The public preview of Microsoft Azure Analysis Services has now been released. Azure Analysis Services is an enterprise grade OLAP engine and BI modeling platform, offered as a fully managed platform-as-a-service (PaaS).
One of the coolest feature of Microsoft Azure Analysis Services is Self-Service BI tools. For any BI project most of the heavy lifting is done by the BI SME and business users (power users) consumes the data in some form of dashboard since business users do not have expertise to do all the work required for data transformation. With Azure Analysis Services, as a BI SME you can create a semantic model over the raw data and share that with business users. This way business users can connect to model and start exploring the data.
Few things to note:
- The service currently supports tabular models (compatibility level 1200 only). Support for multidimensional models will be part of the future releases.
- Models can consume data from a variety of sources in Azure and on-premises. Access to on-premises sources is made available through the on-premises data gateway.
- The service is currently available in the South-Central US and West Europe regions. Check the Azure Products by Region page for the full list of currently available regions for Azure Analysis Services.
- Models can be cached in a highly optimized in-memory engine to provide fast responses to interactive BI tools. Models can also query the source directly using DirectQuery, which leverages the performance and scalability of the underlying database or big data engine.
You can get started with the Azure Analysis Services preview by provisioning a resource in the Azure Portal or using ARM templates in Visual Studio project.