Today at the Data Amp event, we are announcing the general availability of Microsoft Azure Analysis Services, the latest addition to our data platform in the cloud. Based on the proven analytics engine in SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services is an enterprise grade OLAP engine and BI modeling platform, offered as a fully managed platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Azure Analysis Services enables developers and BI professionals to create BI Semantic Models that can power highly interactive and rich analytical experiences in BI tools and custom applications.
Why Azure 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 - 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.
Integrated with the Azure data platform
Azure Analysis Services is the latest addition to the Azure data platform. It integrates with many Azure data services enabling customers to build sophisticated analytics solutions.
- Azure Analysis Services can consume data from Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Customers can build enterprise data warehouse solutions in Azure using a hub-and-spoke model, with the SQL data warehouse at the center and multiple BI models around it targeting different business groups or subject areas.
- With more and more customers adopting Azure Data Lake and HDInsight, Azure Analysis Services will soon offer the ability to build BI models on top of these big data platforms, enabling a similar hub-and-spoke model as with Azure SQL Data Warehouse.
- In addition to the above, Azure Analysis Services can also consume data from on-premises data stores such as SQL Server, Oracle, and Teradata. We are working on adding support for several more data sources, both cloud and on-premises.
- Azure Data Factory is a data integration service that orchestrates the movement and transformation of data, a core capability in any enterprise BI/analytics solution. Azure Analysis Services can be integrated into any Azure Data Factory pipeline by including an activity that loads data into the model. Azure Automation and Azure Functions can also be used for doing lightweight orchestration of models using custom code.
- Power BI and Excel are industry leading data exploration and visualization tools for business users. Both can connect to Azure Analysis Services models and offer a rich interactive experience. In addition, third party BI tools such as Tableau are also supported.
How are customers using Azure Analysis Services?
Since we launched the public preview of Azure Analysis Services last October, thousands of developers have been using it to build BI solutions. We want to thank all our preview customers for trying out the product and giving us valuable feedback. Based on this feedback, we have made several quality, reliability, and performance improvements to the service. In addition, we introduced Scale Up & Down and Backup & Restore to allow customers to better manage their BI solutions. We also introduced the B1, B2, and S0 tiers to offer customers more pricing flexibility.
Following are some customers and partners that have built compelling BI solutions using Azure Analysis Services.
Milliman is one of the world's largest providers of actuarial and related products and services. They built a revolutionary, industry first, financial modeling product called Integrate, using Azure to run highly complex and mission critical computing tasks in the cloud.
“Once the complex data movement and transformation processing is complete, the resulting data is used to populate a BI semantic model within Azure Analysis Services, that is easy to use and understand. Power BI allows users to quickly create and share data through interactive dashboards and reports, providing a rich immersive experience for users to visualize and analyze data in one place, simply and intuitively. The combination of Power BI and Azure Analysis Services enables users of varying skills and backgrounds to be able to deliver to the ever-growing BI demands needed to run their business and collaborate on mission critical information on any device.”
Paul Maher, Principal and CTO, Milliman Life Technology Solutions
“Another great use case for Azure Analysis Services is leveraging its powerful modeling capabilities to bring together numerous disparate corporate data sources. An initiative at Milliman is currently in design leveraging various Finance data sets in order to create a broader scope and more granular access to critical business information. Providing a cohesive and simple-to-access data source for all levels of users gives the business leaders a new tool – whether they use Excel or Power BI for their business analytics.”
Andreas Braendle, CIO, Milliman
- Contidis is a company in Angola that is building the new Candando supermarket chain. They created a comprehensive BI solution using Power BI and Azure Analysis Services to help their employees deliver better customer service, uncover fraud, spot inventory errors, and analyze the effectiveness of store promotions.
“Since we implemented our Power BI solution with Azure Analysis Services and Azure SQL Data Warehouse, we’ve realized a big improvement in business insight and efficiency. Our continued growth is due to many factors, and Power BI with Azure Analysis Services is one of them.”
Renato Correia, Head of IT and Innovation, Contidis
- DevScope is a Microsoft worldwide partner who is helping customers build solutions using Azure Analysis Services.
“One of the great advantages of using Azure Analysis Services and Power BI is that it gives us the flexibility to start small and scale up only as fast as we need to, paying only for the services we use. We also have a very dynamic security model with Azure Analysis Services and Azure Active Directory and in addition to providing row-level security, we use Analysis Services to monitor report usage and send automated alerts if someone accesses a report or data record that they shouldn’t."
Rui Romano, BI Team Manager, DevScope
Azure Analysis Services is now generally available in 14 regions across the globe: Southeast Asia, Australia Southeast, Brazil South, Canada Central, North Europe, West Europe, West India, Japan East, UK South, East US 2, North Central US, South Central US, West US, and West Central US. We will continue to add regions based on customer demand, including government and national clouds.
Please use the following resources to learn more about Azure Analysis Services, get your questions answered, and give us feedback and suggestions about the product.