Author Power BI Reports on Real-Time SQL Analysis Services Data

Use the CData Power BI Connector for SQL Analysis Services to visualize SQL Analysis Services data in Power BI.

CData Power BI Connectors provide self-service integration with Microsoft Power BI. The CData Power BI Connector for SQL Analysis Services links your Power BI reports to real-time SQL Analysis Services data. You can monitor SQL Analysis Services data through dashboards and ensure that your analysis reflects SQL Analysis Services data in real time by scheduling refreshes or refreshing on demand. This article details how to use the Power BI Connector to create real-time visualizations of SQL Analysis Services data in Microsoft Power BI Desktop.

If you are interested in publishing reports on SQL Analysis Services data to PowerBI.com, refer to our other Knowledge Base article.

Collaborative Query Processing

The CData Power BI Connectors offer unmatched performance for interacting with live SQL Analysis Services data in Power BI due to optimized data processing built into the connector. When you issue complex SQL queries from Power BI to SQL Analysis Services, the connector pushes supported SQL operations, like filters and aggregations, directly to SQL Analysis Services and utilizes the embedded SQL Engine to process unsupported operations (often SQL functions and JOIN operations) client-side. With built-in dynamic metadata querying, you can visualize and analyze SQL Analysis Services data using native Power BI data types.

Connect to SQL Analysis Services as a Power BI Data Source

Installing the Power BI Connector creates a DSN (data source name) called CData Power BI SQL Analysis Services. This the name of the DSN that Power BI uses to request a connection to the data source. Configure the DSN by filling in the required connection properties.

You can use the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and configure the DSN: From the Start menu, enter "ODBC Data Sources" and select the CData PowerBI REST DSN. Ensure that you run the version of the ODBC Administrator that corresponds to the bitness of your Power BI Desktop installation (32-bit or 64-bit). You can also use run the ConfigureODBC.exe tool located in the installation folder for the connector.

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.

Query SQL Analysis Services Tables

Follow the steps below to build a query to pull SQL Analysis Services data into the report:

  1. Open Power BI Desktop and click Get Data -> Other -> CData SSAS.
  2. Select CData PowerBI SQL Analysis Services in the Data Source Name menu and select a data connectivity mode:
    Select Import if you want to import a copy of the data into your project. You can refresh this data on demand.
    Select DirectQuery if you want to work with the remote data.
  3. Select tables in the Navigator dialog.
  4. 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 retrieved by the connector.

    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.

Create Data Visualizations

After pulling the data into Power BI, you can create data visualizations in the Report view by dragging fields from the Fields pane onto the canvas. Follow the steps below to create a pie chart:

  1. Select the pie chart icon in the Visualizations pane.
  2. Select a dimension in the Fields pane: for example, Fiscal_Year.
  3. Select a measure in the Fields pane: for example, Sales_Amount.

You can change sort options by clicking the ellipsis (...) button for the chart. Options to select the sort column and change the sort order are displayed.

You can use both highlighting and filtering to focus on data. Filtering removes unfocused data from visualizations; highlighting dims unfocused data. You can highlight fields by clicking them:

You can apply filters at the page level, at the report level, or to a single visualization by dragging fields onto the Filters pane. To filter on the field's value, select one of the values that are displayed in the Filters pane.

Click Refresh to synchronize your report with any changes to the data.

At this point, you will have a Power BI report built on top of live SQL Analysis Services data. Learn more about the CData Power BI Connectors for SQL Analysis Services and download a free trial from the SQL Analysis Services Power BI Connector page. Let our Support Team know if you have any questions.