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Category: Analysis Services

Calculated Columns and Memory Usage in Analysis Services

Teo Lachev troubleshoots a customer issue:

Scenario: A client reports a memory spike during processing. They have a Tabular semantic model deployed to Azure Analysis Services. They fully process the model daily. The model normally takes less than 50 GB RAM but during processing, it spikes five times and Azure Analysis Services terminates the processing task complaining that it “reached the maximum allowable memory in our pricing tier”. Normally, fully processing the model should take about twice the memory but five times?

Teo gives us the explanation for this problem as well as a recommendation on how to fix it.

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Naive Bayes Predictions with Analysis Services

Dinesh Asanka shows how you can use the Naive Bayes algorithm in an Analysis Services data mining project:

Microsoft Naive Bayes is a classification supervised learning. This data set can be bi-class which means it has only two classes. Whether the patient is suffering from dengue or not or whether your customers are bike buyers or not, are an example of the bi-class data set. There can be multi-class data set as well.

Let us take the example which we discussed in the previous article, AdventureWorks bike buyer example. In this example, we will use vTargetMail database view in the AdventureWorksDW database.

During the data mining algorithm wizard, the Microsoft Naive Bayes algorithm should be selected as shown in the below image.

Of mild interest is that it’s a two-class classifier here, but it’s a multi-class classifier in the (much) later ML.NET.

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Diagnosing Analysis Services with SSASDiag

Chris Webb discusses SSASDiag:

There are a lot of great community-developed tools out there for Analysis Services developers to use (BI Developer ExtensionsDAX StudioTabular EditorAnalysis Services Query Analyzer to name a few) and they have saved me vast amounts of time and effort over the years. When I joined Microsoft last month I came across one which I had never seen before but which is nevertheless quite mature and feature-rich: the SSAS Diagnostics Tool or SSASDiag for short. It’s available on GitHub here:
https://github.com/ssasdiag/SSASDiag

Read on for Chris’s initial thoughts and check out the tool.

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Moving a Power BI Data Model to Tabular

Ginger Grant provides some tips on migrating from a Power BI data model to an Analysis Services Tabular model:

Unless you are upgrading to analysis services on SQL Server 2019, chances are you are going to have to review your DAX code and make some modifications as DAX on the other versions of SQL Server are not the same as Power BI. I was upgrading to AS on SQL Server 2016, there were some commands that I had to manual edit out of the JSON file. If you have any new DAX commands, take them out of your Power BI Model which means you will not have to manually edit the JSON file to remove them when the new commands are flagged as errors. Make sure your Power BI Model does not include commands such as SELECTEDVALUE, GENERATESERIES as well as all of the automatically generated date hierarchies. After your Power BI desktop file is clean, leave it running as you are going to need to have it running for the next step.

Click through for more details.

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Auditing Azure Analysis Services

Kasper de Jonge shows how you can audit an Azure Analysis Services cube:

So the question was: how can I see who connected to my AS Azure database and what queries where send? Initially I thought of ways I used to do this in the on premises world. Capture profiler traces or XEvents by writing code and then store it somewhere for processing. It looks like was not alone in these, even the AS team itself had ways to capture XEvents and store them: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/using-xevents-with-azure-analysis-services/

But it turns out it is much more smooth, simple and elegant by leveraging Azure’s own products. In this case we will be using Azure Log Analytics. It already documented in the official documentation here.

Click through for a demo.

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Big SSAS News In SQL Server 2019 CTP 2.3

Chris Webb is excited about what’s in SQL Server 2019 CTP 2.3:

With the release of CTP 2.3 of SQL Server 2019 today there was big news for Analysis Services Tabular developers: Calculation Groups. You can read all about them in detail in this blog post:

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/analysisservices/2019/03/01/whats-new-for-sql-server-2019-analysis-services-ctp-2-3/

In my opinion this is the most important new feature in DAX since… well, forever. It allows you to create a new type of calculation – which in most cases will be a time intelligence like a year-to-date or a previous period growth – that can be applied to multiple measures; basically the same thing that we have been doing in SSAS Multidimensional for years with the time utility/shell/date tool dimension technique. It’s certainly going to solve a lot of problems for a lot of SSAS Tabular implementations, many of which have hundreds or even thousands of measures for every combination of base measure and calculation type needed.

Click through for more of Chris’s thoughts and how calculation groups will make your life easier.

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QueryMemoryLimit In SSAS 2019

Shabnam Watson covers a new setting in Analysis Services 2019:

The purpose of this setting is limit the amount of memory any single query can take. This setting is extremely useful when you want to limit the amount of memory consumption per query for queries across the board. Before this setting, it was possible to have an extremely poorly written query eat up all of a server’s memory and bring all other queries down to a halt. You can see an example of a such a query and SSAS memory settings in my previous post here.

Read on for details about what it does and what happens when a query reaches the memory limit.

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Understanding Analysis Services Memory Behavior

Shabnam Watson walks us through SQL Server Analysis Services memory settings and application behavior under memory stress:


If memory consumption is below the Low limit everything is fine and it is free to stay in memory. Once the consumption passes the Low limit a cleaner thread wakes up and tries to clean up memory. At this point price of memory is no longer zero. It starts from 2 at the Low limit and goes as high as 1000 when memory consumption reaches the Total limit. The higher the memory pressure the more aggressive the cleaner gets. Once memory consumption reaches the Hard limit all connections/sessions are closed and queries are cancelled with an out of memory error.

This is a thorough explanation with some good demos and terrible queries.  Give it a read.

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More Tabular Best Practices

Ginger Grant continues her series on Analysis Services Tabular best practices:

Optimize your DAX Code

While it is not easy to performance tune DAX you can do it, by evaluating the DAX Query Plan and VeritPaq Queries, and SQLBI’s VertiPaq Analyzer. Also, you can also look to use functions which perform better, for example COUNTROWS instead of DISTINCTCOUNT or ADDCOLUMNS instead of SUMMARIZE. Whenever possible use the CALCULATE function instead of the FILTER function, as CALCULATE filters for context inside the parenthesis and are more efficient. Also all of the iterative functions SUMX, COUNTX etc., should be used sparingly as the row-by-row transactions they create are less efficient and should be used only when SUM or COUNT will not work.  When evaluating if a value missing, if it is possible, use ISEMPTY instead of ISBLANK as ISEMPTY looks only for the presence of a row, which is faster than the evaluation performed by ISBLANK.

Read on for several more items in this vein.

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