Part 1: Migrate Azure Analysis Services to Power BI Premium using Azure Databricks - Why
Published May 29 2024 04:02 PM 1,401 Views

This post is authored in conjunction with Leo Furlong, Senior Solutions Architect, at Databricks.


In the world of data analytics and business intelligence, the tools and platforms you use can significantly impact the efficiency and capabilities of your data operations. Two major shifts in the landscape are the migration from Azure Analysis Services to Power BI Premium and the move to Azure Databricks SQL as the underlying data source for Power BI. Let's dive into why these changes are worth considering.


Migrating from Azure Analysis Services to Power BI Premium

Azure Analysis Services has been a staple in the enterprise semantic layer toolset, providing robust semantic layer capabilities. It's the same engine that powers Power BI under the hood, which means there's a shared lineage and compatibility between the two services. However, Power BI has evolved rapidly and now offers a superset of functionalities that were once exclusive to Azure Analysis Services.

Here are some compelling reasons to migrate:

  • Enhanced Functionality: Power BI Premium has grown to encompass all the capabilities of Azure Analysis Services and then some. A feature comparison matrix is provided here.
  • Tool Consolidation: By migrating to Power BI Premium, organizations can consolidate their semantic layer and BI tools into a single platform. This not only simplifies the architecture but also reduces the overhead associated with maintaining multiple systems.
  • Microsoft's Direction: Microsoft itself recommends that customers transition their Azure Analysis Services models to Power BI Premium. This is a strong indicator of the strategic direction Microsoft is taking, with Power BI Premium positioned as the go-to enterprise semantic layer solution.

For more details on this migration, you can refer to Microsoft's official documentation here.


Moving to Azure Databricks SQL for Power BI

Azure Databricks SQL offers a modern and optimized approach to handling present and future data analytics challenges at any scale. When paired with Power BI, it unlocks new levels of performance and cost efficiency.  It also provides the most elastic, highest performing, and cost-effective Azure native solution available today for Data Warehousing.  

Here's why Azure Databricks SQL is an excellent match for Power BI:

  • Native Integration: Power BI Premium supports native connections to Databricks SQL through the Databricks connector deployed through Power BI Desktop and the Service, allowing for seamless integration and data flow between the two services. This means you can leverage the full power of Databricks' data processing within your Power BI reports.
  • Advanced Power BI Features: With the Azure Databricks SQL connector, you can take advantage of Power BI's most sophisticated features, such as Import, DirectQuery, Dual Storage modes, Composite Models, Hybrid tables, and User-defined and Automatic Aggregations. These features provide performance and flexibility in how you handle and analyze your data.
  • Security and Management: The connector supports connections to Unity Catalog, the Databricks Security and Governance solution, using a stored credential, Service Principal, or Single Sign-On (SSO), ensuring that your data access is secure and easily manageable.
  • Cost Savings with Azure Databricks SQL Serverless: Azure Databricks SQL Serverless turns on within seconds, auto-terminates in as little as a minute, and charges for use by the second. This means you're not paying for idle compute resources when they're not in use, which can lead to significant cost savings, especially for organizations dealing with large volumes of data and a lot of users.
  • Composite Models equals the Best Overall Experience: Composite models in Power BI allow you to combine the speed of imported models with the freshness of DirectQuery, leading to potential cost savings and the best overall user experience possible. You can store large datasets in Azure Databricks SQL and only query what's needed, reducing the overall resource consumption on your Power BI Premium capacity.
  • Unlimited Concurrency: Azure Databricks SQL Serverless scales out to multiple clusters in seconds, providing Power BI composite models with unlimited report user concurrency in real-time. Azure Databricks SQL Serverless also scales down aggressively to save costs on idle compute. 

Migrating to Power BI Premium from Azure Analysis Services is a strategic move that aligns with Microsoft's vision for enterprise BI. It consolidates your BI tools into a more powerful and feature-rich platform. Simultaneously, adopting Azure Databricks SQL as your Power BI data source leads to better performance, enhanced features, and cost savings. These shifts represent a modern approach to data analytics, providing organizations with the tools they need to stay agile and data-driven in today's competitive landscape.

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Last update:
‎May 08 2024 08:50 AM