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On the New Business Intelligence Semantic Model for SharePoint 2013

Business Intelligence (BI) stakeholders evaluating whether it makes sense to build BI systems on SharePoint Server 2013 need to get familiar with Microsoft’s new BI Semantic Model. As Jason Himmelstein explains in a video tutorial titled The Business Intelligence Semantic Model, this standard provides ” . . . a single format that we can promote from Excel, through to SharePoint, and into a tabular BISM model, and, finally, into a true analysis services tabular model.”

The benefit of implementing this approach is the additional capabilities LoB users are free to exploit in any of the methods they may opt to implement for BI purposes — Excel, Reporting Services, and Dashboards. Further, once these users are comfortable with these tools, it is possible to move them, really to exploit the scale potential of this solution, from what Jason Himmelstein refers to as a “self service model” to “enterprise BI”. In sum, the BI Semantic model provides “One Model for all End User Experiences”.

The model is also designed to support “big data” sources. So there is support for OData feeds, and cloud services. An eclectic set of data pulled from a diverse set of sources can even be “mashed up” into one set of BI assets, since the same semantic model powers all of the methods.

As Jason notes, the functionality he presents in this video, and, indeed, the whole series is “very new”. Delivery mechanisms include DAX and MDX, and tabular or multi dimensional models are both supported.

The server load has also been reduced. BI applications, including Reporting Services, SharePoint Mode, can be installed on a standalone “analysis services” server, architecturally independent of SharePoint 2013. In fact, multiple farms can access this same server without creating a performance bottleneck.

There are benefits inherent to pursuing a standalone server architecture for BI services, as the result of Microsoft’s recent adoption of a “core-based” licensing model.

Finally, since DAX supports a tabular BISM model, it may be easier for end users to adopt.

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved