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Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services: The BISM Tabular Model


When we, the authors of this book, first learned what Microsoft’s plans were for Analysis Services in the SQL Server 2012 release, we were not happy. Analysis Services hadn’t acquired much in the way of new features since 2005, even though in the meantime it had grown to become the biggest-selling OLAP tool. It seemed as if Microsoft had lost interest in the product. The release of PowerPivot and all the hype surrounding self-service Business Intelligence (BI) suggested that Microsoft was no longer interested in traditional corporate BI, or even that Microsoft thought professional BI developers were irrelevant in a world where end users could build their own BI applications directly in Excel. Then, when Microsoft announced that the technology underpinning PowerPivot was to be rolled into Analysis Services, it seemed as if all our worst fears had come true: the richness of the multidimensional model was being abandoned in favor of a dumbed- down, table-based approach; a mature product was being replaced with a version 1.0 that was missing a lot of useful functionality. Fortunately, we were proven wrong and as we started using the first CTPs of the new release, a much more positive— if complex—picture emerged.

SQL Server 2012 is undoubtedly a milestone release for Analysis Services. Despite all the rumors to the contrary, we can say emphatically that Analysis Services is neither dead nor dying; instead, it’s metamorphosing into something new and even more powerful. As this change takes place, Analysis Services will be a two-headed beast—almost two separate products (albeit ones that share a lot of the same code). The Analysis Services of cubes and dimensions familiar to many people from previous releases will become known as the “Multidimensional Model,” while the new, PowerPivot-like flavor of Analysis Services will be known as the “Tabular Model.” These two models have different strengths and weaknesses and are appropriate for different projects. The Tabular Model (which, from here onward, we’ll refer to as simply Tabular) does not replace the Multidimensional Model. Tabular is not “better” or “worse” than Multidimensional. Instead, the Tabular and Multidimensional models complement each other well. Despite our deep and long-standing attachment to Multidimensional, Tabular has impressed us because not only is it blindingly fast, but because its simplicity will bring BI to a whole new audience.

Build agile and responsive Business Intelligence solutions

Analyze tabular data using the BI Semantic Model (BISM) in Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 Analysis Services—and discover a simpler method for creating corporate-level BI solutions. Led by three BI experts, you’ll learn how to build, deploy, and query a BISM tabular model with step-by-step guides, examples, and best practices. This hands-on book shows you how the tabular model’s in-memory database enables you to perform rapid analytics—whether you’re a professional BI developer new to Analysis Services or familiar with its multidimensional model.

Discover how to:

  • Determine when a tabular or multidimensional model is right for your project
  • Build a tabular model using SQL Server Data Tools in Microsoft Visual Studio® 2010
  • Integrate data from multiple sources into a single, coherent view of company information
  • Use the Data Analysis eXpressions (DAX) language to create calculated columns, measures, and queries
  • Choose a data modeling technique that meets your organization’s performance and usability requirements
  • Optimize your data model for better performance with xVelocity storage engine
  • Manage complex data relationships, such as multicolumn, banding, and many-to-many
  • Implement security by establishing administrative and data user roles


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