OLAP improvements in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

Development , Dynamics AX , Infrastructure , Reporting , SSRS Add comments

Author Steve Boccio

Microsoft Certified Business Intelligence Developer
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist More ...

Microsoft’s approach to analyzing information for business decision making in Dynamics AX has steadily matured from the perspective (no pun intended) of both a presentation layer to the user and a development layer for the technical resource.  What was known as Business Scorecard in AX v4.0 has become a much better experience in Role Centers in AX 2009 and 2012, firmly based upon SharePoint fundamentals.  And what the developer experienced (and probably dreaded using) in Cube Definition Manager is now set in its rightful place in the Back Office tool sets of Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS), Visual Studio and finally SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), with some initial help from a very intuitive project wizard.

So let’s look a little closer at some of the OLAP improvements AX2012 has to offer.  Creating perspectives in AX2012 has become much more robust with the addition of AX views as possible perspective sources.  Let’s not forget that these views also show up in the DSV in the OLAP project, making it more manageable there as well.  And you won’t have to run through hours of mindless editing of initial OLAP projects because some of the vanilla tables have been stripped of fields due to the limitation of your configuration and license keys. Now the fields in the tables for those locked modules stay put in the database and are just unpopulated. Much of this headache of configuration and deployment has been given to the new Analysis Services Project Wizard, and it does a fairly decent job.

On the presentation side of things, Business Overview web parts have been enhanced to display financial and KPI indicators. Filtering data in these web parts has become more flexible, allowing multiple filters by dates, actual values, splits or links to AX menu items or URLs. Support for Report Builder has been shifted from users producing ad-hoc reporting from report models written against the OLTP database to analytical ad-hoc reporting sourced against OLAP cubes.  It seemed as much as we wanted to produce and deploy report models to the users for ad-hoc reporting, it never really caught on and I think the major reason for this was the learning curve for users and models in Report Builder.   With this shift from OLTP ad-hoc reporting, the design of the reports in Report Builder has become more intuitive for the user.

Another nice addition to AX2012R2 is the Analyze Data button on List Pages in the AX client. This is only possible on SQL2012 and Power View components as prerequisites and a little leg work in building out a series of objects to support the button, including a data source, class, menu item, and button on the form.

Finally, we cannot truly talk about improvements to AX2012 BI without the mention of ODATA Query Services. ODATA is a standard protocol for creating and consuming data APIs. This concept provides a user with a service that can be used to write and enhance AX queries for unlimited possibilities in obtaining information. Here is a good page for your ODATA discovery http://axodataq.codeplex.com/documentation

That’s all for now!

Author Steve Boccio

Microsoft Certified Business Intelligence Developer
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist More ...


Microsoft Dynamics AX is a robust ERP and Lean manufacturing enabler. The latest release, Dynamics AX 2012, combines the powerful planning and execution features required of comprehensive ERP integrated with the features of Lean to assist the "blended" manufacturer. Contact Agility Business Solutions, Inc. to learn more.

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