Boosting Business Productivity with Microsoft Azure Analysis Services

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Nov
15
2016
  • Author:
  • Nayab Naseer

Microsoft Azure Analysis Services

Think analytics, and most managers begin to have nightmares, considering the provisioning of infrastructure. Microsoft Azure Analysis Services is all set to make their lives easier.  With Microsoft launching Azure Analysis Services as a fully managed Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), business managers can now log on to Azure Resource Manager, and deploy Analysis Services instances in just a few seconds. There is a choice of tiers on offer, with each tier having fixed capacity for query processing units and model cache. As it is with the cloud, users can scale up, or scale down, and pay only for what they use. The Microsoft Azure cloud platform is about 70% to 80% more cost-efficient than procurement of hardware and software the traditional way, besides providing many other benefits.

As it is with any analytic service worth its salt, Azure too facilitates aggregating data from multiple sources into a single analytic pane. However, Azure Analysis Services goes the extra mile with its easy to understand and use BI semantic model. The simplified view on offer, backed up by the simple underlying structure furthers the cause of self-service, connecting data analytics to the actual end-users, eliminating the “data middlemen” from the mix. The cloud based service enables access from anywhere in the planet, from any device, as long as Internet is available.

The Cloud Power

Azure Analysis Services now offers cloud-based access to semantic data modeling tools. Among the several feature enhancements in the PaaS offering is the near-complete SQL Server engine compatibility, and greater support for larger databases. Azure Analysis Services also carries forward its on-premises version’s integration with Microsoft Power BI data visualization tools, thereby offering additional modeling capabilities. It is also possible to connect Azure Analysis Service with third-party intelligence software such as Tableau.

The enhanced feature sets and added capabilities make it possible to manage workloads in the cloud easily, with SQL Server. Business managers are empowered to create custom data models and custom dashboards for specific requirements. They could, for instance, overview performance based on key parameters such as performance against baselines, in real-time, and take instant decisions. They could collate a list of organizational best practices scouring transactional data. The intuitive dashboards and reports offer deep understanding on how work is managed at each stage, work completion and cancellation rates, and a host of other critical information, enabling business managers to make timely decisions on resolving issues that has the biggest impact on performance and customer satisfaction. Such kind of insights will improve business productivity manifold.

Speed- The essence of Azure Analysis Services

Speed is of essence in today’s highly fluid business environments, where information becomes obsolete in minutes, and even a few seconds of delay could mean missing out on lucrative opportunities. Azure Analysis Service is up to the task, delivering fast response times even on complex data-sets. Business managers can now keep track of key trends related to their business, in near real-time. The reduced time-to-insights is facilitated by DataQuery, which connects to real-time operational data.

Robust Security Features

Security is always a pressing concern with cloud services. Azure Analysis Service scores big on this front as well, offering a host of new security features, such as Row-Level Security, dynamic data masking and transparent data encryption. Connect Health, a new feature, enables monitoring the performance and log-in activity of users’ on-premises Active Directory infrastructure, to identify and track suspicious activity. Even more noteworthy is the attempt to infuse flexibility in the domain of security. New conditional access policies permit IT to configure rules that require users to perform multi-factor authentication while they access specific security-sensitive applications. Admins are now empowered to define lists of users who can apply a particular template to protect documents.

Flexibility

Last but not the least, the new Azure Analysis service is a technically robust offering. Customers gain not just from the simplified availability and set-up, but also from the straightforward way to take backups, and patch the SQL Server. The ability to automate full SQL Server level backup to VM Storage from an Azure VM supports taking backups with great ease. The new auto patching capability allows users to effect a more granular control over the Windows Update scheduler.

The new Azure RMS migration toolkit allows organizations to move from AD RMS to Azure RMS, while retaining access to their present RMS-protected content and policies. Microsoft’s new Database Experimentation Assistant enables users to run experiments across different versions, to get a preview of what to expect and gain from the new version.

With Azure Analysis Services, business managers can focus on the results of the analysis, rather than waste time trying to acquire new skills on how to get the analysis done in the first place. Azure Analysis Services being a fully managed service, Microsoft is left figuring out the underlying resources required for the functionality, allowing users to focus on the data.

Azure Analysis Services is compatible with a host of databases, such as SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Oracle and Teradata. The suite uses Visual Studio’s integrated development environment of Visual Studio, and facilitates easy integration of existing SQL Server 2016 to the cloud. These technologies have been around for quite some time, and exhibit a high level of maturity.

Microsoft is launching Azure Analysis Services on the cloud in beta version, with a fully managed Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) available soon. Businesses that leverage this service stand to gain the big benefits that come with turning their data into actionable insights.

You can try out the new Azure Analysis Services using a free Azure Account. Click here for the trial.

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