Intro from Rob
At a conference three years ago, I saw my former colleagues at Microsoft announce something very significant: Power Pivot was getting a bigger brother. Power Pivot’s formula language (DAX) and the overall “tables/relationships/calc columns/measures” modeling experience was going to be “ported” into Microsoft’s flagship, industrial-strength BI platform – SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS).
At the time, that led me to post the following diagram:
Power Pivot Broke the First Wall – and We’re Still Getting Accustomed to Our New Powers.
But Power Pivot’s Bigger Brother (SSAS Tabular) Breaks a Future Wall Too.
Years have passed and that has already become the new normal. Microsoft rolled out Power View and had it only work against Power Pivot / Tabular (and not against traditional SSAS) – a decision they later had to dilute, but still a clear signal of their future intent. BI luminaries like Chris Webb and the Italians wrote a book on Tabular. As revolutions go, this one was quite non-eventful.
Not that Excel Pros MUST move upstream and start using SSAS. Quite the contrary – I still personally have not! But it is VERY good to know that it’s there, for several reasons:
- Microsoft is betting heavily on “the Power Pivot way.” You don’t “infect” your flagship product with something new unless that new thing is awesome. Power Pivot – that thing running on your desktop – is good enough for the heavyweight BI pros. Digest that thought.
- There’s an “upgrade path” for important Power Pivot models. This is a great selling point for IT if they are nervous about Power Pivot. Unlike regular Excel workbooks, a Power Pivot workbook that becomes business critical CAN be “taken over” by IT, and made into something centralized and blessed, without having to rewrite it.
- There’s an “upgrade path” for Excel Pros. With very little effort, an established Power Pivot pro can “change hats” and label herself a Business Intelligence Pro, a Tabular Modeler – even if she were “just” an Excel Pro a couple years ago. Again, not that she has to, because Power Pivot itself offers practically limitless power. She just can. Exciting huh?
Avichal Singh is one such Excel Pro who has been making that transition. He’s been so kind as to write up his experiences so far, and MAKE US A VIDEO SHOWING US WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE! (Holy cow I had not realized there was a video in this post until just this moment. I am Jack’s Awestruck Amazement.)
Take it Away, Avichal…
By Avichal Singh www.linkedin.com/in/avichalsingh
This is a follow up to my original post – My Power Pivot Journey. In this post I would like to detail the migration to Analysis Services and its implications we experienced. For general comparison of Analysis Services versus PowerPivot read Comparing Analysis Services and PowerPivot (look for table under Analysis Services Offerings). Our main reason for switching to Analysis Services was scalability. We were reaching 100MB with Excel+PowerPivot and after migration to SSAS Tabular our database has grown to 700+MB with 25+ Million rows overall.
My (Non) Background as Developer
If you are like me, you might have opened up Visual Studio in the past in a misguided attempt to develop something or opened up someone else’s project and felt somewhat lost. Do not let that fear stop you.
Developing SSAS Tabular Model in Visual Studio is not that much different than doing it in Excel PowerPivot. Authoring your model will feel surprisingly similar, but you will find more changes around deploying and using your model.
In the video below and the rest of the article I will show you, exactly – how to migrate, what changes to expect and how to use the new interface.
PowerPivot to SSAS Tabular: Migration and other tips
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