What is Analysis Services?

Analysis Services is an analytical data engine used in decision support and business analytics, providing the analytical data for business reports and client applications such as Power BI, Excel, Reporting Services reports, and other data visualization tools.

A typical workflow includes authoring a multidimensional or tabular data model, deploying the model as a database to an on-premises SQL Server Analysis Services or Azure Analysis Services server instance, setting up recurring data processing, and assigning permissions to allow data access by end-users. When it's ready to go, your semantic data model can be accessed by any client application supporting Analysis Services as a data source.

Analysis Services on-premises and in the cloud

Analysis Services is now available in the cloud as an Azure service. Currently in preview, Azure Analysis Services supports tabular models at the 1200 compatibility level. DirectQuery, partitions, row-level security, bi-directional relationships, and translations are all supported. To learn more and give it a try for free, see Azure Analysis Services.

Server mode

When installing Analysis Services by using SQL Server Setup, during configuration you specify a server mode for that instance. Each mode includes different features unique to a particular Analysis Services solution.

  • Tabular Mode - Implement in-memory relational data modeling constructs (model, tables, columns, measures, hierarchies).

  • Multidimensional and Data Mining Mode - Implement OLAP modeling constructs (cubes, dimensions, measures).

  • Power Pivot Mode - Implement Power Pivot and Excel data models in SharePoint (Power Pivot for SharePoint is a middle-tier data engine that loads, queries, and refreshes data models hosted in SharePoint).

A single instance can be configured with only one mode, and cannot be changed later. You can install multiple instances with different modes on the same server, but you'll need to run Setup and specify configuration settings for each instance. For detailed information and a comparison of different features offered in each of the modes, see Comparing Tabular and Multidimensional Solutions.

Authoring and managing solutions

To create a model, you use SQL Server Data Tools, choosing either a Tabular or Multidimensional and Data Mining project template. The project template contains folders for all of the objects needed in a model. Wizards help create many of the basic elements, such as data sources, data source views, dimensions, cubes, and roles. Once your model database is deployed to a server, you use SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to configure data processing, monitor, and manage your server and databases. To learn more, see Tools and applications used in Analysis Services)

Documentation by area

Documentation for Analysis Services is organized into sections that correspond to the type of project you are building. Use the left nav or the following links to learn more about modes and features.