Azure Analysis Services now in Preview

October 30th, 2016 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

This past week Microsoft announced Azure Analysis Services at the PASS Summit. This is the evolution of SSAS on the SQL Server platform, with the ability to now move your tabular models into Azure and run those on an as needed basis. This means that you don’t need to administer your own SSAS instance, and can connect to cloud and on-premise data sources for your data analysis needs.

Since SQL Server has moved its codebase to primary development in Azure and a periodic release on-premise, this is a good sign that Analysis Services will continue to receive investment in the future. There are restrictions e.g. no multidimensional models so to test out SSAS in Azure, understand that limitation and that this is still in preview. Expect this platform to evolve and update at least quarterly, with new features and fewer restrictions over time. You can get started quickly.

As with other services in Azure, I both like and dislike some things. It’s great that the platform evolves and changes quickly, but I’d like to know which release of Azure Analysis Services I’m using. Not every evolution is helpful to all, and some will break systems, so knowing there has been a change or a new release can dramatically speed up troubleshooting. When the version of the Azure system changes, we know then to look at Azure release notes rather than our own code.

SSAS has still not become as popular than we might have expected 17 years ago, . SSAS is still alive and well, moving into the cloud and receiving development resources. . There are problem domains that are addressed well by SSAS and the ability to use the technology as an on-demand platform, without adding additional administrative and hardware resources is welcome.

A fundamental conceptual understanding of SSAS and MDX still escapes most people. Nowadays we have many e tools that can read data from SSAS instances and help users query data. That means we need fewer people and less time to design and to maintain SSAS instances, and also that we can easily create and destroy those as needed on Azure.

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