SharePoint 2010 : PerformancePoint Services (part 1) - PerformancePoint Central Administration Settings

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There used to be a product called Microsoft Office business scorecard manager. It had some compelling monitoring and analytic capabilities. As a successor to that product, Microsoft released a product called Microsoft Office PerformancePoint server in November 2007.

PerformancePoint server 2007 included Monitoring and Analytics features, which include Dashboards, Scorecards, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Reports, Filters, and Strategy Maps are delivered via a Monitoring Server. They were primarily two client user interfaces to the monitoring server, namely the dashboard designer and various SharePoint webparts. The dashboard designer was a thick client application downloaded from the monitoring server, which allowed power users to do the following:

  • Create data source connections

  • Create views that use those data connections

  • Assemble the views in a dashboard

  • Deploy the dashboard to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 or Windows SharePoint Services

All of this information was stored to a SQL server 2005 database that was managed directly through the monitoring server. Note that I'm still talking about the PerformancePoint server available with SharePoint 2007.

Once a dashboard had been published to the monitoring system database, it could then be deployed to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 or Windows SharePoint Services. Therefore, in that sense PerformancePoint server was a product that worked in parallel with SharePoint. Yet another portion of the PerformancePoint server was the planning center operation. PerformancePoint planning server supported a variety of management processes which included the ability to define, modify, and maintain logical business models integrated with business rules workflows and enterprise data.

Finally, there was the management report which was a component designed for financial reporting.

That is all history! The product Microsoft Office PerformancePoint server was discontinued in April 2009. Before you feel sad or shed any tears for the loss, the product was instead reincarnated as PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint 2010. It is available as a part of non-free versions of SharePoint 2010. Plus it is envisioned to be quite disruptive to the marketplace that it is entering, because it is indeed a highly reengineered and well thought out product.

What is PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint 2010? PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint 2010 is that part of SharePoint that allows you to create rich context-driven dashboards that aggregate data and content to provide a complete view of how your business is performing at all levels. In other words, it is the easiest way to create and publish business intelligence dashboards in SharePoint 2010. At the heart of PerformancePoint services is the dashboard designer. The dashboard designer is a thick client that you can launch directly from the browser, and it allows you to create KPIs, scorecards, analytic charts and grids, reports, filters and dashboards.

Compared to PerformancePoint server 2007, they are many enhancements in PerformancePoint services 2010. Some of these enhancements include the following:

  • Enterprise level scalability: Built upon the new services infrastructure in SharePoint 2010, PerformancePoint Services has the ability to scale a lot more than PerformancePoint server 2007.

  • SharePoint repository: There is no longer a separate monitoring server database. All objects created are now stored in the content database. This has numerous advantages, centered around security, administration, backup and restore, and even the end user experience.

  • All PerformancePoint features are now SharePoint features: There is a business intelligence repository available as a site definition or you have the ability to create new sites based upon other site definitions and enable certain features to make use of PerformancePoint features in any site collection.

  • PerformancePoint filters can now be connected with standard SharePoint webparts, because they build upon the standard WSS WebPart connection framework.

  • Integration with SharePoint also makes it possible for PerformancePoint to work with every other SharePoint feature such a search, indexing, workflows Excel Services, Visio Services and so on so forth.

  • There are some significant improvements in the various SharePoint WebParts, chart types, and the dashboard designer.

With this theory, let's start with the process of administrating configuring and using PerformancePoint services in SharePoint 2010. Configuring PerformancePoint services is split into two halves: one that you would need to do in central administration and one that you would need to do in the site collections you intend to use PerformancePoint services.

1. PerformancePoint Central Administration Settings

If you used the farm wizard to configure your SharePoint installation, chances are PerformancePoint services ready to go for you. Let's look at the specific configuration necessary to use PerformancePoint services on any particular farm. Visit central administration for your farm. Under central administration click on manage service applications. PerformancePoint services is yet another shared services application within SharePoint. Look for PerformancePoint service application within central administration, if one isn't here choose to create one in central administration using the page at /_admin/ServiceApplications.aspx. If you click on properties for PerformancePoint service application, you should see a screen shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. PerformancePoint Service Application settings

The check box that you see next to the name of the PerformancePoint service application is telling SharePoint that all new web applications by default would use this particular instance of PerformancePoint service application. Therefore, for any web site to use a different instance you would have to explicitly go into the web site settings and allow a certain web site to use a different application instance. This is an important consideration from a planning and scalability point of view.

There is yet another very important service available on SharePoint called as the secure store service. The secure store service is the evolution of what used to be single sign-on in SharePoint 2007. Single sign on in SharePoint 2007, and the secure store service, provide a secure mechanism to store various credentials for various application IDs. Specifically, if the PerformancePoint Services application was not associated with a secure store service, you would not been be able to set an unattended service account for PerformancePoint services to connect to datasources with. As a result, the only mechanism you would be able to use to connect to data sources would be where the identity of the logged in user is used to connect to the backend data source. This means that Kerberos must be running properly on your network. For practical reasons though, you need to configure Kerberos on your network anyway, so this is not such a big deal.

One other thing I should mention here is that PerformancePoint services is claims aware. However, in today's world, a lot of backend datasources are not claims aware. As a result, even though the identity being passed within the PerformancePoint infrastructure is a claims based identity, the identity acquire to talk to backend datasources as of today usually is a Kerberos identity.

Next choose to manage the PerformancePoint Service application. You will then see a screen with four options as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Managing the PerformancePoint Service Application

Starting from the bottom, the "Import PerformancePoint server 2007 content", as the name suggests allows you to import content from previous versions of PerformancePoint to PerformancePoint services for SharePoint 2010.

Trusted content locations and trusted datasource locations work in a manner very similar to Excel services. By default all SharePoint locations are trusted. This is a setting similar to Excel Services.

The setting at the top "PerformancePoint service applications settings " is where all of the other settings go. At the very top of this page is a section for secure store and the unattended service account. In Central Administration, under Manage service applications, if you use the farm configuration wizard to set up your farm, you should see an instance of the secure store service already created for you. If it isn't created for you go ahead and create one.

Back in the PerformancePoint services application settings page, provide the name of the secure store service application name and provide an unattended service account. The unattended service account is what will be used to authenticate with backend data sources. Thus, you want to ensure that this account is not a highly privileged account and is different from your farm account or any application pool accounts. Not doing so may inadvertently give access to data sources that you didn't plan on giving access to. Also, before you're able to specify the unattended service account, you will first have to visit your secure store service application settings page and ensure that you generate a new key first. This generated key requires you to specify a password using which the database will be encrypted. Try not to lose this password.

The one final setting that you do not have to perform, but you should know about is that under manage web applications, select your port 80 web application and choose "Service Connections " from the ribbon. This should pop open a dialog box that lets you associate various service application instances with existing web applications. This can be seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Service application settings for a web application

2. PerformancePoint Site Collection Settings

Let me start with a bit of good news first! If you have installed SharePoint enterprise, you do not need to do anymore farm level or web application level configurations. The various webparts, web services, and the dashboard designer are already there for you. All you need to do now is to activate the appropriate features on the sites and site collections to start making use of PerformancePoint services.

Now I'm in the laziest guy you'll ever meet. I like to take the simplest possible way to get my work done. Right out of the box there is a site definition called the business intelligence center provided for you, which makes use of all the necessary features. All those features that make up that site definition can also be individually activated in other site collections so you can use PerformancePoint services anywhere you wish. This truly gives you immense flexibility, and even though I'm the laziest guy you'll ever meet, I will demonstrate the use and configuration of PerformancePoint services in a blank site collection. Start by creating a blank site collection at the root level in your port 80 web application.

Configuring your site collection is a matter of activating a few features. You need to activate the following site collection features in the following order:

  • SharePoint Server Enterprise Site Collection Features.

  • SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure.

  • PerformancePoint Services Site Collection Features.

  • Then, under the "Site Features" (not Site Collection), activate the "PerformancePoint Services Site Features" feature.

Note that SharePoint server publishing infrastructure is a prerequisite for PerformancePoint services site collection features. This is because the dashboard publishing uses the SharePoint server publishing infrastructure.

Once the above features are activated, also activate the "PerformancePoint services site features" at the site level.

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