Azure Analysis Services

Azure Analysis Services combines enterprise-grade business intelligence semantic modeling with the cloud's scalability, flexibility, and management. Azure Analysis Services can aid in the transformation of complex data into actionable information. This blog will provide you with detailed information about Azure Analysis Services.

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Introduction to Microsoft Azure

Microsoft's Azure Analysis Services offers enterprise-grade modeling of data in the cloud. 

The Azure Analysis is basically a PaaS (Platform as a Service), which is fully managed and unified with the platform services of Azure data.  

Users, with Azure Analysis Services, can easily combine and mashup data from varied sources, specify metrics, and at the same time secure the data in a single, semantic data structure. 

This data model presents a faster and easier way for users to navigate through a huge amount of data by using applications like Reporting Services, Excel, Power BI, third-party, as well as custom apps.

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Developed in SQL Server Analysis Services

Microsoft's Azure Analysis Services integrate excellent features that are already in the Enterprise Edition of SQL Server Analysis Services. 

Azure Analysis Services, fully compatible with SQL Server Analysis Services features, provides great support for tabular models along with bi-directional associations, row-level security, partitions, and translations at 1400 and 1200 compatibility levels.

DirectQuery and In-memory modes facilitate accelerated processing of queries over complex and massive datasets. The tabular models tender the opportunity for highly-customizable, rapid developments. 

The tabular models incorporate TOM (Tabular Object Model) to define model objects. It can be exposed in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) through AMO data definition language and TMSL (Tabular Model Scripting Language) of Microsoft. 

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Better Always, with Azure

The Azure Analysis Services seamlessly blends with various Microsoft Azure services, which enables users to develop critical analytics solutions. 

Smooth consolidation with Azure AD (Azure Active Directory) offers a secure platform that allows users to define role-based access for critical data. 

Users can, in addition, integrate the Azure Analysis Services with Azure Data Factory, a cloud service, through incorporating an activity that loads the data. 

Azure Functions and Azure Automation can be also deployed in Azure Analysis Services for an ultra-light arrangement of models utilizing custom codes.

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Get Running in Minutes

Users, in the Azure portal, can quickly develop a server, typically in a few minutes. 

Furthermore, users can provision the servers by applying a declaratory template with PowerShell and Azure Resource Manager templates.

By using one single template, many services can be simultaneously deployed along with numerous Microsoft Azure features, for instance, Azure Functions and storage accounts.

Once the server is created, users can generate a tabular model within the Azure portal. Additionally, importing the Power BI Desktop .pbix file, or establishing a connection to Azure SQL Data Warehouse or an Azure SQL Database, can be easily accomplished with the web designer component.

Links between the tables are automatically created, and users can modify the model.bim file, or create measures as well in the JavaScript Object Notation configuration from the browser itself. 

Flexible Scaling Options to Meet Specific Needs

Azure Analysis Services has been made available by Microsoft in Standard, Basic, and Developer tiers. The plan costs of each tier vary in accordance with memory size, QPU, and processing power.

When a server is created, users can select their preferred plan within the tier with the flexibility of changing the plan down or up.  Upgradation from lower tier to higher tier is permitted, but downgrading to lower-tier from higher tier isn't allowed. 

Users can scale down, scale-up, or even pause the server. Total control can be achieved using the Azure portal or the PowerShell. 

The pricing is based on a pay-as-you-go model, so users pay for only what they use. The right mix of tiers and plans can be determined using the pricing calculator, or by visiting Azure Analysis Services Pricing on Microsoft website.

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Migrating from Current Tabular Models 

In case a user already has an on-premises Server Analysis Services model (SQL), then they can effortlessly migrate to Microsoft Azure Analysis Services with no significant modifications. 

To migrate, users will have to deploy the SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) to implement the desired model to their server. Or else, the Tabular Model Scripting Language (TMSL) can be used in the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to register the changes.

If there are role members and roles already defined and configured, the roles automatically migrate, but the role members have to be re-added by using the PowerShell or SSMS.

Connecting to Data Sources

Azure Analysis Services provides support to connect on-premises, as well as cloud data sources. Users can mix both cloud and on-premises data sources to create a hybrid model. 

The new 1400 tabular models apply the latest Get Data format of SQL Server Data Tools, based on M formula query language. 

Users, by using Get Data, can boost their ability to develop and edit complex M formula language queries with more mashup and data transformation features.

Data Security

Azure Analysis Services provides comprehensive data protection and security utilizing Microsoft's Azure Blob storage.

Data files stored within Azure Blob are totally encrypted with SSE (Azure Blob Server Side Encryption).

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Azure Blob stores only metadata in the Direct Query mode. The actual stored data can be accessed from data sources during query time.


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Last updated: 03 Apr 2023
About Author

Anji Velagana is working as a Digital Marketing Analyst and Content Contributor for Mindmajix. He writes about various platforms like Servicenow, Business analysis,  Performance testing, Mulesoft, Oracle Exadata, Azure, and few other courses. Contact him via and LinkedIn.

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