What's the best/easiest way to get into the MS BI stack on my own (preferably with a [kindle] book)? Specifically, I'd like to learn more about SSIS, SSRS, and SSAS in that order. I've tried looking at books on amazon, but I really have no idea.

Some background: I just graduated with my bachelor's in computer science, and am going back for my masters in comp sci. I work right now as a C# developer, with some web and database background. I don't necessarily want to become a BI master, but I'd like to gain an intermediate-level understanding of the platform.

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    "SSRS" from my experience: uuuuuuuggghhhhh! – Philip Dec 15 '11 at 19:33
  • My understanding (and I may be wrong) is that a new version of SQL Server is about to be released and maybe those tools may be history. – NoChance Dec 15 '11 at 20:39
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    If you can actually write code to interface with the database you can probably skip SSIS. Unless you like debugging mysterious errors. – Wyatt Barnett Dec 16 '11 at 0:33
  • @Philip: I'm intrigued - do you have a preferred reporting tool? – user4234 Dec 16 '11 at 13:52
  • @Wyatt: Really? I've done things like this before in python and moving between MySQL databases, but never at the speed that SSIS executes (maybe my logic was flawed?). Also- I do like how SSIS can cross between access/excel as that's what many non technical business people speak. I DON'T like the lack of SFTP in SSIS, but perhaps that will be fixed in the next release? – Dylan McCurry Dec 16 '11 at 15:00

This is one of those areas where you'll be richly rewarded by first learning the theory before learning a particular tool stack.

The twin bibles of data warehousing theory are Bill Inmon's Building The Data Warehouse and Ralph Kimball's The Data Warehouse Toolkit. There's a lot of platform-war kerfuffle amongst BI insiders who treat these like religious texts. Stay out of that as much as you can...the fight is more about personal style than technical correctness.

Bird's-eye view, I'd recommend going with Inmon if you're a "measure twice, cut once" type of developer who likes to plan carefully, then build. Conversely, I'd recommend Kimball if you like to jump in feet first and start prototyping.

Either one of these books will serve perfectly well to teach you the basics of BI theory and practice.

After that, since your primary interest is in SSIS - the ETL component in Microsoft's stack - I'd recommend Kimball's The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit. This will teach you why you're doing ETL and what the common practices are. You could potentially skip the first two recommendations and jump straight to this one if you thrive on a steeper learning curve, but I strongly recommend attacking this book before doing a Microsoft-specific one.

From there, there are half a dozen books about SSIS 2008 specifically, or you could get The Microsoft Data Warehouse Toolkit. All of these have Kindle editions, as do the SSIS-specific books from most publishers (Wrox, Wiley, etc.)


There are multiple aspects to the Microsoft BI stack. You have Reporting Services (useful for building dashboards and structured reports over data), Analysis Services (for creating cubes), and PowerPivot (let's you slice and dice data on the fly) to name the 3 big components.

O'Reilly has a great series of books focused on data modeling and management including the Data Model Resource Book (I linked to one of 3 volumes and highly recommend them as starting points for any data modeling), The Data Warehouse Toolkit (teaches the concepts of data warehousing from the ground up), and finally what you're looking for is The Microsoft Data Warehouse Toolkit which covers how to apply what you learned from the second book specifically on the Microsoft stack.

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