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  • Writer's pictureJesse Arora

Why Analysis Services when you have Power BI?

Updated: Aug 7, 2018

Microsoft played master stroke by creating same semantic model and user experience for both analysis services and power BI but many folks get confused when choosing between two. Analysis services models are built using visual studio while Power BI models are built using Power BI Desktop but one can easily import power BI models into analysis services.

Both Power BI and Analysis services have different target audience, Power BI desktop is targeted for self service analytics for semi technical business users while analysis services is targeted towards IT Data Engineers or Developers. It is much easier for business users to create and publish models using power BI than visual studio but data engineers need to deal with large and complex data sets which will need advanced features like partitioning , scaling, centralized security, advanced publishing using BISM or TMSL and these features are only available in analysis services. Power BI pro has limit of 1 GB per data set , limited refreshes per day , no incremental refresh and also some DAX limitations. Power BI premium overcomes these limitations as it can have data sets as big as capacity and incremental refresh which is easy to setup but no partitioning.

In short both power BI and Analysis services compliment each other choice will depend depending on intent of solution. Please consider before deciding which one.

1. Are you trying to deploy IT managed centralized enterprise BI or self service solution?

2. Who are going to publish the models, Business or IT ?

3. What is the size of data to be cached in each model, < 1 GB, few 100 GB or greater?

5. How often you need to refresh data, once a day or every 15 minutes?

6. How many users will be publishing the models vs how many will be just consuming?

Conclusion: If you are trying to implement complex large scale enterprise BI solution you should chose analysis services for caching models plus power BI pro for visualizations. If you are looking to deploy medium scale self service solution you should chose Power BI premium and if you are just starting or have small data sets with each data set can be less than 1 GB or can use direct query then Power BI pro may be sufficient.

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