Why use Excel….
In January 2006 I ordered SQL 2005 and set off on my first real â€œbusiness intelligence/ data warehouseâ€ project. One customer, that I have a good relationship with, wanted to understand their sales data better and was willing to contribute to development costs as long as I came up with something fast. I promised I would have a system by April and ploughed in. February and March were tough months and I worked most weekends and often 14 to 16 hour days to get there but we went live in April.
Well I guess the big question is why Excel and then why SQL Server 2005 ?
The simple answer is, that is what I knew. I have used Excel for many years and had recently learnt VBA at the back end of 2005. Looking at the data of the company I realised I need to handle between 5 and 10 million sales transactions and, after reading around, SQL 2005 seem to fit. It looked like it would be the most compatible with Excel at the front end and give me plenty of scope for further development.
It is few months on now so, would I still use Excel ? I will let you decide but here are some of the pros and cons from my point of view
Speed of implementation â€“ you can link a few pivot tables and charts to an AS cube in minutes
Experience â€“ you do not need a programmer to write a spreadsheet
All Microsoft â€“ Excel links directly with SQL2005
Direction – Excel 2007 will be even better and more integrated with SQL 2005. MS is putting their money behind Excel as a BI tool
Excelâ€™s pivot tables still appear the most flexible way to display data
Security â€“ Excel is very weak but you do not need to store any data in the Excel â€œclientâ€. Using Windows
Authentification – SQL 2005 takes over the security side.
Image â€“ many think Excel is not up to the job.
Direction – I am not sure if ASP.NET would be a better platform
It is still a client even though it is on every desk. I would prefer a browser but find it difficult to beat the Excel Pivot Table.
What do you think ?