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Friday, March 02, 2012

Understanding Business Intelligence Semantic Model (BISM) & Future with AX 2012

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

I hope everyone is doing well on this fine Friday! Hopefully you have had a very productive week, focused on your Dynamics AX projects. I wanted to continue today, the forward looking exercise of diving into the future of Business Intelligence and it's use with AX. We started the look, with an early post, focused around SQL Server 2012 & the Future of BI with Dynamics AX.

That was an introduction really, and resource post on getting access to SQL Server 2012 RC0, as well as focused on the new reality of Personal BI also known as Self-Service BI. From there, the next post was an high level introduction SQL Server 2012 - SSAS Tabular Modeling.

This included an introduction to a recently released book, pictured above, that helps dive into the topics of BI, empowered by SQL Server 2012. Now have these introduction post, it's time to take a step back a bit, and look at the larger picture, and vision of BI. Enter Business Intelligence Semantic Model (BISM).

Image Courtesy of Microsoft

From the above image, we can see that BI is taking shape in three real domains of context, and therefore development. First we have the Personal BI, followed by Team BI & finally Operational BI. A key understanding from this point, at least from the vision point of view, is Microsoft's focus on 'One Model for all End User Experiences'.

This was a driving theme behind Microsoft's adoption of technologies like VertiPaq that are enabling the Tabular Modeling concepts. As well, this still very much includes, vs. excludes, traditional BI concepts like OLAP Cubes.

If we look at this starting from the personal BI, we see technologies, that are very much apart of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 total solution. Starting with Personal BI and it's heavy use of Microsoft PowerPivot, through SharePoint and finally Analysis Services.

Image Courtesy of Microsoft

Moving forward, into the architecture of what will make up the BI Semantic Model, we see again, familiar and current use technologies that enable this reality. technologies, like SQL Server, Cloud based Data Services as we as OData Feeds.

We can see, already, that technologies like Microsoft PowerPivot can be used with enabling technologies like the Open Data Protocol or OData Feeds, can be used, correctly with AX 2012, to consume Query objects, for example, which enable this Personal BI, today. Having the above understanding of the BI Semantic Model, mixed with this understanding and we can see again how SQL Server 2012 will be used, and enable it's reality natively with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 RC2, scheduled for release in 2013.

To help better understand this vision & Microsoft roadmap, a great article was authored last May, that goes deeper into these topics.: Analysis Services – Vision & Roadmap Update

From the article:
"The BI Semantic Model is one model for all end user experiences – reporting, analytics, scorecards, dashboards, and custom applications. All client tools in the Microsoft BI stack – Excel, PowerPivot, SharePoint Insights and Reporting Services (including Crescent) – operate on this model. BI professionals can create the model in Visual Studio and deploy it to an Analysis Services server. Interestingly, the model can also be created by business users with PowerPivot for Excel and shared via PowerPivot for SharePoint. PowerPivot and Analysis Services are two different products; one targets business users and the other targets BI professionals and IT. However both use the BI Semantic Model under the covers."

Image Courtesy of SQLServerPerformance

Taking this understanding around the vision further, and going back to a focus around technical understanding, there is another great article, created by the SQLServerPerformance Site.: Getting Started with Business Intelligence Semantic Model (BISM) in SQL Server 2012

From the post:
"The Business Intelligence Semantic Model is one of the most significant enhancements in SQL Server 2012. BISM allows aspects of the traditional multidimensional model to coexist with the relational model in a format called the tabular model and can be used with all client tools in the Microsoft BI stack."

As you can see, the landscape of BI, offered from Microsoft, natively within the stack and products is getting a massive overhaul, and going to truly enable the 'BI for the Masses' tag line that has been a goal for many years now for Microsoft. These new offerings, are going to be natively used and very much a part of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 RC2. This will have a lasting impact, positive one in my thoughts, for how we even define Business Intelligence within the Dynamics Community.

That's all for this Friday, I hope that these post so far has your wheels turning, and your thinking hard about how this can benefit you and your companies Dynamics AX investment. Value is the focus, reducing time-to-value is the art, and for BI what we are seeing with SQL Server 2012's release brings the tools. Till Next Time!

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

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