The public CTP 1.1 of SQL Server vNext on Windows is now available, with improvements to Analysis Services.
SQL Server vNext is Microsoft's latest move to make SQL Server more attractive, offering choices of development languages, data types, on-premises and in the cloud, and across operating systems so you can use it not just on Windows, but also on Linux, and Linux-based Docker containers.
The news that SQL Server was going to be made available for Linux was a major surprise earlier in the year, and this second Community Technology Preview (CTP) shows Microsoft is serious about the Linux aspect, with a better performance for several elements under Linux and support for more Linux distributions. The new CTP offers better performance for T-SQL (Transact-SQL) thanks to modules that have been natively compiled. It also updates columnstore indexes faster.
Away from Linux, the CTP focuses on the Analysis Services element of SQL Server, with a new infrastructure for data connectivity and bringing data into tabular models. This is similar to the way Excel and Power BI desktop detal with connectivity, and means Analysis Services will be able to connect to many more data sources from normal SQL databases through Azure sources and other online services all the way to Big Data systems. You'll also be able to add data connections and M queries to a Tabular model programmatically by using the Tabular Object Model (TOM) and the Tabular Model Scripting Language (TMSL)
The change means data sources such as MySQL will be supported, and BI tools such as Microsoft Excel will be able to show underlying detailed data from an aggregated report. This is achieved by adding support for detail rows - the ability to define a custom row set contributing to a measure value. Multidimensional models already achieve this by using the default drillthrough action, and a similar feature has now been added to Analysis Services.
From a security viewpoint, you get more granular security, and you'll be able to set permissions to help secure individual tables.
Another improvement is to the handling of ragged hierarchies - parent child hierarchies where you can have different numbers of child levels for different members, such as organizational charts. By default, ragged hierarchies are displayed with blanks for levels below the lowest child. CTP1.1 introduces the Hide Members property to correct this.