Microsoft launches Azure Analysis Services public preview to simplify data analysis

CIOReview Team | Friday, 20 January 2017, 06:28 IST

Microsoft recently announced the public preview of  Azure Analysis Services, the latest addition to Microsoft’s cloud platform at the Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS) Summit,.

Azure Analysis Services is an enterprise grade OLAP (online analytical processing) engine and BI (Business Intelligence) modeling platform, offered as a fully managed platform-as-a-service (PaaS). With Azure Analysis Services, a BI professional will be able to explore data and gain insights from it by just connecting to the semantic model and will be able to share it with the business user. Businesses can get on board quickly without managing infrastructure and can also scale resources to match their business needs.

So why is this significant? It is because the success of any modern data-driven organization requires that information is available at the fingertips of every business user (not just IT professionals and data scientists) to guide their day-to-day decisions. Self-service BI tools have made huge strides in making data accessible to business users. However, most business users don’t have the expertise or desire to do the heavy lifting that is typically required. Such as, to find the right sources of data, consume the raw data and transform it into the right shape, add business logic and metrics, and finally explore the data to derive insights. With Azure Analysis Services, a BI professional can create a semantic model over the raw data and share it with business users so that all they need to do is connect to the model and immediately explore the data and gain insights. Azure Analysis Services uses a highly optimized in-memory engine to provide responses to user queries at the "speed of thought".

A demonstration of how quick this can be can be seen in the video ( jump to 11:06 ) where a business user can zero down to an individual cab in real-time (from actual data on 2 billion cabs) to understand how it can maximize trips, optimize routes and minimize tolls.

Azure Analysis Services are compatible with any major BI tool. The supported Microsoft tools include Power BI, Excel, and SQL Server Reporting Services. Other MDX compliant BI tools can also be used, after downloading and installing the latest drivers.