Business Intelligence in SharePoint 2010 with PerformancePoint Services : PerformancePoint Services Overview

2/26/2011 9:07:41 AM
PerformancePoint Services is relatively new even to veteran SharePoint users and administrators. The 2010 version of SharePoint is the first to include PerformancePoint Services as a base part of the installation. The product was born from a merger of Microsoft’s Business Scorecard Manager and products acquired from ProClarity. The first version of PerformancePoint was launched in 2007 and was initially sold under a separate license.

In early 2009, Microsoft announced plans to roll it into the SharePoint product. Effective in 2009, owners of the SharePoint Enterprise CAL became licensed for PerformancePoint; however, it remained a separate installation. With SharePoint 2010, PerformancePoint Services is now rolled into the SharePoint installation.

Despite being the “new kid” on the SharePoint block, the product is one of the more heavily anticipated components of SharePoint 2010. This is due primarily to its capacity to place rich report creation capabilities into the hands of power users. Users who are interested in seeing real-time analytical metrics can create reports that they can see updated whenever the data changes. No longer will they have to wait on a reporting tool or another department to generate a monthly or quarterly report. Additionally, some reports provide interaction for report consumers, which will enable them to more deeply analyze specific metrics of greater interest. Thus, they are no longer limited to the information they can glean from predefined report formats. Following are three example scenarios:

  • A company’s advertising department is trying to target its advertising based on a number of factors. One objective is to help the company achieve its regional and product sales goals. At the same time, a limited advertising budget requires it to make appropriate decisions on where to place advertisements. Every month, advertising dollars are designated to specific television spots with all the major networks. To make the right decisions, the brand managers need to be able to determine which product lines are on track to sell above the target levels, and which ones are falling short. By having sales data available immediately, they can make more rapid decisions about where to and how often to place advertisements.

  • A sales executive is reviewing sales data for the last quarter. In reviewing a graph of sales, he notices that one product line had lower sales during the period. With one click of the mouse, he can reform the chart by drilling down into that one product line to view individual products within the product line. He then notices that sales of most products within the product line remained steady during the quarter; however, one specific SKU underperformed. He could also see how the same data looks on a regional basis. With no individual region standing out as a problem area, he can return to the previous graph. From there, he can once again drill down to see sales for the one product, broken down by monthly or weekly timely periods. Having this power to regenerate graphs on demand enables people to isolate a problem area, which in turn enables them to make the decisions necessary to correct the problem.

  • A product manufacturing company has several plants that have been producing below target levels. Several factors could help drive this, including frequency of safety incidents, capacity utilization, availability of just-in-time materials, and several other components. At the same time, other plants may be producing above their target levels. By having the appropriate metrics available to them, executives can strategically shift resources as appropriate to help the plants that are underachieving.

Getting Started with a PerformancePoint Service Application

To configure a PerformancePoint Service application, you must have SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise installed and configured. Neither SharePoint Foundation 2010 nor SharePoint Server 2010 Standard offers the PerformancePoint Service application.

Before getting started with a PerformancePoint Services site, you need to have a service application established for PerformancePoint Services. It is recommended that a new service application be created for testing purposes, which is done by following these steps:

Open SharePoint Central Administration by clicking the SharePoint 2010 Central Administration link from All Programs, Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products menu.

Under Application Management, click Manage Service Applications.

In the Service Applications Ribbon, select New and then PerformancePoint Service Application from the list. The New PerformancePoint Service Application Wizard opens.

Enter a name for the service application, which is the name of the PPS service application and needs to be unique. It is helpful to start the name with PerformancePoint so that it appears at a logical place in the list of other service applications on the ServiceApplications.aspx page, and it is immediately clear what the purpose of this service application is in the future. A unique GUID, assigned at creation time, can distinguish this service application from any other service application. Figure 1 shows a sample of the wizard.

Figure 1. The new PerformancePoint Service Application Wizard.

You can optionally choose to make this service application part of the Default settings for all future web applications. If you later create additional SharePoint web applications on your SharePoint farm—that is, for additional URLs, such as http://external.mycompany.com and http://projects.mycompany.com—the default set of service applications can be shared among those web applications.

Next choose to use an existing application pool, or create a new one. A general best practice is to create a new application pool, keeping in mind that server performance can degrade if too many application pools run at one time. Then determine whether to use a predefined security account for the application pool or to use a configurable account, or click the Register new managed account if wanted.

Click Create to create the new service application.

The next step in the process is to create a new custom web application by following these steps:

Return to the home screen of Central Administration. Under the Application Management section, click Manage Web Applications.

In the Web Applications Ribbon, click New. When the New Web Application dialog opens, leave Classic Mode Authentication selected, and enter an IIS Web Site name and Port Number, such as PerformancePoint1, and enter 25000 in the field under Port.

In the Security Configuration section, leave NTLM selected, and No for Allow Anonymous, and No for Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), unless your test environment is configured differently. For example, Kerberos is often used for business intelligence configurations because it enables impersonation to take place, and SSL is often implemented to ensure that all data is encrypted.

In the Public URL section, leave the default (http://servername:portnumber) unless a different Public URL is wanted, or if SSL is used.

In the Application Pool section, select Create New Application Pool if not already selected, and create an application pool that matches the web application name (for example, PerformancePoint1 – 25000) and select a security account or register a new managed account.

Validate the database server and database name to meet your requirements. A best practice is to make the database name simpler, readily identifiable, and still include the term Content. So instead of the randomly generated name, something such as PerformancePoint1_Content could be used.

Enter a failover server if there is a failover database server in the farm.

In the Service Application Connections section, ensure that the correct service application is selected by choosing [custom] from the drop-down list, and then selecting the service application just created (in this example, PerformancePointServiceApp1), as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Service Application Connection window.

Review your settings to make sure they meet your requirements, and click OK.

The next step is to create a new site collection using the Business Intelligence Center site template. To do so, complete the following steps:

On the SharePoint 2010 server, select Start and SharePoint 2010 Central Administration.

Under the Application Management section, click Create Site Collections.

In the upper-right corner of the Create Site Collection page, verify that the Web Application setting is the same name and port number that you used. If not, click the down arrow in the Web Application box, and select Change Web Application. Then change the web application to the one created earlier.

In the Title box of the Create Site Collection page, type PPS Sample Site.

In the URL section, select the /sites/ option in the drop-down box, and type PPSSample in the text box.

Enter one or two login accounts to serve as the site collection administrator(s).

In the Template Selection section, click the Enterprise tab, and choose the Business Intelligence Center site template.

When this site is created, you can begin building a PerformancePoint Services dashboard.

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