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PerformancePoint 2007: Installing Planning Server

Building more intelligent dashboards for businesses is a great idea; however, getting the software installed can be a showstopper. Find out how to install Planning Server, one of several installations required to get PerformancePoint working.

s clients ask for more complex dashboards that integrate data from their accounting systems, you'll find that Performance Point Server (PPS) can help you answer the call. It's quite hard to find useful information on "what" PerformancePoint is, and what it allows you to do, so this series of articles attempts to remedy that by documenting the installation process, and detailing what you really need to get some meaningful results—an actual dashboard that can impress in a demo. By following along here, and making sure that you have the prerequisites taken care of, you should be able to get a dashboard up and running—in a lab environment—in a handful of hours.

As these articles will show, the configuration process is complex and somewhat daunting if you try to get a sense of the process by reading the Microsoft documentation. As a point of reference and an actual anecdote, a Microsoft employee, who will remain anonymous, declared to me that the PerformancePoint configuration process was the most complex he'd seen from a Microsoft product.

From a high level, the PerformancePoint suite includes the following main components:

  • Planning Server
  • Monitoring Server
  • Analytics Server (ProClarity Analytics Server)
Figure 1 shows the Microsoft Business Intelligence stacks and where PerformancePoint Server 2007 is located in the stack.

Figure 1. Microsoft BI Stack: SQL Server serves as the foundation, upon which SharePoint Server 2007 builds, and then PerformancePoint "adds the icing to the cake." (Courtesy: Microsoft).

Each installation procedure is complex, so this article series covers the installations in separate articles, starting with the Planning Server.

Author's Note: Here's a timesaving tip: Before moving forward, make sure you have the "Cumulative Update Package 3 for SQL Server 2005 SP 2." That will probably require you to submit a ticket to Microsoft, and they may take a couple of days to respond!

Planning Server Overview
Microsoft's TechNet site provides a good overview of Planning Server. Cutting through some of the extra marketing content, here's a brief overview.

From a high level, PPS competes with products such as Hyperion (recently purchased by Oracle) and Cognos (now acquired by IBM) but at a much lower price point. Planning Server is just one of the components of PerformancePoint; it provides an enterprise-class application for supporting management processes—specifically, processes that relate to business planning and management reporting. Essentially, an organization would use Planning Server to create "what if" scenarios running against OLAP cubes of data created from SQL Server 2005.

Planning Server is built on Microsoft SQL Server 2005-based databases and SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services. It uses Excel for line-of-business reporting and analysis. It also supports the management and financial Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAA) consolidation process with multiple currency conversions, inter-company eliminations and reconciliations, and multi-tier allocations. It lets business users publish live reports from Excel to SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, or Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. Power users can build, customize, and share production-quality reports from Excel while connected to a centrally-managed server.

Planning Server Installation Steps
TechNet has several guides available for planning, architecture, and deployment. The first step was to download the PerformancePoint ISO file (en_office_performancepoint_server_2007_x86_cd_X14-00932.iso) from MSDN. The file is around 95.5 MB.

Next, I took snapshots of my MOSS 2007 server and the SQL 2005 Server—just in case. Having solid server images so I can roll back if things don't go well has saved my bacon a number of times, as well as many hours of pointless work rebuilding servers.

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