Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
First Steps with PowerPivot
Chapter 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
First Steps with PowerPivot................................ 1
Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel is a new technology aimed at providing
selfservice Business Intelligence (BI). PowerPivot is a real revolution inside the world of data
analysis because it gives you all the power you need to perform complex analysis of
data without requiring the intervention of BI technicians. This tool, an Excel add-in,
implements a powerful in-memory database that can organize data, detect interesting
relationships, and give you a swift way to browse information.
These are some of the most interesting features of PowerPivot:
■ The ability to organize tables for the PivotTable tool in a relational way, freeing the
analyst from the need to import data as Excel worksheets before analyzing the data.
■ The availability of a fast, space-saving columnar database that can handle huge
amounts of data without the limitations of Excel worksheets.
■ DAX, a powerful programming language that defines complex expressions on top
of the relational database. DAX allows you to define surprisingly rich expressions,
compared to those that are standard in Excel.
■ The ability to integrate different sources and almost any kind of data, such as information
from databases, Excel worksheets, and sources available on the Internet.
■ Amazingly fast in-memory processing of complex queries over the whole database.
Some people might think of PowerPivot as a simple replacement for the PivotTable, some
might use it as a rapid development tool for complex BI solutions, and others might believe it
is a real replacement for a complex BI solution. PowerPivot is a great tool for exploring the BI
world and implementing BI solutions. It is not a replacement for a complex BI solution, such
as the ones built on top of Microsoft Analysis Services, but it is much more than a simple
replacement for the Excel PivotTable.
PowerPivot ills the gap between an Excel workbook and a complete BI solution, and it has
some unique characteristics that make it appealing to both Excel power users and seasoned
BI analysts. This topic examines all the features of PowerPivot, but as with any big project,
we need to start from the beginning. This chapter offers a simple introduction to the basic
features of PowerPivot. We suggest that you follow the step-by-step instructions we give
you in this chapter so that you can see on your own computer the results that we show in
the topic. In the chapters that follow, we do not use step-by-step instructions because we
think that it is better to focus most of the book on concepts rather than on “click Next”