With the release of the SSAS Tabular version, Microsoft started the retirement process of the good old SSAS Multidimensional.
The facts are there! “Where?!” You may ask.
In the release notes that Microsoft made available to the public, every new version of SQL Server got fewer and fewer “new things” for the Multidimensional resulting in the current situation of existing (in my opinion) just to simply support previous developments in that tool.
Just have a look in the following links and decide by yourself:
2014 version shows that at that time Microsoft was still trying to understand exactly which path would take regarding the Tabular|Multidimensional offers.
In this version there was also, in my opinion, a big mess regarding the versions of SQL Server. The mix Standard, Business Intelligence and Enterprise wasn’t quite a good offer to the market. Tabular wasn’t available in the Standard version which helped Multidimensional to continue being used in new developments all around the world.
Then something changed
2016 version brought the new strategy and changed the market. New projects should be done, per Microsoft’s recommendation, using Tabular.
Microsoft page about the two versions of SSAS
For new projects, we generally recommend tabular models. Tabular models are faster to design, test, and deploy; and will work better with the latest self-service BI applications and cloud services from Microsoft.
This is the version that sets the strategy for the future of Business Intelligence in Microsoft’s environment: one tool fits all. Power Pivot, Power BI and Tabular works on top of the same engine (well, almost totally the same engine)* which enables a wide set of type of users to speak the same language while building their analysis and models.
Well done Microsoft!!
Where is the retirement message?
If the sync of engines in the different tools wasn’t already revealing about the future of good old Multidimensional buddy, the most recent nail in the coffin is the Azure Analysis Services offer. Another tool and the same engine and no love for Multidimensional!
4 out of 4 and you are out Multidimensional!
When shall we totally loose Multidimensional?
I would say in probably in 2024 Multidimensional won’t be part of SQL Server at all and 2022 will be the last version with it. I think it’s only fair for Microsoft to give this 10 year period of releases for both versions but don’t think that they will go forward that. Power BI is growing every day which will shift even more people to learn DAX and the xVelocity secrets relegating MDX and Multidimensional to a very secondary position in the next years.
Disclaimer: I don’t have any piece of information that can validate my conclusion regarding the future of Multidimensional. This is what I think! If I get this right, just tell everyone that you got it here first else, well at least I tried.
* A good way to see the differences between the tools is by checking the Dax Guide website. It shows which functions work in each version and tool besides it’s an amazing source of knowledge for Dax Development.