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A source system tracks student attendance for a school district by reporting absence events. Attendance on any particular day can be determined by examining three datasets: school calendar, student enrollment, and absence.

On any given school day, the number of enrolled students in attendance is usually much larger than the number that are absent, so this approach reduces the number of records stored to track attendance significantly.

I am trying to determine the proper way to represent daily attendance in a dimensional model. The most obvious way is to create a factless table with a grain per school day per student, and an attendance dimension that has values for both attendance and absence reasons. This is quite straightforward to work with OLAP, but the downside is the size of the fact table.

For example, for 30,000 students and 188 school days means that there are approximately 0.5 million records per year (if this doesn't seem large enough to be an issue, then consider an example in which attendance must be reported on per period rather than per day). Contrast this to a fact table that records only absences and the number is considerably smaller. However, if I do this, then I am not sure how to build cubes that aggregate daily attendance facts.

The specific OLAP technology being used is SQL Server Analysis Services 2008 R2. Any thoughts?

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This is a common design pattern for HR systems, so there's any amount of precedent for this type of approach.

You will find that the format used by SSAS stores this type of data quite efficiently, so data volumes won't be a significant problem. I've seen this done on a HR cube with a row count around 300 million on fairly old hardware using AS2000. 2008R2 on modern hardware shouldn't have a problem with it.

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