Business Intelligence Overview

Dynamics AX 2009

Microsoft Dynamics AX provides a model driven approach for developing Business Intelligence (BI) applications that use the SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) development environment. Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services provides online analytical processing (OLAP) functionality.

An OLAP query – called a cube - is a set of related measures and dimensions that is used to analyze data.

Cubes can be used as data sources for:

  • Integrating menu item reports and Role centers.

  • Integrating Web parts in Role centers.

  • Browsing aggregated data that uses Microsoft Excel 2007.

You use several different tools to create and customize cubes. The following table lists the tools that you use to create and customize BI cubes.

Tool

Description

Application Object Tree

Microsoft Dynamics AX cubes are defined in the AOT. You can specify measures and dimensions at different levels and on different objects in the AOT using the BI properties that appear in the Properties sheet. An OLAP perspective is used to identify the tables that contain the measures and dimensions for a cube.

BI tools in Microsoft Dynamics AX

Microsoft Dynamics AX provides tools that are used to generate and update BI projects. On the Microsoft Dynamics AX menu, point to Tools, and then point to Business Intelligence (BI) Tools.

After you create cubes in the AOT, you can generate a BI project so that you can work with the cubes in Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS). For example, in BIDS you can define calculations and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be used to further analyze the data.

You can also modify existing cubes. For example, you may want to add measures or dimensions to an existing cube so that it contains additional data. The BI tools provided by Microsoft Dynamics AX allow you to update an existing BI project.

Business Intelligence Development Studio

BIDS is Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 with additional project types that are specific to SQL Server 2005 business intelligence. BIDS provides a variety of designers, tools, and wizards to work with the objects in BI projects that are generated from cubes in the AOT. You can define or update cube features. For example, you may want to update the goals for the KPIs for an existing cube. You can deploy and process cubes from within BIDS.

SQL Server Analysis Server

SSAS is the core data layer of the Microsoft BI platform. SSAS provides online analytical processing (OLAP) functionality for BI applications. Cubes are deployed to a SSAS database. You can process cubes directly from an SSAS database.

BI content that is installed with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 provides a model for developing BI solutions in the Application Object Tree (AOT). The following content is available:

  • Default Cubes

    • General Ledger cube

    • Human Resources Management cube

    • Sales cube

    • Purchase cube

    • Accounts Receivable cube

    • Project Accounting cube

    • Production cube

    • Customer Relationship Management cube

    • Expense Management cube

    • Accounts Payable cube

  • Role centers. Role centers display BI content such as KPIs and trend reports.

  • Dynamics AX project. You can open a Dynamics AX project in BIDS to customize default cubes and other BI content such as KPIs and calculated measures.

  • OLAP Perspectives in the AOT. You can add data to pre-built cubes by modifying the corresponding perspectives in the AOT.

Developer tasks include:

  • Creating a new cube. For more information, see Defining Cubes in Microsoft Dynamics AX.

  • Updating measures and dimensions in the AOT for an existing cube.

  • Updating cube features such as KPIs and calculated measures in BIDS.

  • Adding new KPIs to Web parts in Role Center pages.

  • Generating a business intelligence project.

  • Deploying cubes in a business intelligence project.

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