Roll Your Own SSAS Performance Monitoring Tool

Shabnam Watson has a great post on building an Analysis Services performance monitoring tool from scratch using Power BI:

In many cases, SSAS works efficiently with default settings right out of the box. However, when you have large databases, substantial number of concurrent users, insufficient resources on your server, or when best practices are not followed during SSAS database design, you can run into performance bottlenecks and problems. In these scenarios, you need to know what to measure and how to measure them, what’s normal for your environment (benchmark), and you need to have some amount of historical measurements to be able to see the events that lead to a certain bad performance/failure point. Once you have this data, you can improve your server’s performance by addressing the problem(s).

This is a tour de force of an article, absolutely worth reading if you plan on dealing with Analysis Services at some point.  Even if you don’t build your own tool, you’ll learn a lot about what drives SSAS performance and what indicates that there might be a problem.

BI Announcements At PASS Summit

Chris Webb points out some good news released at PASS Summit:

Power BI Report Server

There’s a new release of Power BI Report Server available, and you can read all about it here:

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/new-version-of-power-bi-report-server-now-available/

The blog post highlights the fact that you can connect to SSRS shared datasets via OData – which is basically what I was talking about here.

This is the big one for me, but there are a few other product updates that Chris covers as well.

Locale Problems With SSAS

Koen Verbeeck diagnoses an awful Analysis Services error:

This really didn’t make any sense. However, in one of the Discover Begin/End events, the same number appeared again: 8192 (this time explicitly marked as locale identifier). Hmmm, I had problems with weird locales before. I dug into my system, and yes, the English (Belgium) locale was lingering around. I removed it from my system and lo and behold, I could log into SSAS with SSMS again. Morale of the story: if you get weird errors, make sure you have a normal locale on your machine because apparently the SQL Server client tools go bonkers.

Worth reading the whole thing.  And also maybe just using en-US for all locales; at least that one gets tested…

No Hierarchies In SSAS DirectQuery

Thomas LeBlanc points out that Analysis Services Tabular’s DirectQuery functionality does not include hierarchies on dimensions:

You can go to this like from Microsoft about more limitations.

There was also difference in labeling when designing a Tabular Model in Visual Studio (SQL Server Data Tools – SSDT) and making a change to the Model from SQL Server Management Studio – SSMS.

In SSDT, The Property for the Model is DirectQuery and the values are On and Off.

It’s certainly not the end of the world, but I can see it being a bit annoying to deal with.

What’s New In Analysis Services

Christian Wade explains what’s new in SQL Server Analysis Services 2017:

SSAS 2017 introduces the 1400 compatibility level. Here are just some highlights of the new features:

  • New infrastructure for data connectivity and ingestion into tabular models with support for TOM APIs and TMSL scripting. This enables support for a range of additional data sources, and data transformation and mashup capabilities.

  • Support for BI tools such as Microsoft Excel enables drill-down to detailed data from an aggregated report. For example, when end-users view total sales for a region and month, they can view the associated order details.

  • Object-level security to secure table and column names in addition to the data within them.

  • Enhanced support for ragged hierarchies such as organizational charts and chart of accounts.

  • Various other improvements for performance, monitoring, and consistency with the Power BI modeling experience.

There’s plenty more where that came from (unless you’re a Multidimensional fan…), so click through for the details.

Deleting SSAS Cube Partitions With Powershell

Richie Lee shows how to remove Analysis Services cube partitions using Powershell:

One such an example of ad-hoc DBA tasks was when I had to delete about 600 partitions from a measure group that had thousands of partitions. Doing this manually would be ridiculous, so at the time I created a SQL script that used some dynamic T-SQL to create the delete commands in XMLA. XMLA has no “delete if exist” type syntax, so if I needed to run this again, this dynamic SQL output wouldn’t work. And so I decided that if I had to run the same task a gain I would write a PowerShell script that would run DSC-style and drop the partitions that were no longer required. And funnily enough, that is exactly what I had to do.

I knew I would be able to create a Powershell script that used AMO to check if a partition exists and drop it if it did. I also wanted the script to take into account any other partitions in other measure groups that may also need to be dropped. So I made sure the script uses PowerShell switches that can be included when calling the function, and if they are included then the pertaining partitions in that measure group will be deleted. So you can run the script for one, some or all of the measure groups in a cube.

Click through for the script.

Row-Level Security In Power BI

Paul Turley has a video showing how to use row-level security with Power BI:

The best method to implement row-level security in a published Power BI model or SSAS Tabular model consumed from the Power BI service will depend on will depend on your data and requirements.  The method I demonstrate here is one of the most flexible approaches and one that I commonly use in my projects.

Click through to watch the video.

Convert SSAS Tabular Processing Scripts Into Tables

Chris Koester shows how to take an Analysis Services Tabular processing script in TMSL format and turn it into a table using OPENJSON:

The previous post looked at how to process SSAS Tabular models with TMSL. Since SQL Server adds new JSON capabilities in 2016, let’s look at how to convert TMSL JSON to a Table with OPENJSON. OPENJSON is a new function in SQL Server 2016 that, per Microsoft:

OPENJSON is a table-valued function that parses JSON text and returns objects and properties from the JSON input as rows and columns.

In short, OPENJSON converts JSON text to a table. Since TMSL is JSON, this function can convert a SSAS Tabular processing script into a table. This could be useful if you wanted to document a SSAS processing schedule.

That’s an interesting use of OPENJSON.

Web Editor For Azure Analysis Services

James Serra shows off a preview of the Azure Analysis Services web designer for tabular models:

Microsoft has released a preview of the Azure Analysis Services web designer.  This is a browser-based experience that will allow developers to start creating and managing Azure Analysis Services (AAS) semantic models quickly and easily.  SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) and SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) will still be the primary tools for development, but this new designer gives you another option for creating a new model or to do things such as adding a new measure to a development or production AAS model.

A highly requested feature is that you can import a Power BI Desktop file (.pbix) into an Analysis Services database.  And once imported you can reverse engineer to Visual Studio.  Note for PBIX import only Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Data warehouse, Oracle, and Teradata are supported at this time and Direct Query models are not yet supported for import (Microsoft will be adding new connection types for import every month).

Read on for more details.

Automatic Processing Of Azure Analysis Services Models

Dustin Ryan shows how to use Azure Functions to refresh Azure Analysis Services models:

Download the latest client libraries for Analysis Services. This needs to be done on your local machine so you can then copy these files to your Azure Function App.

After you’ve downloaded the client libraries, the DLLs can be found in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\140\SDK\Assemblies. The two files you need are:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\140\SDK\Assemblies\Microsoft.AnalysisServices.Core.DLL
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\140\SDK\Assemblies\Microsoft.AnalysisServices.Tabular.DLL

This step is important because the documentation in Azure references the 130 assemblies, which will not work. You need the assemblies in 140 otherwise you’ll get errors.

Dustin walks through the whole process of setting up an Azure Function step by step.

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