabled. During the post-assessment review with the client, where we walked through the report and recommendations, I quickly explained what the Flight Recorder was, why it should be disabled (answer: never used, wasted resources, etc), and that disabling it would not produce a noticeable performance gain – the recommendation was mostly out of habit.

Bill’s answer is to build custom performance monitoring.

Automating SSAS deployments

Matt Smith as introduced SQL Server Analysis Services deployments to Octopus Deploy:

The only thing missing was SSAS. After watching Chris Webb’s video tutorial –Cube Deployment, Processing and Admin on Project Botticelli, I decided it had to use Microsoft.AnalysisServices.Deployment.exe. After a bit of scripting and testing, I managed to write a PowerShell that updates the xml config files for the deployment – it sets the ProcessingOption to DoNotProcess’. It updates the Data source – where the cube will refresh the data from. The script isn’t perfect. For starters, what if you have more then one data source? Also what if your not using SQL Server 2014? Still the great thing about open source is that other can update it. Anyone can improve it, its not reliant on me having free time. So hopefully by the time we move to SQL 2016 someone will have already updated it to work with SQL 2016.

A big part of product maturation is automated deployment.  Good on Matt for introducing that to the community.

Performance Monitoring For SSAS

Bill Anton has more information on performance monitoring for Analysis Services:

For query workloads, we can see important information about every single query that hits the system including details such as the total duration of the query, query text (MDX/DAX), start and end times, as well as the associated user account. We can also determine details as to how the query was executed such as the number of partitions scanned, aggregation hits/misses, cache hits/misses, other queries running at the same time, etc…all of which have an effect on the performance of any one particular query. A secondary benefit is that we’ll be able to identify the usage pattern(s) of folks using the cube. For example, is usage low/moderate throughout the week with a heavy spike on Friday mornings?

Bonus note:  it looks like there will be an xEvents for Analysis Services GUI in SQL Server 2016.

Shredding SSAS XEs

Bill Anton shows three separate methods for parsing SQL Server Analysis Services Extended Event data:

Warning, this method involves the use of .NET – proceed with caution! That said, please proceed because the results are certainly worth it.

The same 32MB file that took 5 minutes using the first method, 2 minutes using the second method, now only took ~3 seconds using this method. Also, the processing time is essentially linear – so even when we bump it up to 4 files (or ~128MB of data) its only going to take ~12 seconds. This would have brought us down to under 5 minutes to process all 3GB of data.

Again, I’m not a .NET expert (not really even a novice) so the code I’m sharing is most likely terrible…but it works (at least for me) and its fast. So here it is…read through it and feel free to heckle me in the comments 😉

Don’t heckle Bill; thank him.

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April 2017
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