Why Companies Still Choose Analysis Services Over Power BI Premium

by | Aug 23, 2022 | Opinion

Microsoft has been advocating for broader adoption of Power BI Premium, sometimes overshadowing Analysis Services. However, despite the growing features of Power BI Premium, many companies still prefer Azure Analysis Services (AAS) for several critical reasons related to security, role division, development environment, and reporting flexibility.

Security

In Power BI, the responsibility of implementing security features often falls on the developers who build the reports. This integrated approach can simplify security management, making it easier for teams to ensure data protection. Additionally, Power BI applies security configurations uniformly across the platform, providing a consistent security framework from data ingestion to report consumption.

On the other hand, Analysis Services allows for a clear separation between data modeling and security management. This enables a dedicated database team to handle security, providing an extra layer of protection and ensuring compliance with strict security policies. Analysis Services also offers more granular control over security settings, allowing for detailed and customized configurations tailored to specific organizational needs.

Division of Roles and Duties

Power BI Premium supports self-service BI initiatives, empowering business users to perform data modeling, calculations, and visualizations independently. This fosters a more agile and responsive data culture and simplifies workflows by consolidating various BI tasks into a single platform, reducing the need for specialized roles.

Conversely, larger enterprises often prefer a more structured approach, which is where Analysis Services excels. These organizations typically have specialized teams for different BI tasks, allowing data models and calculations to be managed by experts, ensuring higher quality and consistency. This enhanced collaboration between teams, such as database administrators and data analysts, helps each focus on their core competencies and contribute effectively to the overall BI strategy.

Shared Development

Power BI Premium provides an integrated development environment where teams can collaborate on report building and data modeling within the same platform. This cloud-based nature supports remote collaboration, making it easier for distributed teams to work together on BI projects.

However, many developers prefer the collaborative capabilities of Visual Studio, which is used with Analysis Services. Visual Studio is designed for collaborative development and offers more control and detailed capabilities for building complex tabular models. Its integration with version control systems, such as Git, allows for better management of collaborative projects, enabling teams to track changes, manage versions, and collaborate more effectively.

Reporting Options

Power BI Premium offers a unified platform for data visualization and reporting, with powerful features and seamless integration with other Microsoft 365 tools. Reports are accessible via the Power BI service, mobile apps, and embedded solutions, providing flexibility in how users consume and interact with them.

In contrast, Analysis Services supports a wider range of reporting tools, including Power BI, Excel, SSRS, and Tableau. This flexibility allows different departments to use their preferred tools while maintaining a single source of truth (SSOT). The ability to integrate with various reporting tools is especially valuable for larger companies with diverse reporting requirements.

Performance and Scalability

Power BI Premium leverages the scalability of the Azure cloud, allowing companies to handle large volumes of data and high user concurrency with ease. This scalable infrastructure, combined with performance optimization features such as aggregations, incremental refresh, and large models, enhances the overall performance of the BI solution.

In comparison, Analysis Services provides advanced performance tuning capabilities, allowing for fine-tuning of data models to achieve optimal performance. This makes it a reliable choice for handling complex analytical workloads. Additionally, Analysis Services allows companies to allocate dedicated resources to ensure consistent performance, which is crucial for mission-critical BI applications.

Cost Considerations

Power BI Premium offers a straightforward pricing model based on capacity, which can be easier to manage and predict for budgeting purposes. The integrated features of Power BI Premium, such as AI capabilities, dataflows, and paginated reports, can provide additional value, potentially reducing the need for separate tools and licenses.

For large-scale deployments, Analysis Services can be more cost-effective due to its ability to handle extensive data processing and complex calculations efficiently. It also offers flexible licensing options, allowing companies to choose the most cost-effective plan based on their specific needs and usage patterns.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while Power BI Premium continues to evolve, Analysis Services still holds significant advantages in security management, role division, collaborative development, reporting flexibility, and handling performance and scalability needs. These factors, coupled with specific organizational requirements and policies, often make Analysis Services the preferred choice for many companies. Although the gap between Power BI Premium and Analysis Services has narrowed, companies should carefully evaluate their unique needs, the expertise of their teams, and their long-term BI strategy before making a decision. By doing so, they can ensure they choose the solution that best aligns with their business objectives and operational requirements.

Author: Nikolai Pavlov, PMP

Disclaimer: the views and opinions of an author expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Centida.

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