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Power BI vs SAS Viya: A Comparative Overview

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    In the realm of business intelligence and data analytics, Power BI and SAS Viya stand out as leading tools. Both platforms offer robust functionalities to help organizations understand and leverage their data effectively. However, they differ in features, complexity, and overall approach to data intelligence.

    While Power BI is known for its user-friendly interface and deep integration with other Microsoft products, SAS Viya provides advanced analytics with an emphasis on data science capabilities. Choosing between them can significantly impact your data strategy and analytical outcomes. This comparison will provide clarity on the strengths and limitations of each.

    Additionally, we'll explore how Sourcetable offers a simplified yet powerful alternative for business intelligence tasks. With a spreadsheet-like interface that syncs with your data, Sourcetable aims to modernize and streamline the process of reporting and data analytics.

    Power BI

    What is Power BI?

    Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools designed for data visualization and sharing insights. It allows users to connect to a wide range of data sources, from Excel spreadsheets to hybrid data warehouses, and transform this data into interactive and visually compelling reports and dashboards.

    • Core Components

    • Power BI Desktop: A desktop application for creating reports and data visualizations.
    • Power BI Service: A cloud-based service (SaaS) for sharing and consuming business insights.
    • Power BI Mobile Apps: Applications for viewing and interacting with Power BI content on mobile devices.
    • Additional Features

    • Power BI Report Builder: Tool for creating paginated reports.
    • Power BI Report Server: On-premises report server for publishing Power BI reports.
    • Integration and Administration

      Power BI integrates with Microsoft Fabric, enhancing data analysis and visualization capabilities. It is managed within Microsoft Fabric, streamlining administrative tasks and providing a robust environment for large organizations to analyze and bring data to life.

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    What is SAS Viya?

    SAS Viya is a comprehensive AI platform designed to meet the end-to-end needs of data science and application development. It allows users to handle data of varying sizes and complexities, facilitating data transformation and cleansing through user-friendly interfaces. The platform supports the construction of robust data pipelines and promotes trust in data with features for lineage and transparency.

    • Data Access and Management

    • Enables access to diverse data sets.
    • Provides tools for data cleansing and transformation.
    • Supports creation of data pipelines.
    • Enhances data trustworthiness with lineage and transparency features.
    • Model Building and Deployment

    • Facilitates rapid model development.
    • Allows for deployment of decision flows.
    • Automates model performance monitoring and tuning.
    • Ensures automatic retraining of models.
    • Performance and Scalability

      The platform is engineered to scale alongside AI advancements, delivering performance that is 30 times faster than other open source and commercial solutions. It provides mechanisms for automating machine learning processes, uniquely positioning itself as the sole tool for this purpose.

    • Value and Trust

      SAS Viya excels in turning analytics results into tangible and reliable value, maximizing the return from data and AI investments. It stands out as a trusted solution in the field of artificial intelligence, tailored for use by data scientists and developers alike.

    Power BI

    Power BI Features

    Data Connectivity and Visualization

    Power BI provides capabilities to connect to any data source, facilitating diverse data analysis and visualization needs.

    Integration with Everyday Apps

    Users can integrate Power BI visuals into applications they use daily, enhancing the usability of both the apps and the data insights.

    Insight Discovery

    Power BI tools enable users to discover insights from data, allowing for the transformation of these insights into actionable impact.

    Support Services

    Power BI offers chat support to assist users with queries and issues, ensuring a smoother user experience.

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    Key Features of SAS Viya

    Data Importation and Management

    SAS Visual Analytics supports a versatile range of data sources including databases, Hadoop, Excel, and social media. It facilitates data quality functions such as case changing, conversion, renaming, column removal, and splitting for data management.

    Report Building and Dashboard Creation

    Users can create reports and dashboards by simply dragging and dropping data files such as Excel, CSV, or SAS datasets. Custom calculations and transformations are enabled through custom coding for calculated columns.

    Visualization and Charting

    With a variety of graph objects like Bar, Pie, Donut, and more, SAS Visual Analytics offers comprehensive charting options, including autocharting for optimal graph selection. Advanced analytical visualizations such as box plots and decision trees are also available.

    Web Integration and Collaboration

    Integration with web content and images enhances report detail while comments can be added for collaborative purposes. Users can create alerts for report objects to stay informed.

    Distribution and Sharing

    Secure report distribution is possible via PDFs or email, with the option for recurring intervals. Reports can be exported to Excel, and modifications like filters and calculations can be shared and reused.

    Templates and Customization

    Users can save a page as a template for consistency across reports. For unique visualization needs, custom visualizations such as D3.js graphs can be integrated.

    Geospatial and Forecasting Capabilities

  • Integration with Esri enhances geospatial data representation.
  • Forecasting features include automatic generation with confidence intervals.
  • Power BI

    Benefits of Power BI Pro for Business Intelligence

    Enhanced Collaboration and Sharing

    Power BI Pro enables seamless sharing and collaboration on interactive data visualizations, integrating with platforms like Microsoft Teams, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform to streamline business processes.

    Self-Service Analytics

    With self-service analytics capabilities, Power BI Pro empowers users to share insights and make data-driven decisions without extensive technical expertise.

    Comprehensive Data Connectivity

    Users can connect to any data source, ensuring a flexible and robust analytics environment that accommodates diverse datasets.

    Data Preparation and Analysis

    Power BI Pro offers low-code or no-code tools for data preparation, enhancing productivity and enabling more users to engage with data analytics.

    Advanced AI Insights

    The platform leverages advanced generative AI to help users discover deeper insights, making complex data analysis more accessible.

    Integration with Familiar Tools

    Power BI Pro's compatibility with familiar tools ensures a gentle learning curve and smoother integration into existing workflows.

    Data Governance

    The governance features of Power BI Pro provide secure data management, ensuring that sensitive information is handled responsibly.

    Centralized Data Management

    Microsoft Fabric offers a unified space where users can access all their data and analytics tools, simplifying the data management process.

    Power BI

    Disadvantages of Using Power BI for Business Intelligence

    Learning and Usability Challenges

    Power BI presents a steep learning curve, which can be a barrier for new users. Its user interface is considered outdated, potentially affecting user adoption and productivity.

    Limited Customization and Formatting

  • Power BI offers limited customization options, restricting the ability to tailor the tool to specific business needs.
  • Visual customization and formatting options are limited, which can impact the effectiveness of reports and data visualizations.
  • Data Management and Performance Issues

  • The query editor in Power BI is slow, which can hinder data analysis processes.
  • Power BI has performance issues when handling large datasets, leading to delays and inefficiencies.
  • There are data integrity issues when Power BI is used with Excel, affecting the reliability of reports.
  • Power BI is an online-only application, which may not be suitable for organizations with offline data analysis needs.
  • Integration and Compatibility Limitations

  • Power BI may not support some specialized data sources or data types, limiting its applicability in diverse IT environments.
  • There are compatibility issues with non-Microsoft applications, which can be problematic in mixed-software scenarios.
  • Data Capacity and Processing Constraints

  • Restrictions exist on the amount of data that can be loaded into Power BI, potentially limiting its use in data-intensive situations.
  • Power BI lacks in-memory data processing, which can affect the speed and efficiency of data analysis.
  • Security Considerations

    Power BI has limited data security options, which may not meet the needs of organizations with stringent data protection requirements.

    Power BI

    Frequently Asked Questions About Power BI

    What is Power BI?

    Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics service that allows users to visualize and analyze data from a variety of sources.

    How can I get started with Power BI?

    Business users need a web browser and email to get started using Power BI, and can create reports using the free Power BI Desktop application.

    Is there a mobile app for Power BI?

    Yes, Power BI native apps are available for Android, iOS, and Windows 10 devices.

    What are the differences between Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium?

    Power BI Pro allows users to access all content and capabilities in the Power BI service and collaborate with other Pro users. Power BI Premium provides a capacity that delivers more consistent performance, supports larger data volumes, and enables widespread distribution of content by Pro users.

    How can I undo an action in Power BI?

    Undo can be done in Power BI by pressing Ctrl+Z.

    Use Cases for Power BI

    • Power BI

      Personal BI for individual data analysis

    • Power BI

      Departmental BI for distributing insights within a business unit

    • Power BI

      Self-service real-time analytics for immediate data reporting

    • Power BI

      Enterprise content publishing for large-scale content distribution

    • Power BI

      Embedding Power BI visuals into customer-facing applications

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    Advantages of SAS Viya for Business Intelligence and Data Analytics

    Cloud-Based Analytics and Access

    SAS Viya is a cloud-based analytics platform that provides users with the flexibility to access data and perform analysis from anywhere. Its cloud-based nature ensures instant access to powerful statistical analysis and reporting applications, allowing for easy deployment in various environments.

    Advanced Statistical Analysis Tools

    The platform offers advanced statistical analysis tools, supporting a wide range of methods including geolocation and the latest statistical methodologies. Regular updates to statistical methods ensure that businesses can leverage cutting-edge analytics.

    Flexible and Extensible Programming

    SAS Viya's highly flexible and extensible 4GL allows for the use of hundreds of language elements and functions, supporting programming for data extraction, formatting, and analysis. It improves programmer productivity through a web-based environment and prebuilt libraries of procedures.

    Integration and Collaboration

    SAS Viya facilitates integration with various applications such as Microsoft Office suite and AWS, enhancing collaboration capabilities. It also allows data science to be integrated into applications, balancing open source solutions with commercial software.

    Data Visualization and Reporting

    Utilizing web-based commands, users can execute statistical procedures that generate business maps, charts, plots, and 3-D relationship graphs for enhanced data visualization. The platform's self-service capabilities streamline the process of programming, analysis, and reporting.

    Scalability and AI Model Development

    As a scalable environment, SAS Viya supports the development of AI models, aiding organizations in evolving their analytics ecosystems for tasks such as machine learning, text analytics, and location analytics.

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    Disadvantages of SAS Viya for Business Intelligence

    Limited Accessibility for Smaller Organizations

    SAS Viya is predominantly utilized by larger enterprises, suggesting it may not be accessible or suitable for small and medium-sized businesses. The potential complexity and resource demands of SAS Viya could pose challenges for these smaller entities, potentially affecting its ease of use within such organizations.

    Cost Considerations

    The expense of SAS Visual Analytics is a significant disadvantage for businesses looking to manage costs effectively. This financial aspect can be a barrier, particularly for organizations with limited budgets for business intelligence tools.

    User Experience Barriers

  • The steep learning curve of the software can inhibit user adoption and proficiency.
  • A lack of beginner-friendly tutorials can hinder new users from quickly leveraging the tool’s capabilities.
  • The sizable installation file may contribute to longer setup times and require substantial storage resources.
  • Reported deficiencies in customer support can lead to prolonged issue resolution and potential downtime.
  • Technical Limitations

  • Integration with popular open source tools such as Python, Julia, or R is not supported, limiting the versatility of SAS Viya in diverse analytical environments.
  • The drill-down capability of the software, an important feature for in-depth data analysis, could see improvements to enhance user experience and reporting detail.
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    Frequently Asked Questions About SAS Viya

    What are the pricing options for SAS Viya?

    SAS Viya may be priced by users, core capacity, total revenue, transactions, and more. Pricing can vary by SaaS, on-premises, cloud, and others.

    What is the starting price for SAS Viya?

    SAS Viya pricing starts at $1500 per user and $10,000 for core capacity for select offerings.

    How much could a full implementation of SAS Viya cost?

    A full implementation of SAS Viya can go up to multiple millions.

    Can pricing for SAS Viya differ between offerings?

    Yes, SAS Viya may be priced differently depending on the offering and the pricing framework.

    Are there any discounts available for SAS Viya for educational purposes?

    Students, educators, and researchers may get academic discounts for training and certification exams.

    Use Cases for SAS Viya

    • tool icon

      Use case 1: SAS Viya and SAS Grid Manager working in tandem at different stages of a project

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      Use case 2: SAS Viya providing data or analytical input to processes managed by SAS Grid Manager

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      Use case 3: SAS Visual Analytics customers leveraging the capabilities of SAS Grid Manager for enhanced analytics

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      Use case 4: SAS Grid Manager and SAS Viya jointly supporting business critical applications


    Why Sourcetable is a Superior Choice for Business Intelligence

    • Simplified Reporting and Analytics

      Sourcetable offers a streamlined approach to business intelligence by integrating data from multiple services into a user-friendly, spreadsheet-like interface. This simplification eliminates the complexity often associated with traditional BI tools, making it accessible for users of all skill levels.

    • Unified Data Syncing

      Unlike Power BI and SAS Viya, which require handling different data sources separately, Sourcetable syncs data across all services. This centralized data management facilitates a more efficient and cohesive analytics process.

    • Enhanced User Experience

      By focusing on a familiar spreadsheet-like environment, Sourcetable reduces the learning curve for new users, allowing for quicker adoption and productivity compared to the more complex interfaces of Power BI and SAS Viya.

    Power BI
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    Comparison of Power BI and SAS Viya

    Data Connectivity

    Both Power BI and SAS Viya offer robust data connectivity options. They allow users to connect to various data sources, facilitating diverse analytical operations.

    Data Visualization

    Power BI and SAS Viya provide comprehensive data visualization capabilities. They enable users to create interactive visuals to enhance data comprehension and decision-making processes.

    Integration with Applications

    Power BI and SAS Viya can be integrated into everyday applications, allowing for seamless infusion of analytical insights into business workflows.

    Power BI
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    Power BI vs. SAS Viya

    Data Connectivity and Visualization

    Power BI excels in its capability to connect to virtually any data source, facilitating diverse and comprehensive data visualization. SAS Viya also offers robust data connectivity options but is traditionally associated with advanced analytics rather than a primary focus on visualization.

    Integration with Applications

    Power BI stands out for its ability to embed visuals into everyday applications, enhancing user interaction with data insights. SAS Viya, while it provides integration capabilities, is typically more focused on analytics and data processing workflows.


    Comparison of Power BI, SAS Viya, and Sourcetable

    Power BI Features

    Power BI is a business analytics tool that offers robust data connectivity and visualization capabilities. It is designed to help users connect to a wide variety of data sources and enables the creation of interactive visual reports. Power BI also integrates with everyday applications, allowing users to access visual analytics within their standard workflow.

    SAS Viya Features

    SAS Viya is an AI, analytic, and data management platform that provides advanced analytics with an emphasis on AI and machine learning. It supports coding in various languages such as SAS, Python, R, and Lua, and offers a cloud-ready architecture. SAS Viya focuses on creating a collaborative environment for data scientists and business analysts to build and deploy models.

    Sourcetable Features

    Sourcetable is a spreadsheet interface that connects to various data sources for real-time data analysis and reporting. It simplifies data manipulation and visualization for users who are familiar with spreadsheet applications, providing an intuitive environment for data analysis without the need for advanced technical skills.


  • Power BI focuses on data connectivity and visualization, enabling users to integrate visuals into applications they use daily.
  • SAS Viya emphasizes advanced analytics and machine learning with a collaborative platform for model development and deployment.
  • Sourcetable offers a user-friendly spreadsheet interface for real-time data analysis, targeting users comfortable with traditional spreadsheet tools.
  • Contrast

  • Power BI is well-suited for users looking for strong visualization and integration capabilities within their existing apps.
  • SAS Viya caters to users requiring advanced analytical and AI tools for complex data science projects.
  • Sourcetable is ideal for users seeking a straightforward, spreadsheet-like experience for data analysis without advanced technical requirements.
  • sourcetable

    Frequently Asked Questions About Sourcetable

    What is Sourcetable and who typically uses it?

    Sourcetable is a spreadsheet application that allows users to access data from most 3rd party applications, query data, and build live models. It is typically used by growth teams and business operations people.

    How does Sourcetable handle data updates?

    Sourcetable syncs data from over 100 applications and most databases. Data integrations update every 15 minutes on the regular plan and every 5 minutes on the pro plan. Models update automatically as data updates.

    Do I need to know how to code to use Sourcetable?

    No, Sourcetable does not require any coding to use.

    How much does Sourcetable cost?

    Sourcetable costs $50 per month for the starter plan and $250 per month for the pro plan. Additional seats cost $20 per month each. All plans include a 14-day free trial.

    How quickly can I start creating reports with Sourcetable?

    Users can start creating reports with Sourcetable within minutes.

    Power BI

    Power BI Pricing Overview

    • Individual User Subscriptions

      Power BI Pro is priced at $10 per user/month.

      Power BI Premium offers individual user subscriptions at $20 per user/month.

      Both can be purchased for self-service through the Microsoft 365 admin center or with a credit card.

    • Premium Capacity Subscriptions

      Power BI Premium per capacity starts at $4,995 per month for a P1 SKU.

      Equivalent Fabric SKUs such as F64 cost $5,002.67 per month initially, and $8,409.60 per month for the full SKU.

      For these SKUs, report consumption is available to all users without extra per-user licenses.

    • Autoscale and Add-ons

      Autoscale feature is priced at $85 per vCore/24hours.

      Add-on licenses are available at $10 per user/month.

    • Free Offerings

      Power BI Desktop, Power BI Embedded, and Power BI Mobile are available at no cost.

    • License Requirements

      A Power BI Pro license is required to publish Power BI content.

      Premium capacity and Fabric SKUs must be purchased through the Microsoft 365 admin center.

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    SAS Viya Cost

    SAS Viya is available for purchase on the Azure Marketplace. This allows for easy integration and deployment within Azure cloud environments.

    Power BI

    User Reviews of Power BI

    Power BI has been recognized as one of the best BI tools on the market according to user ratings and reviews from top business intelligence review websites. Users often highlight its self-service capabilities and the intuitive UI, which is particularly familiar to Microsoft users. Its short learning curve makes it a good choice for both experienced and new data analysts.

    • Key Features and Usability

    • Exceptional data visualization capabilities.
    • Highly intuitive UI that contributes to a short learning curve.
    • Seamless integration with Microsoft products, enhancing familiarity for users.
    • Connectivity and Integration

    • A wealth of data source connectors, including 74 data connectors.
    • Connectors such as MailChimp and Salesforce allow for diverse data incorporation.
    • Versions and Pricing

    • The availability of a free version, although with limited data storage and refresh cycles.
    • The Professional version, suited for enterprises, offers more data storage, faster refresh cycles, and collaboration features.
    • Publishing and Sharing

    • Power BI Publish to web feature enables users to publish reports and visualizations to the web, making them public.
    • Publish to web visualizations provide a platform for widespread data sharing.
    • Support and Development

    • Continuous improvement and development by several Microsoft teams.
    • Additional modules like Power BI Gateway - Personal for secure data transfer.
    • Overall, users appreciate Power BI for its powerful data visualization, simple data loading process, and customization options available from the Office Store. Microsoft Power BI is frequently noted as an Editors' Choice for self-service BI tools.


    In comparing Power BI and SAS Viya, it is evident that both platforms offer robust business intelligence capabilities, each with unique strengths.

    Power BI is recognized for its deep integration with Microsoft products and user-friendly interface, while SAS Viya offers advanced analytics and visualization features suited to more complex data environments.

    Sourcetable provides an alternative by offering real-time data syncing across various services within a user-friendly spreadsheet interface, streamlining the business intelligence process.

    Simplify Your BI Tooling

    Sourcetable is the AI spreadsheet that lets you analyze your data in one place. Get unlimited access free for 14 days.