Overview: The Semantic Layer

The Semantic Layer is where you create area-specific data models and push them out to your desired font-end tool. Enabling easy, self-service access to relevant data across multiple platforms.

Enabling more access to data through Ease of use.

The modeling capabilities in the Semantic Layer provide department or purpose-specific models of your data using terms and definitions that business users understand. This allows for fast creation and flexible modification of dashboards and reports. Because a single model is created once, then deployed to multiple front end solutions, users get the same fields and figures regardless if they are using Power BI, Tableau, or Qlik.

Key Info

  • The Semantic Layer takes the large number of tables and fields available in the MDW and simplifies it for area-specific uses.
  • Typically, models are based on departments or business processes such as Sales, Marketing, Finance etc. With the tables, fields, and relationships pre-configured for immediate data driven insights.
  • The Semantic Layer is similar to the traditional concept of Data Marts. The key difference here is that all data is sourced from the MDW's "single version of the truth". So semantic models that share data, will be sure to obtain the same values.
  • These models are one piece of the discovery hub's "portfolio" of data outlet's, so users that need more data can easily browse the MDW or ODX to discover more answers easily.


While Semantic layer models are created once, each model can be deployed to any, or all, of the following endpoints.

SQL Server Analysis Service Tabular, which uses the same in-memory analytics engine as PowerBI, making it the ideal location for data models when using Power BI as your front end solution.

The Tableau Endpoint generates a Tableau Data Source (.tds) file. This file includes all the necessary fields and relations enabling users to immediately begin developing powerful dashboards in Tableau Desktop, or upload the data source to Tableau Server or Tableau Online.

Qlik models can be deployed directly to QlikView, QlikSense Desktop or QlikSense Server. Complete with all the scripts necessary to generate QVDs and create a complete data model, Qlik users can easily create dashboards on complex data without having to write any Qlik script.