Recently I came across a problem with an Analysis Services data connection when I was trying to create a status indicator in SharePoint 2010 (formerly known as a key performance indicator in SharePoint 2007). I had successfully created the data connection in Excel, verified that I could create a PivotTable with it, and then saved the connection to Excel Services as an Office Data Connection (ODC) file. However, when I tried to use the ODC to create a status indicator, the following error displayed:

"A connection cannot be made. Ensure that the server is running."

Well, I knew that the server was running, because I had just created a PivotTable with the same ODC. Then I tried searching the Web, but couldn’t find anything useful (which prompted me to write this post!). In this scenario, I am running all servers on the same machine for demonstration purposes, so I knew it wasn’t a double-hop problem. I had read that enabling SQL Browser would help, or using the IP address rather than the server name could be solutions also, but neither of those recommendations helped.

I tried different connections that I had created over time and several had the same problem – connection cannot be made. After fussing around with different options, I finally went back to study my connection strings and saw my problem:

Provider=MSOLAP.4;Integrated Security=SSPI;Persist Security Info=True;Initial Catalog=Adventure Works DW 2008R2;Data Source=.;Location=.;MDX Compatibility=1;Safety Options=2;MDX Missing Member Mode=Error

When I removed Location=.; from the string, and exported the new connection to SharePoint, the connection worked just fine! In further testing, I found that I put the server name, rather than the . placeholder to represent localhost, the connection also worked.

Now the mystery is how I got that property into the connection string in the first place. I can’t reproduce it by using the Data Connection Wizard in Excel, but that’s generally the only way I produce an ODC file. Regardless of how it came to be in my connection string, I now know that the Location property is not required for the ODC file to work, or must reference the actual server name if it is included.