Supporting Business Goals with BI Tools Part #2: Exploring Microsoft's BI Capabilities

Supporting Business Goals with BI Tools Part #2: Exploring Microsoft's BI Capabilities

December Blog Series: Spreading the Joy

Insights from: Understanding the Challenges of Business Intelligence: What You Should Know Before Deploying a BI Solution(Whitepaper written by Gina Pabalan)

​In order to leverage as much of your Microsoft Dynamics AX investment as possible, there are five distinct components of Microsoft's BI capability that should be understood:

SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

This is the data and discovery component, also referred to as ETL (Extract, Transform and Load). The tools within this component can automate the processes for cleansing data, consolidate data from multiple sources, and transform the data into a structure well suited for analysis (i.e., within a data OLAP cube).

SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS)

SSAS is the actual data OLAP cube, or the multidimensional database structure, and it supports sophisticated, high-performing, interactive queries via an OLAP database and incorporates integrated BI metadata. Microsoft offers 20 default (i.e., standard) cubes as part of the latest version of Dynamics AX. 

SQL Relational Database

Microsoft Dynamics AX relies on an installation of Microsoft SQL Server. In addition to the standard, highly normalized OLTP (Online Transactional Processing) relational database that houses the Dynamics AX application and transactions, organizations can opt to create a de-normalized SQL Data Mart or aggregated data sourced from Dynamics AX contained within a standard relational SQL database. In this case, the Data Mart can be used as a staging database for building an OLAP cube, or can be leveraged directly for reporting.

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)

SSRS is a reporting platform that includes tools to develop reports, to secure and manage published reports using a centralized administrative infrastructure, and to support user access to reports. It hosts published reports and provides the report builder application and framework for BI.


This is a web-based user portal used to surface BI reporting components. Dynamics AX delivers Role Centers, which are merely SharePoint-based, user-defined portals unique and specific to a role.

The following example shows the path that an end user might have to go through to get the right information on the Role Center page within Microsoft Dynamics AX, if it is not already available. This may require reaching all the way back into Dynamics AX and step by step, pulling the data out of Dynamics AX, integrating that data within the cube, validating the data in the cube, developing the chart (or report) and then surfacing that chart on the Role Center.

Read Part #1 Exploring the BI Software Vendor Landscape​. To learn more about what you should now about deploying a BI solution, be sure to download Gina Pabalan's white paper Understanding the Challenges of BI.

Related Blog Content:

Supporting Business Goals with BI Tools Part #1 Exploring the BI Software Vendor Landscape

Implementing BI Tools with Microsoft Dynamics AX Part #2: Leveraging Microsoft AX out-of-the-box BI

BI, Business Intelligence (BI)