What’s New in SQL Server Analysis Services 2016?

There’s a load of new features that are included in the release of SQL Server Analysis Services 2016 CTP2. I’m pretty excited about these changes and while these changes have been public for a while now, I’d like to share my thoughts. I’ll say that these features are included in the SSAS 2016 CTP2 release. This release does not include all the enhancements to SSAS 2016 and these enhancements are subject to change. You can read about the enhancements here.

Parallel Partition Processing (Tabular only)

Holy smokes it’s about time! Previously to SSAS 2016 table partitions in SSAS tabular were only processed serially. Partitioning a table in a Tabular model gave us no increased performance aside from the ability to only process the partitions with changed data. But gone are those days! Now partitions are processed in parallel giving us a great increase in processing performance.

DBCC XMLA Command (Tabular & Multidimensional)

With the new DBCC XMLA command we can check for database corruption in our Tabular and Multidimensional databases. This has been a need for a while so it will be nice to have another tool in our belt to assist in diagnosing corruption issues.

New DAX Functions (Tabular, duh)

There are a ton of new DAX functions coming with the enhancements of SSAS. This may be silly but probably the new DAX function I’m most excited about is the CALENDAR and CALENDARAUTO functions. The CALENDAR function returns a single column called Date containing a contiguous set of dates based on start and end date parameters that you specify. The CALENDARAUTO does kind of the same thing except the dates included are based on the data in the model.

There are some other enhancements included in the SSAS 2016 CTP2 release that you can read about here but there are also a load of other changes coming not mentioned at that link but were announced at Microsoft Ignite this year. These coming enhancements have been covered extensively in other blogs like this one and this one but I figured I’d discuss my favorites.

Many to Many Relationship Support (Tabular)

Previously many to many relationships had to be handle with DAX which was always kind of a pain in the rear, but now many to many relationships will be supported natively. Yay!

Time Intelligence (Tabular)

Of course you could always write your own time intelligence calculations with DAX but now it’ll be easier. Pretty sweet.

Distinct Count Measure Group Performance (Multidimensional)

We always had to go through loads of work to optimize Distinct Count measure group but with the release of SSAS 2016 we can look forward to increased performance with the Distinct Count measure groups.

I hope you found this information useful. What enhancement are you most looking forward to?

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