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Setup and Configuration Considerations
There are cases, however, in which moving the calculation to the server may actually improve
performance. One such case is calculating workbooks that query a significant amount of external data. The server
can benefit from being in the data center and, thus, both closer and with better connections to the data
source than the end-user desktop machines.
There is an additional performance improvement if numerous users must calculate the same workbook,
or calculate the same workbook with different input parameters.
In the first case, assume that each user in your organization needs to open and calculate a daily market
analysis workbook. Each user who opens the workbook on the desktop incurs the cost of loading the
workbook, potentially querying external data, and calculating the workbook. When the workbook
calculation is moved to the server, the workbook is calculated once, and all the users can access the already
calculated workbook. The calculated workbook can be saved out automatically for everyone to access,
or loaded in cache so that the load time, query time, and calculate time are all saved.
A completely separate benefit to moving calculations to the server is the robustness that it provides.
If you need to calculate a workbook or set of workbooks often and repeatedly, doing so on the client
may require a relatively complex system for monitoring the processes and managing problematic states
that Excel can go into while being automated. The client Excel application is designed as an end-user
tool. There are various things that can get in the way of continuously calculating a workbook (such
as pop-up dialog boxes). Excel Services is designed as a server, and, as such, is robust and has high
availability. A common scenario that follows this description is doing parametric sweeps on models
in workbooks.
Whether your goal is to free up the client, improve performance, or improve robustness, you should
consider the setup and configuration scenarios presented in this chapter.
Setup and Configuration Considerations
There are a number of things to take into account when planning to use Excel Services to offload
workbook calculations. First, if you are moving the calculation to the server because it takes a significant
amount of time on the client, it is assumed that you turn automatic workbook calculation off. The
workbook should be in Manual calculation mode, and your solution code on the server should
programmatically trigger calculations. The rest of the considerations are outside of the workbook and specifically in
Excel Services settings.
Excel Services Settings
The default settings for Excel Services are optimized for multiple users publishing and sharing
workbooks. The server is optimized for business intelligence (BI) scenarios where many people are viewing
the same workbook in a dashboard, and, thus, caching is highly leveraged. The default settings are also
geared toward ensuring that the server is secure and tightly controlled out of the box. To this end, there
are various limitations on workbook size, for example.
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