In my previous articles related to BI, we have explored extensively on Tableau and SAP Business Objects. While I continue the series, it would be unfair if I don’t cover another ’emerging’ solution – Microsoft Power BI (in fact it is a market leading BI solution already, refer to my post for 2017 BI trends here Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics)
Those who are familiar with Tableau will find themselves home with Power BI in many ways. However Power BI is unique in terms of features, the publish options, pricing and visualization options such as custom visualizations.
Power BI was completely cloud based solution until recently – i.e, until the release of Power BI Report Server in this month (June 2017). In the cloud based solution, you have to publish your visualizations to Power BI Service on cloud. You have alternative to Power BI desktop for development in the form of Power BI Service Web Interface which provides similar options for creating and customizing visualizations.
I have sketched a high level cloud based (Power BI Service) implementation architecture below connecting to on-premises database to understand the different components better.
The implementation architecture below shows the on-premises solution using Power BI Report Server. In this implementation, development and publishing do not require cloud. Note that the development require installation of custom release version of Power BI Desktop (Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server)
In terms of connectivity, Power BI can connect to almost every data source. However the type and location of data should decide your design and type of connectivity.
On-Premises Database connectivity from Power BI Service : If you have an on-premises database, Power BI service allows the connectivity using gateways. The options are (a) data imported to Power BI service or (b) use direct query or live connections. We will explore these implementation models in detail in the upcoming articles.
Custom Visuals : This is really great feature that Microsoft lets Power BI developers to create and publish their custom visualizations which can be added to your visualization tray and integrate with your reports/dashboards. Thanks for the support to creativity from developer community.
R Integration to Power BI : Similar to Tableau R integration, we can connect to R for performing complex predictive analysis.
I will cover R integration details and many more in upcoming posts.