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Datasets renamed to semantic models

Headshot of article author Christian Wade

Since we announced general availability more than 8 years ago, Power BI has empowered self-service business analysts to discover insights quickly and easily without a dependency on IT. Over the years, Power BI evolved into the leading platform for both self-service and IT-managed enterprise BI.

With exponential growth in data volumes, Power BI customers demand analytical solutions that scale to petabytes, are secure, governed, and easy to manage. Power BI datasets represent enterprise-grade semantic models providing the authoritative source of truth for reports in the largest organizations, promoting consistent, data-driven decisions.

The announcement of Microsoft Fabric earlier this year marks the dawn of a new era for the product. Fabric is the first truly unified analytics solution based on one copy of data. Using open-standard formats and end-to-end service offerings, Fabric enables customers to avoid vendor lock-in, and prevent data-fragmentation complexity. Fabric is transforming how analytics projects are delivered.

In the age of Fabric, the term “dataset” is too generic, and doesn’t do justice the rich functionality provided. The scope of personas, workloads, and services that create artifacts which could be labeled as “datasets” is far broader than when the term was originally introduced.

It is no coincidence that Microsoft has a deep heritage in enterprise semantic modeling. We are the only vendor to be ranked as leaders in Gartner’s magic quadrant for BI & analytics platforms for 16 years in a row. The Analysis Services engine that ships in SQL Server Analysis Services and Azure Analysis Services is the most widely adopted semantic modeling technology in the market. The same technology is also at the heart of Power BI datasets. Power BI – and now Microsoft Fabric – has inherited a large ecosystem of developers, partners and BI tools built up over many years. We’ve come full circle.

Datasets are being renamed to semantic models in Power BI and Fabric. You will see this in the most prominent UI elements in the product, and the documentation is being updated. APIs are not currently affected, and we will progressively roll out further changes. We acknowledge that this may cause some disruption, but it’s necessary for disambiguation from other Fabric items. Over time, this will make the product clearer and more usable. The timing of this change is driven by the upcoming general availability of Fabric and aligns with the rename for ML models. It reflects the immense progress that Power BI datasets have made in becoming an enterprise-grade semantic modeling technology. The semantic model name will help drive awareness of the unparalleled capabilities provided.

Sample of item types showing breadth of content