In most businesses, there are many information consumers who need reports from business data, but relatively few IT professionals available to meet their requests.
There is often a backlog of requests that cannot be filled quickly enough to meet the business needs.
One way to reduce this backlog is to empower the end users so that they can create more of their own reports, leaving IT to the business of managing and developing mission critical applications.
Allowing end users access to business data gives them the ability to create reports quickly and make changes as often as needed.
Understanding the Data
Unfortunately, empowering end users is not as easy as just telling them how to get to the data and turning them loose with Excel spreadsheets.
Most people outside of the IT department are not trained to understand and interpret the complex data structures that store business data.
What Are SAS Information Maps?
SAS Information Maps consist of metadata that describe a data warehouse in business terms. This provides the ability to take a ubiquitous data warehouse and surface it to business users in context to the way they work.
Instead of seeing a multitude of tables and columns…
Physical Data View
What Are SAS Information Maps?
… the user gets a list of business terms that they can select. These items are surfaced with relevant labels that are customized for the business user.
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An information map contains metadata about
- the physical tables used in the information map
- how the tables relate to each other
- how to surface data items to end users
- business rules.
Because SAS Information Maps consist of metadata, they can contain all the information that allows the application to generate query code.
Metadata about the data sources
The data source can be SAS data sets, SAS®9 OLAP cubes, or a third party database such as Oracle, Teradata, DB2, or MS Excel. Information maps can access anything that SAS can read.
Metadata about data relationships
Multiple relational data tables can be combined or joined. This allows the application to optimize queries, regardless of the data source.
Metadata about the data items and their usage
The information map can store metadata that controls the display and usage of the data items. For example, you can decide that a certain data item should not be used in a sort or to compute statistics.
Metadata about business rules
Standard calculations and filters can be predefined, so business users do not need to re-create them every time they are needed.
Who Uses Information Maps?
Information maps are used by business users when they are asking questions of the data.
Because the warehouse is surfaced in terms they understand, business users can be more self-sufficient with ad hoc questions and reports.
Reporting applications such as SAS Web Report Studio, which is targeted at business users, surface information maps as data sources for queries and reports.
SAS Information Map Studio
SAS Information Map Studio provides the bridge between your data warehouse and the end user who builds reports from the data.
The SAS Metadata Server manages the metadata and provides security, while the SAS Web Report Studio product enables the user to create reports.
SAS Information Map Studio is a Java application used to create, edit, and manage SAS Information Maps.
The application runs on several Windows operating systems:
- Windows NT
- Windows 2000
- Windows XP.
Where Are Information Maps Used?
End users can access information maps through
- SAS Web Report Studio (create reports)
- SAS Information Delivery Portal (view only)
- SAS Solutions (SAS Marketing Automation)
- custom applications developed through SAS AppDev Studio.
Who Will Build Information Maps?
SAS Information Map Studio is targeted at data modelers or data architects who
- have experience in data modeling
- are familiar with SQL, MDX, or both
- know the physical data
- have a strong understanding of the business domain.
>>Most report writers are consumers of information maps for building reports. Typically, these users do not create information maps.
>>Data modelers or data architects are typically someone in an IT or MIS unit. This person works very closely with the business domain experts to understand the types of questions they need to ask as well as the business context in which they are asked.
Information Maps versus Database Views
Information maps are much more powerful than database views. In addition to surfacing physical database variables, they capture metadata about allowable usage and query generation rules.
- Information maps describe what can be done.
- Information maps hide the physical structure of the data from the business user. Query code is generated in the background, so the business user does not need to know SQL.
- Information maps support the ability to group data items logically into folders, providing a simpler way of locating items.
- Information maps contain business rules such as filters and calculated items. These rules are surfaced whenever the information map is accessed, providing consistent and accurate results.
- Information maps can be extended by SAS Stored Processes, integrating the power of SAS transformations and analytics with business reporting.
- Information maps interact with the common OMR security scheme, allowing for centralized security management through SAS applications.
OMR – Open Metadata Repository.
Interaction with SAS Application Servers
Information maps can use different types of application servers as shown below: