Query Logging in Analysis Services

On a project I work on, we capture the queries that get executed on our Analysis Services instance (SQL Server 2008 R2) and use the table for helping us to build aggregations and also we aggregate the query log daily into a data warehouse of operational data so we can track usage of our Analysis databases by users over time.

We've learned a couple of helpful things about this logging that I'd like to share here.

First off, the query log table automatically gets cleaned out by SSAS under a few conditions - schema changes to the analysis database and even regular data and aggregation processing can delete rows in the table. We like to keep these logs longer than that, so we have a trigger on the table that copies all rows into another table with the same structure:

Here is our trigger code:

CREATE TRIGGER [dbo].[SaveQueryLog] on [dbo].[OlapQueryLog] AFTER INSERT AS

      INSERT INTO dbo.[OlapQueryLog_History] (MSOLAP_Database, MSOLAP_ObjectPath, MSOLAP_User, Dataset, StartTime, Duration)

      SELECT MSOLAP_Database, MSOLAP_ObjectPath, MSOLAP_User, Dataset, StartTime, Duration FROM inserted

Second, the query logging process is "best effort" - if SSAS cannot connect to the database listed in the QueryLogConnectionString in the Analysis Server properties, it just stops logging - it doesn't generate any errors to the client at all, which is a good thing. Once it stops logging, it doesn't retry later - an hour, a day, a week, or even a month later, so long as the service doesn't restart.That has burned us a couple of times, when we have made changes to the service account that is used for SSAS, and that account doesn't have access to the database we want to log to.

The last time this happened, we noticed a while later that no logging was taking place, and I determined that the service account didn't have sufficient permissions, so I made the necessary changes to give that service account access to the logging database. I first tried just the db_datawriter role and that wasn't enough, so I granted the service account membership in the db_owner role. Yes, that's a much bigger set of permissions, but I didn't want to search out the specific permissions at the time.

Once I determined that the service account had the appropriate permissions, I wanted to get query logging restarted from SSAS, and I wondered how to do that? Having just used a larger hammer than necessary with the db_owner role membership, I considered just restarting SSAS to get it logging again. However, this was a production server, and it was in the middle of business hours, and there were active users connecting to that SSAS instance, so I thought better of it.

As I considered the options, I remembered that the first time I set up query logging, by putting in a valid connection string to the QueryLogConnectionString server property, logging started immediately after I saved the properties. I wondered if I could make some other change to the connection string so that the query logging would start again without restarting the service. I went into the connection string dialog, went to the All page, and looked at the properties I could change that wouldn't affect the actual connection. Aha! The Application Name property would do just nicely - I set it to "SSAS Query Logging" (it was previously blank) and saved the changes to the server properties. And the query logging started up right away. If I need to get this running again in the future, I could just make a small change in the Application Name property again, save it, and even change it back again if I wanted to.

The other nice side effect of setting the Application Name property is that now I can see (and possibly filter for or filter out) the SQL activity in that database that is related to the query logging process in Profiler:


 To sum up:

  • The SSAS Query Logging process will automatically delete rows from the QueryLog table, so if you want to keep them longer, put a trigger on the table to copy the rows to another table
  • The SSAS service account requires more than db_datawriter role membership (and probably less than db_owner) in the database specified in the QueryLogConnectionString server property to successfully insert log rows to the QueryLog  table.
  • Query logging will stop quietly whenever it encounters an error. Make a change to the QueryLogConnectionString server property (such as the Application Name attribute) to get query logging to restart and you won't have to restart the service.

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