Project REAL is an effort to discover best practices for creating business intelligence (BI) applications that are based on Microsoft® SQL Server™ 2005. In Project REAL we are doing this by creating reference implementations based on actual customer scenarios. This means that customer data is brought in-house and is used to work through the same issues that customers face during deployment. These issues include:
Design of schemas — both relational schemas and those used in Analysis Services.
Implementation of data extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) processes.
Design and deployment of client front-end systems, both for reporting and for interactive analysis.
Sizing of systems for production.
Management and maintenance of the systems on an ongoing basis, including incremental updates to the data.
By working with real deployment scenarios, we gain a complete understanding of how to implement a BI system using SQL Server BI tools. Our goal is to attempt to address the full gamut of concerns that a company wishing to analyze potentially large data sets would face during their own real-world deployment.
In Project REAL we are creating a reference implementation of a business intelligence (BI) system using real large-scale data from a real customer. The goal is to discover the best practices for creating BI systems with SQL Server 2005 and to build a system that exhibits as many of those best practices as we can. This project is not just a demo —we are creating this system for ongoing operation. It is a complete system, including daily incremental updates of the data, large multiuser workloads, and system monitoring. This paper introduces the Project REAL system, its data models, subsystems and deployment scenarios. It is the first in a series of papers which will give more details about various aspects of Project REAL and the best practices that have been uncovered during this exercise.
Project REAL is a cooperative endeavor between Microsoft and a number of its partners in the BI area. These partners include (in alphabetical order): Apollo Data Technologies, EMC, Intellinet, Panorama, Proclarity, Scalability Experts, and Unisys. The business scenario for Project REAL and the source data set were graciously provided by Barnes & Noble.