In April we announced the general availability of Azure Analysis Services, which evolved from the proven analytics engine in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services. 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, including finding the right sources of data, importing the raw data, transforming it into the right shape, and adding business logic and metrics, before they can 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 from any BI tool 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.
Last December we wrote a post on creating your first model with Azure Analysis Services. Now you can try Azure Analysis Services without the need to build anything with our new sample model based on the Adventure Works Internet Sales database. It is designed to show a range of Analysis Services modeling features.
Ready to give it a try? Follow the steps in the rest of this blog post and you’ll see how easy it is.
Before getting started, you’ll need:
Azure Subscription - Sign up for a free trial.
Create an Analysis Services server in Azure
1. Go to https://portal.azure.com.
2. In the Menu blade, click New.
3. Expand Data + Analytics, and then click Analysis Services.
4. In the Analysis Services blade, enter the following and then click Create:
- Server name: Type a unique name.
- Subscription: Select your subscription.
- Resource group: Select Create new, and then type a name for your new resource group.
- Location: This is the Azure datacenter location that hosts the server. Choose a location nearest you.
- Pricing tier: For our simple model, select D1. This is the smallest tier and great for getting started. The larger tiers are differentiated by how much cache and query processing units they have. Cache indicates how much data can be loaded into the cache after it has been compressed. Query processing units, or QPUs, are a sign of how many queries can be supported concurrently. Higher QPUs may mean better performance and allow for a higher concurrency of users.
Now that you’ve created a server, you can add the sample to it.
Adding the sample model to your server
1. On the overview blade of your server, click + New Model on the top left.
2. Under choose data source select Sample data and click add.
It will take a few moments for the model to be created. When it is finished you will see in in the list of models on your server:
The model can now be queried in Microsoft Excel, Power BI Desktop, or edited in Visual Studio by clicking on the three dots next to the model name and selecting the tool that you wish to use.
Note: if you need to download any of these tools, click on the links below:
SQL Server Data Tools/Visual Studio - Download the latest version for free.
Power BI Desktop - Download the latest version for free.
Then you can start visualizing the data.
Learn more about Azure Analysis Services.