Hurray! At last we have proper cloud-based Analysis Services! The official blog post with the announcement is here:
…the pricing details are here:
…and the documentation is here:
It’s still in preview, so while there are some missing features I’m confident that they’ll be added soon. Similarly it’s SSAS Tabular only right now, but the blog post says
Support for multidimensional models will be considered for a future release, based on customer demand.
I’m pretty sure there there will be plenty of demand for Multidimensional support given the installed base that’s out there.
Why should we be excited about this, though? What will Azure Analysis Services be useful for? Obviously, if you want to build a completely cloud-based Microsoft BI solution then Azure SSAS is an important component to have available. Also, consider the fact that the load on a typical SSAS server varies a lot over time: daytime is usually much busier than night-time, weekdays are usually busier than weekends, and some days of the month (such as month ends) may be much busier than others. It will be great to be able to build cloud-based SSAS solutions that can be scaled-up and scaled-down to meet demand, rather than expensive on-premises SSAS solutions that are underutilised most of the time. I also think Azure SSAS will be very interesting to ISVs, and to Power BI users looking to move up from native Power BI storage, although in both cases pricing will be key to adoption. I can’t wait to start using this with my customers!
UPDATE 27/10/2016: You can see the top-rated requests on the Azure Analysis Services forum here https://feedback.azure.com/forums/556165 unsurprisingly, support for SSAS Multidimensional is #1