As a Business Intelligence Consultant, I do a decent amount of speaking, interacting with the community, and have written and contributed on a few SQL Server books. A question I’m often asked is if I can recommend any good books which brings me to this blog post. I wanted to make you aware of four books for learning data warehousing and other MS BI technologies that I’ve found incredibly helpful over the years I’ve spent designing and implementing enterprise data warehouse and business intelligence solutions.
Ralph Kimball & Margy Ross
In my opinion this should be required reading for everyone working in the business intelligence field. This book is money! The first five chapters are amazing if you need to learn how to design a dimensional model from scratch. The book is a (surprisingly) very easy read and the concepts are simple to follow because the examples used by the authors are simple. For example, the first case study used is a retail business, which most everyone can can wrap their head around with little effort. Another really nice thing about this book is that its written from a technology-agnostic standpoint so you don’t have to worry about getting lost in the minutia of any particular technology that you may or may not be familiar with. Although this list is in no particular order The Data Warehouse Toolkit book would be number one. :)
Irina Gorbach, Alexander Berger & Edward Melomed
Whether you’re a beginner or an SSAS pro, this book is superb. If you’re new to SSAS and need help getting your head wrapped around the basics of SSAS cube space and the difference between sets and tuples, this book is for you. If you’re an experienced SSAS developer and need to read up on how SSAS manages memory and thread allocation, this book is for you. This one stays on my desk.
See? Sitting right next me as I type this. Don’t mind the mess. ;)
Patrick LeBlanc, Jessica Moss, Dejan Sark & Dustin Ryan
Ok, I know what you’re thinking: “Dustin! This is your book! You shameless self-plugger you!” Let me say a couple things about that. 1) I don’t get a dime if you buy the book. No royalties for me so I could care less if you actually buy it. 2) This is a great book if you’re new to MS business intelligence in general or if you’re new to a couple specific technologies and would really like a good introduction into those technologies. And 3) I don’t think you should get the book because I think so highly of myself. I would recommend that you buy the book because I think so highly of the other authors. I personally know Patrick LeBlanc, the lead author on this book, having worked on projects with him at Pragmatic Works and have met Jessica Moss. Believe me when I say that they truly know their stuff.
One of the things I really appreciate about this book is that it provides an excellent introduction into the technologies you have at your disposal. The very first chapter is called “Which Analysis and Reporting Tools Do You Need?” and is an excellent way to start the larger challenge of designing an effect BI solution. So if you’re new to MS BI, this is an excellent book.
If you’re not so new to BI, but would love to learn more the Power BI technologies such as Power Query, Power View, Power Pivot and Power Map, this book would be an excellent place to start. Or if you want to learn how to design an optimal Tabular Model or perform data mining on your data, this book covers those topics, too. All in all, this book is excellent in its quality and breadth of information regarding MS BI.
Brian Knight, Devin Knight, Jessica Moss, Mike Davis & Chris Rock
No BI pro’s library would be complete without an excellent ETL title and this book fits that bill. You can design the perfect dimensional model but if you can’t load it quickly, efficiently, and correctly your data warehouse is going to be a well-designed empty database.
This book does three things that I really like and that are important to loading a data warehouse: Handling incremental loads, advanced data cleansing techniques, and loading dimension and fact tables. The Professional Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Integration Services book may spend a bit too much time for my tastes on the introduction to SSIS, but the book gets deep fast even going as far as covering how to design your own SSIS components.
If you’re in the market for some great resources for learning data warehouse design and Microsoft BI, I think you’ll find these books very useful.
What are your “must have” books for the BI professional? Leave a comment and let me know.