SQL Server Analysis Services Finally Coming to the Cloud!

Microsoft has announced a new cloud service in preview – SQL Server Analysis Services.  This has been a glaring gap in the cloud stack for years and while you could deploy databases through Azure SQL and/or Azure Data Warehouse, you could not deploy SSAS cubes.  If you wanted to deploy cubes to the cloud, the only approach supported was to spin up a SQL Server as IAAS and pay the full on premise licenses to run it.

The new SSAS service supports data sources from both cloud and on premise including SQL Server, Oracle, SharePoint and HD Insight.

Data sources

The new SQL Server Analysis Services only supports tabular models – multi-dimensional cubes are not supported currently.  Pricing also has not been provided yet.

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New Power BI Solution Templates Provide End to End Data Marts

Microsoft has announced today that they are going to provide a series of “Solution Templates” as part of the Power BI service.  The first solution templates are based on Dynamics CRM and Salesforce and feature an end to end solution for extracting data out of the underlying data source, transforming it into a reporting database and then using Power BI to visualize the data.

A Power BI solution template includes three components:

  1. The ability to get data out of the source application with an initial full load and subsequent incremental loads (ie, just new and changed records) to get data into a datamart or data warehouse,
  2. A pre-configured database and Power BI model with extensible schema and calculations for measures and KPIs pertaining to the domain, and
  3. Quick start tools like a default set of Power BI reports that work out of the box and can be extended.

Solution Templates leverage either SQL Server on premise or Azure SQL in Azure to provide the operational data store. 

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Power BI Q&A Support for On Premise Data Sources Coming Soon

One of the most powerful features in Power BI is the natural language based Q&A feature.  It allows end users to pose questions and receive reports, dashboards and answers using natural language queries.  The Q&A query makes suggestions to the end user on what to ask as well as automatically displays the appropriate chart or graph based on the type of data.  End users can also pin any question to their dashboard.

Auto-Complete

The Q&A support is going to be extended to on premise data sources through the Enterprise Gateway.  Starting with SQL Server 2016 Analysis Services Tabular Models, now in preview, end users will be able to use the Q&A feature to access data on premise in the same as currently supported with cloud data sources.  Additional support for on premise data sources such as SQL Server, Oracle, SSAS, etc. is coming soon.

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DataZen is Officially Dead, Customers Need to Transition to SQL 2016

Microsoft has officially killed the independent DataZen product stack with most of its features now incorporated into SQL Server 2016, SQL Server Reporting Services and Power BI.

Customers will be given 1 year of support following the release of SQL Server 2016 and then the product will be considered end of life. 

To offer Datazen customers more time to plan on when to transition to SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services Microsoft will provide support for existing deployments of Datazen-branded products for 1 year following the SQL Server 2016 GA release.

Our team is actively working on the SQL Server Migration Assistant for Datazen which will help customers in migrating content from Datazen Server 3.0 to SSRS 2016. We plan to release the Migration Assistant shortly after general availability of SQL Server 2016.

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New SQL Server 2016 RC1 Released with SSRS Updates

Microsoft has just released RC1 of SQL Server 2016 and with it a number of SSRS enhancements.  Here are a few of the key updates to reporting services – see this blog post for the full list of enhancements.

Web Portal Replaces Report Manager

Leveraging the DataZen technology the acquired, Microsoft has been working on a new modern HTML 5 based web portal for displaying dashboards and reports.  It is now “feature complete” and replaces the old report manager.

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One of the latest features in RC1 is search – you can enter in a query and be provided all the KPIs, reports and dashboards matching the search terms.

New Custom Branding

The new Web Portal can be branded to reflect your organization’s fonts, colours and logo. 

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Easy Embedding of Reports into other Apps

All reports are now embeddable through an IFrame – for example, in order to embed into a SharePoint page.  You just add the rs:Embed=true query parameter to the end of the URL and it will strip away all of the SSRS chrome to make it optimized for inserting into another page.

Newly Modern Paginated Reports

SSRS reports no longer need to look like they were created in the mid-90s!  Styling is now much easier and is now modern design by default. 

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SQL Server 2016 is Coming to Linux!

Microsoft has just announced that SQL Server 2016 is coming to Linux!

SQL Loves Linux_2_Twitter (002)

Microsoft will be releasing the core database platform on Linux in preview now with an expected release in mid 2017.

There is no word on pricing just yet and it appears for now that SSIS, SSRS and SSAS are not part of the solution – just the core database will be provided.

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New SSRS Features in SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.3

Microsoft has just released the latest preview release of SQL Server 2016.  It is available for download here.

There are a few new features in the latest release of the SQL Server Reporting Services web portal that are worth checking out.

Add to Favorites

You can now add reports and dashboards to a favorites list within SQL Server Reporting Services.

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Managing Data Sources

In the latest version of the portal, you can create and manage data sources to be used by reports and KPIs.

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New Mobile Report Publisher Available in Latest SQL 2016 Build

As part of the latest build of SQL 2016, Microsoft has integrated the DataZen components they acquired into a new Mobile Report Publisher.   This functionality is available in the latest SQL 2016 Build CTP 3.2 available for download here.

Using the Mobile Report Publisher, you can create mobile reports easily that render well both through web and native mobile user experiences.

The Power BI App will be the single app for SSRS and Power BI based reports.  The support for SSRS mobile reports is now available in the latest build of the IPhone app with Android and Windows expected to follow.

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Power BI Mobile App Just Updated with Support for SSRS Reports!

As part of the ever increasing integration between Power BI and SQL Server 2016, Microsoft has released a new version of their Power BI mobile app that features mobile dashboards surfaced from SQL Server 2016 SQL Server Reporting Services.

Whether you use SQL Server Reporting Services on-premises, Power BI in the cloud, or both, you will only need a single mobile app to access dashboards and mobile reports on the go.

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Vision for Microsoft Business Intelligence Starting to be Integrated with SQL 2016

Over the past several years, MIcrosoft has had several reporting and business intelligence streams working somewhat in siloes – we have currently DataZen, Power BI, Excel Services, Power View, SSRS and various other dashboarding components in Microsoft’s other products (Visio, CRM, SharePoint, etc.).  Each tool provides different benefits and is targeted to different audiences.

With the latest announcements about SQL Server 2016, Microsoft is starting to provide a more cohesive and integrated vision that integrates their various reporting tools into a common platform.  Some of these key changes were announced at PASS this week and others have already been released as part of CTM versions of SQL Server 2016.

Power BI for the Cloud, SSRS for On Premise

Power BI will continue to be a 100% dedicated cloud service but SQL Server Reporting Services is being revamped to be the equivalent platform on premise.   You will be able to build SSRS reports and deploy them to Power BI and develop Power BI and publish them to SSRS.

SSRS will be Responsive

The new version of SSRS will be designed for responsive to support HTML 5 based browsers on phones and tablets.

One Mobile App for BI

Microsoft is going to provide a unified mobile experience based on DataZen technologies.  The mobile app will be able to deliver both Power BI and SSRS reports and dashboards through a single user experience.

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