The Birth of SSAS Compare

Noemi Moreno, Red Gate Business Intelligence Specialist

Software vendors – even Microsoft – tend to forget about the needs of business intelligence developers. We are a rare and rather invisible species. For example, BIDS remained in VS 2008 until SQL Server 2012. It took until this release before we got something as simple as an “undo” function.

Before I joined Red Gate as a BI specialist, I worked on SQL Development. I’ll never forget the time I discovered Red Gate’s SQL Compare tool and how it reduced the task of preparing a database release from a couple of days to ten minutes. When I moved to SSAS, MDX and cubes, I became frustrated with the deployment process because I couldn’t find a tool that made Cube releases as easy as they are with SQL Compare.

This became my quest. I pitched the idea to a few people in Red Gate’s regular Down Tools Week, when everyone puts down their day-to-day tasks and works on their own projects. My task was to reason with a roomful of cynical developers, hardened to the blandishments of project managers, for help to develop a tool that would compare two different SSAS databases and create the script to process only the objects that needed processing, thereby reducing release time to only a few minutes.

I walked to the podium and gave them the full story of the distressed BI specialists, doomed to spend tedious hours preparing deployment scripts. A few developers recovered from their torpor to cast a languid eye at my presentation. It wasn’t enough. In a sudden impulse, I blurted out a promise to perform a flamenco dance for just the team if the tool was able to successfully compare two SSAS databases and generate a script by the end of the week.

I was lucky enough that some of them believed me and jumped in: David Pond (Dev), Matt Burton (Dev), Tilman Bregler (Dev), Shobana Sekar (Test), Ruchija Raj (Test), Nick Sutherland (Product Manager) and Irma Tanovic (BI). They didn’t know that Irma and I would be away on a conference in Amsterdam and would leave them without our support.

But to my surprise, they had a working tool by the time we came back – basic, and with a few bugs, but a working tool nonetheless! Seeing it compare a very basic SSAS database, detect the changes and generate the scripts was amazing! Something that normally takes half a day was done in under a minute.

Since then, a few months have passed and a BI Tools team has been created at Red Gate to work full time on BI tools for BI developers, starting with SSAS Compare. How cool is that? So download the free beta and give us your feedback.

And the flamenco? I still need to deliver that. Tilman reminds me every day! I need to get the full flamenco costume.