SQL Server 2012 RC0 was put out a couple of weeks ago. It includes a tool called PowerPivot, which Microsoft is touting as the replacement (ahem, augmentation) for Analysis Services cubes.
(The) shiny features of PowerPivot V2, which are:
- Measure-definition through PowerPivot window
- Data view
- New DAX-functions
PowerPivot removes some of the complexity and design decisions from a developer and places them in the hands of an end-user. Pulling in data from various cloud, relational (and cube) sources, the PowerPivot add-in for Excel 2010 (now 2012?) builds an Analysis Services cube in the background. The cube is stored in-memory (or perhaps paged to disk, but still in-memory technically), until it is saved to disk as an XLSX zip file with an ABF Analysis Services Vertipaq-style backup inside.
Before Analysis Services, Pivot tables were something mainly power Excel users dealt with. Analysis Services started bringing Pivot tables to the foreground, with all of their limitations. Corporate users looked to 3rd-party tools for cube browsing, until IT budgets were cut and Excel became “good enough”.
As users needed more data in their pivot tables, they had to find the 1 person in the company with knowledge of these “cubes”, and bring with them budget to change the corporate data structure. Now they need to find one of the 10 users in their company who are power Excel gurus and know about this thing called Powerpivot.
It will be interesting to see what happens when PowerPivot is truly embedded in Excel, without the add-in feel.