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Visualize Live SQL Analysis Services Data in the Power BI Service

Use the CData Cloud Hub to create a virtual SQL Server database for SQL Analysis Services data and create custom reports in the Power BI Service.

Power BI transforms your company's data into rich visuals for you to collect and organize so you can focus on what matters to you. When paired with the CData Cloud Hub, you get instant access to SQL Analysis Services data for visualizations, dashboards, and more. This article shows how to build and publish a dataset from SQL Analysis Services data in Power BI and then create reports on SQL Analysis Services data in the Power BI service.

The CData Cloud Hub provides a pure SQL interface for SQL Analysis Services, allowing you to easily build reports from live SQL Analysis Services data in Power BI — with no need to replicate the data. As you build visualizations, Power BI generates SQL queries to gather data. Using optimized data processing out of the box, the CData Cloud Hub pushes all supported SQL operations (filters, JOINs, etc) directly to SQL Analysis Services, leveraging server-side processing to quickly return SQL Analysis Services data.

Create a Virtual SQL Database for SQL Analysis Services Data

CData Cloud Hub uses a straightforward, point-and-click interface to connect to data sources and generate APIs.

  1. Login to Cloud Hub and click Databases.
  2. Select "SQL Analysis Services" from Available Data Sources.
  3. Enter the necessary authentication properties to connect to SQL Analysis Services.

    To connect, provide authentication and set the Url property to a valid SQL Server Analysis Services endpoint. You can connect to SQL Server Analysis Services instances hosted over HTTP with XMLA access. See the Microsoft documentation to configure HTTP access to SQL Server Analysis Services.

    To secure connections and authenticate, set the corresponding connection properties, below. The data provider supports the major authentication schemes, including HTTP and Windows, as well as SSL/TLS.

    • HTTP Authentication

      Set AuthScheme to "Basic" or "Digest" and set User and Password. Specify other authentication values in CustomHeaders.

    • Windows (NTLM)

      Set the Windows User and Password and set AuthScheme to "NTLM".

    • Kerberos and Kerberos Delegation

      To authenticate with Kerberos, set AuthScheme to NEGOTIATE. To use Kerberos delegation, set AuthScheme to KERBEROSDELEGATION. If needed, provide the User, Password, and KerberosSPN. By default, the data provider attempts to communicate with the SPN at the specified Url.

    • SSL/TLS:

      By default, the data provider attempts to negotiate SSL/TLS by checking the server's certificate against the system's trusted certificate store. To specify another certificate, see the SSLServerCert property for the available formats.

    You can then access any cube as a relational table: When you connect the data provider retrieves SSAS metadata and dynamically updates the table schemas. Instead of retrieving metadata every connection, you can set the CacheLocation property to automatically cache to a simple file-based store.

    See the Getting Started section of the CData documentation, under Retrieving Analysis Services Data, to execute SQL-92 queries to the cubes.

  4. Click Test Database.
  5. Click Privileges -> Add and add the new user (or an existing user) with the appropriate permissions.

Configuring Power BI and the On-Premises Data Gateway

To connect to and visualize your SQL Analysis Services data in the Power BI service through the CData Cloud Hub, install the on-premises data gateway, add a data source to the gateway from the Power BI service, and publish a dataset from Power BI Desktop to the service.

Install the On-Premises Data Gateway

The Microsoft on-premises data gateway provides secure data transfer between connected data sources and various cloud-based Microsoft tools and platforms. You can read more about the gateway in the Microsoft documentation.

You can download and install the gateway from the Power BI service:

  1. Log in to PowerBI.com
  2. Click the Download menu and click Data Gateway
  3. Follow the instructions for installation, making note of the name of the gateway

Add SQL Analysis Services as a Data Source to the Power BI Service

Once you have installed the data gateway, you add the Cloud Hub as a data source to the Power BI service:

  1. Log in to PowerBI.com
  2. Click the Settings menu and click "Manage gateways"
  3. Click "ADD DATA SOURCE" and configure the connection to the Cloud Hub:

    • Set Data Source Name CloudHub_SSAS
    • Choose SQL Server as the Data Source Type
    • Set Server to the address of your Cloud Hub instance (i.e.: myinstance.cdatacloud.net)
    • Set Database to the name of your virtual SQL Analysis Services database (i.e.: ssasdb)
    • Set Authentication Method to Basic
    • Set Username and Password to Cloud Hub credentials

Publish a Dataset from Power BI Desktop

With the gateway installed and the Cloud Hub added as a datasource to the Power BI service, you can publish a dataset from Power BI Desktop to the service.

  1. Open Power BI, click Get Data -> More, then select SQL Server database, and click Connect.
  2. Set the connection properties and click OK.
    • Set Server to the address of your Cloud Hub instance (i.e.: myinstance.cdatacloud.net)
    • Set Database to the name of your virtual SQL Analysis Services database (i.e.: ssasdb)
    • Set Data Connectivity mode to DirectQuery*
    * DirectQuery enables live query processing and real-time visualizations of SQL Analysis Services data.
  3. In the authentication wizard, select Database, set the User name and Password properties, and click Connect.
  4. Select the table(s) to visualize in the Navigator dialog.
  5. In the Query Editor, you can customize your dataset by filtering, sorting, and summarizing SQL Analysis Services columns. Click Edit to open the query editor. Right-click a row to filter the rows. Right-click a column header to perform actions like the following:

    • Change column data types
    • Remove a column
    • Group by columns

    Power BI detects each column's data type from the SQL Analysis Services metadata reported by the Cloud Hub.

    Power BI records your modifications to the query in the Applied Steps section, adjusting the underlying data retrieval query that is executed to the remote SQL Analysis Services data. When you click Close and Apply, Power BI executes the data retrieval query.

    Otherwise, click Load to pull the data into Power BI.

  6. Define any relationships between the selected entities on the Relationships tab.
  7. Click Publish (from the Home menu) and select a Workspace.

Build Reports and Dashboards on SQL Analysis Services Data in the Power BI Service

Now that you have published a dataset to the Power BI service, you can create new reports and dashboards based on the published data:

  1. Log in to PowerBI.com
  2. Click Workspaces and select a workspace
  3. Click Create and select Report
  4. Select the published dataset for the report
  5. Choose fields and visualizations to add to your report

SQL Access to SQL Analysis Services Data from Cloud Applications

Now you have a direct connection to live SQL Analysis Services data from the Power BI service. You can create more data sources and new visualizations, build reports, and more — all without replicating SQL Analysis Services data.

To get SQL data access to 100+ SaaS, Big Data, and NoSQL sources directly from your cloud applications, see the CData Cloud Hub.