The latest news from the PASS summit is that Microsoft are starting to prepare SSAS for the retirement home, in favour of a young gun by the name of BISM.
BISM (BI Semantic Model) is an attempt to unify the worlds of SSAS and SSRS, a bit like a Business Objects Universe with knobs on. You’ll be able to design and publish the model, which then turns into an Analysis Services in-memory database on the server. The column-based technology that underlies it allows lightning fast performance and massive scalability. Not only that, but you will be able to use the model in a SQL pass-through mode instead, where SQL statements are generated when you make queries of the model. Sounds fantastic!
However, there is a ‘but’. What happens to SSAS, with its OLAP cubes and MDX queries? It seems that little new development will go into SSAS- BISM is very much the way forward as far as Microsoft is concerned. However, BISM will not be able to do quite a few things that SSAS can do now, with several key improvements pencilled in for ‘post Denali’. This leaves a certain amount of confusion in the roadmap- do customers invest in SSAS which is very capable but perhaps won’t last for many more releases, or do they invest in BISM which will not have reached maturity?
I hope Microsoft clear this up as soon as possible, or at least listen to the views of the community to make this as smooth as transition as possible.
Chris Webb gives more details in this blog post.
Update: After Microsoft posted to provide clarity on the situation, Chris has posted further here.