Friday, 29 June 2012

BISM and application development convergence - the holy grail of data?

A thought struck me whilst at a session on DAX at TechEd2012 on DAX and its evolution from a functional thing within Excel, to a full-blooded query language.

This in itself is cool and interesting, but with all of the sessions that I've been attending on the Business Intelligence Semantic Model area (BISM) and the way that data experts can build rich Tabular semantic models using PowerPivot the following thought occured:

When will the development and analysis usages of data found themselves on a common model? At what point will a developer make use of the same BISM as someone building a report on that data? Surely this is the holy grail of data interaction and usage, an assurance that the developer benefits from the understanding of data that a business analyst has and that the business analyst can benefit from applications that have been implemented on that common understanding of the purpose of data.

I'm sure someone at MS is already thinking like this, LINQ goes some of the way to taking out some of the heavy lifting when it comes to developers needing to comprehend the purpose and scope of data, but I can see some huge benefits for being able to, for example, open a BISM within Visual Studio and then writing rich data editing and modification applications on top of it.

One obvious issue is that BISMs default to using VertiPaq to cache data, and obviously you don't want a write-back/edit/delete model based on data that might be a day old. Handily you can alread opt to create a BISM in direct query mode, meaning that all queries to the model are evaluated as SQL and executed directly against the underlying data source.

Additionally, there could be connotations for products like BizTalk, as a BISM becomes a data translation engine as it can hold a representation of a number of different data sources.

A prime 'first step' space here would be VS Lightswitch, the two fit together in such an obvious way for me in this context. It really would be cool and MS should hire me to implement it ;-)

A final note; I'm not saying that you can't already use the underlying discovery services to do this with SSAS, you can, of course, I'm just thinking of this from the point of view of being able to autowire standard data controls to a BISM in direct query mode in a Visual Studio context, which you could refine with DAX queries if needed.

- rob

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