If you have been following the PASS summit notes coming from the attendees, you would have noticed an unmatched sense of pandemonium in the SSAS community. The reason is none other than the announcement of Microsoft’s decision to move from the traditional multidimensional SSAS database to the new in-memory Vertipaq BISM. My first source of this news was from Chris Webb’s blog – PASS Summit Day 2 and after reading it, I was in a state of shock for quite some time. It seemed hard to digest that Microsoft could be doing this to one of their most successful tools in the market. This could have been aggravated by the realization that one of my core skills was going to get obsolete and the hesitation or resistance to change from my comfort zone. Even Teo Lachev seemed to mirror the moderate disappointment that seemed to be floating around in Chris’ writeup in his own blog – The Battle of the Models. It wasn’t disappointment everywhere as experts like Boyan Penev (Thoughts on BISM, SSAS and MDX) and Siddharth Mehta (SQL Server Denali – Boost to SSIS career, Start of End to SSAS and MDX career?) have tried to find reason with this development and at least my understanding is that they are more on the happier side. After this feeling had finally sunk in, I decided to write a pre-mature obituary for one of my favourite tools in my company’s technology page as given below:- “ Is it the end of the road for Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services? It certainly seems so, Microsoft has dealt a deathblow to the multidimensional approach of OLAP and has announced in today’s PASS summit that it’s focus is on a newer and less multi-dimensional approach – the BI Semantic Model. The BISM – BI Semantic Model – is the name for the new type of Analysis Services database that gets created when you publish a PowerPivot model up to the server. This is clearly a strategy to bring in more ROLAP experts to the tool as the popular perception is that the learning curve for SSAS is pretty steep and many people are put off by it. What it means is that while the MOLAP SSAS won’t be deprecated, the efforts of the SSAS dev team are concentrated on BISM and PowerPivot and we shouldn’t expect any radical new changes for the future. This could mean a gradual death for SSAS by 2012 once Project Denali (which is expected to be renamed as SQL Server 2011, and rumored to be released in the last quarter of 2011) is released and established commercially. So, welcome DAX and bye MDX.”
Why I termed this as pre-mature is because a new comment has appeared in Chris Webb’s blog from Amir Netz (Lead Architect for Microsoft’s BI offering) and it seems to be promising. Some excerpts from that
Yippee! Again, if I can trust my sense of understanding things, it would mean all is not lost and SSAS is here to stay. I guess I would have to wait for another blog from Chris to completely enlighten common people like me and allay my fears. Till then, I would recommend you guys to go and read Amir’s comments completely in Chris’ blog. And definitely, don’t miss out on the other great blog links that I have given. Update (13/11/2010) Microsoft has come out with an official reply now in the SQL Server Team Blog – Analysis Services – Roadmap for SQL Server “Denali” and Beyond. The blog has tried to put out the fears by underlining that the new BISM model does not replace the traditional UDM model. This is also evident from the model diagram they have posted (given below also) where we can see the relational and multidimensional data models existing side by side. Some salient points of the blog are:-
So this blog from Microsoft should answer the question which we asked, the answer – SSAS is here to STAY!