Azure Analysis Services

First Thoughts On Azure Analysis Services

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 unsurprisingly, support for SSAS Multidimensional is #1

16 thoughts on “First Thoughts On Azure Analysis Services

  1. Seems fairly pricey @ USD 3500 / mth for fastest option including a preview 50% discount. Will be very interesting to see some benchmarks, I would expect something special at this price. I realize the scale up/down thing, but still …

    Would also love to see support for power query / M in SSAS to allow migration of models. Any rumors about this? 🙂

    1. Chris Webb – My name is Chris Webb, and I work on the Fabric CAT team at Microsoft. I blog about Power BI, Power Query, SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services and Excel.
      Chris Webb says:

      Yes, definitely. I hope we’ll see some changes and improvements to the pricing options during the preview period.

  2. Great news, but very expensive. Especially as you’ll probably have to continue licencing Enterprise Edn to run on an Azure VM, to take advantage of SSIS and SSRS.
    And Multi-Dimensional is a must have. I’d bet that out there in the real world, there are 100 production MD instances for every 1 production TAB instance.

  3. Great points. They are all on our radar!

    In fact they are among the highest voted items on the new AS uservoice (MD, new pricing options, PQ integration). Feel free to vote them up.

    Specifically on the pricing … yes we have started with some relatively high-end tiers (or relatively very low-level developer one), and are reviewing how best to “widen the funnel”. This may seem expensive for someone migrating a single model from PBI for example. However, if compare to a VM with equivalent hardware/cores/memory with a dedicated SSAS Enterprise Edition installation (which we are targeting parity with by GA), then Azure AS is about the same price, or marginally cheaper. Couple reduced cost of ownership due to manageability benefits, speed of provisioning, without having to configure for hardware optimization (or requiring knowledge of how do it), automated scale up/down/pause … then I hope you can see the potential here!

    Again – valid points, noted.

  4. Totally agree with the need for MD… but would be interesting to look at the following numbers:

    1. cloud-solutions: migrations vs green-field
    2. green-field: MD vs TAB

    …for item 1) i have no idea… as for 2) i suspect TAB is close to overtaking MD…

  5. thanks Chris for the update. Wanting to dive into Azure but I’ve only done MD up to this point and it looks like there still is no update on MD for Azure Analysis Services. 🙁

    1. Chris Webb – My name is Chris Webb, and I work on the Fabric CAT team at Microsoft. I blog about Power BI, Power Query, SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services and Excel.
      Chris Webb says:

      Whether MD for Azure does happen (and there are plenty of signs that it will), I strongly recommend that you learn Tabular/Power BI anyway because this is the main area for investment by Microsoft.

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