Microsoft released in March 2018, Common Data Service for Analytics (CDS for Analytics) to be used as part of PowerBI. The continued rise of organisation data volumes are increasing. Which cannot be ignored. IDC (research paper) recently estimated global data creation will exceed more than 160 zettabytes by 2025, with more than 60 percent of this data being created by businesses. Yet tapping into this data and get proper analytics to make informed decision will be challenging.
Traditionally architecting a solution to ingest, integrate and analyse all of your corporate data from disparate services and apps would require access to a team of dedicated professionals with specialised skills. Keep this in mind Microsoft has made a first step towards standardising your data to make analytics easier. In doing so they simplified the process to a certain extent.
First, we will look at what is CDS for Analytics
According to Microsoft, the goal is to make it easy to ingest any data, from any source, at scale.
Essentially, Microsoft is bringing a data lake technology directly into Power BI: people with Power Query skills can get data from multiple sources, centralise, and manage that data within their Power BI experience. The data lake will come with a standard schema, called the Common Data Model, with the most common business entities from the main departments (marketing, sales, customer service, finance), and connectors that ingest data from the most common sources into this schema.
CDS for Analytics belongs to the Data Warehouse/Data Mart/Data Lake family. Its main job is to aggregate, clean, transform, integrate and harmonise data from many sources. It is the central repository for your business data. It is the subcortex of your business.
So what? What is the real use?
I really believe that CDS for Analytics will be to the DW field what Power pivot and Power Query (more lately Power BI) are to the BI field: a revolution for the way of building IT analytics apps. Ten years ago, the BI industry transitioned from IT-driven OLAP technologies (MD cubes) to simpler, faster technologies (yes, Power BI’s underlying technology is 10 years old!) that allowed business analysts to self-serve and build their BI models without needing an IT project for that.
With CDS-A for analytics, Microsoft is doing it again but in the data warehouse/mart/lake field. The Common Data Service for analytics was the missing piece in Microsoft’s new suite of BI technologies. It is now here and will consolidate Microsoft’s position as the go-to vendor for your digital transformation in the data field.
Microsoft also plans to deliver prebuilt connectors that will enable Power BI to extract data from its own Dynamics 365 applications, plus Salesforce and other line of business applications. Users will also be able to integrate their own data into Power BI through CDS for Analytics, according to Microsoft.
Even though data modeling is often the hardest part of the Power BI integration process, Microsoft is taking steps to simplify this. The basic idea behind the improvements is that while organisations differ, they often want to analyse similar types of business data in marketing, sales, finance and other operations.
With this in mind, Microsoft has created the Common Data Model, which combines a set of standardized schemas for commonly used data objects and associated business activities with connectors that pull data into those schemas. For example, there are defined schemas for customer accounts, contacts, sales leads, products and purchase orders.
The schemas supported by CDS for Analytics are built on top of the Common Data Model. That approach makes the data being pulled into Power BI available to users in a consistent way, and it exposes the data that’s most relevant to the particular BI and analytics tasks at hand.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries in regards to Business Intelligence, Data warehousing or CDS for Analytics.
About Prometix: At Prometix, we design implement and support Microsoft based technology solutions that help our client’s staff to more easily use and share information as individuals and in teams. We work with our clients to establish a structure that makes information easier to create, store, find and share with others. We’ve worked hard to understand how people want to access and share information.