Chapter 5Choosing the Right Business Intelligence Semantic Model

For many releases, SQL Server has included SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), which provides Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) and data mining features and capabilities to business intelligence projects and solutions. In SQL Server 2012, Microsoft changed its modeling approach from Unified Dimensional Modeling (UDM) to Business Intelligence Semantic Models (BISM). The UDM included only multidimensional models, whereas BISM not only includes multidimensional but also tabular and Power Pivot models.

The multidimensional modeling approach consists of a very robust and mature set of capabilities that addresses the needs of all organization sizes. Although it is definitely a viable choice for business intelligence analytics, overcoming the learning curve is sometimes difficult for many new to the technology, and is often one of the primary deterrents to adoption. Learning to develop, deploy, and manage these models involves a very wide and intimate knowledge of the product. It typically takes someone months, if not a year, to become a competent multidimensional modeler—an investment often too timely and costly for individuals and organizations.

Just to clarify, none of this should discount the worth of SSAS multidimensional models as a business intelligence solution, but only provide context for upcoming comparisons between it and the recently released Power Pivot and tabular modeling approaches. There are various ...

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