What is Power BI?
Microsoft Power BI is a cloud based self-service BI solution for the enterprise. It works from within Excel and Office 365. It allows users to get insight into virtually any type of data, and ability to interact with your charts, graphs and reports. It also serves as the “portal” or site for publishing, managing and sharing your BI reports and dashboards.
Power BI provides capabilities that can be leveraged by people with all level of skills including data analyst, power users, business users, data stewards and folks from the IT department.
Power Bi Evolution
The first release of Power BI, Power BI for Office 365, was launched in February 2014 as a cloud service to simplify the deployment and maintenance of the back-end servers. This initial Power BI release did not include support SQL Server Reporting Services or Analysis Services and, like the on-premises version, offered a limited set of capabilities and a disjointed workflow between components.
The new release of Power BI, which became available in July 2015, addressed the above challenges with
- Stand-alone, free, desktop authoring interface, independent of Excel Power BI Desktop so users can develop analytic content locally without license cost. It unified and streamlined the three distinct interfaces and capabilities of Power Query, PowerPivot and Power View.
- Access to on-premises enterprise data stored in SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) — tabular and multidimensional models
Soon to be released Excel 2016 will embed BI components rather than incorporate the capabilities through add-ons. Although Microsoft has indicated to Gartner that it is making significant investments in on-premises solutions that integrate with Power BI, it does not at the moment have an on-premises Microsoft solution for distributing Power BI content. Instead, it has initially partnered with Pyramid Analytics for customers that require on-premises publishing. There are plans to support the publishing of SQL Server Reporting Services and Datazen content in Power BI dashboards in a near-term future release.
Power BI Tools
- Power Query. To search, discover, acquire, combine, refine, transform and enrich data. Simplified ETL tool built into your familiar Excel to search or discover data from a wide variety of data sources including local to enterprise as well as from online public data sources
- Power Pivot. To create a data model on large amounts of data from virtually any source, define relationships for tables, create measures, KPIs, hierarchies etc. Power Pivot uses xVelocity in-memory engine for lightning fast analytic performance and empowers Excel users for powerful data analysis. With the use of Power Pivot, data exploration and mash ups of the model become so much easier. Model can be exposed to Power View as a report ready element for analysis and to get data insights.
- Power View. Power View allows end users to explore data in new ways to uncover hidden insights and bring data to life with interactive visualization. Power View is also available as a feature in SharePoint Server 2010 and SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise Edition as part of the SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 Reporting Services Add-in.
- Power Map. Extends the capability of Power View by enabling end users to visualize data in 3D visualization format. It plots geographical and temporal data visually, analyze it in 3D visualization format and create an interactive, guided cinematic tour to discover new insights by seeing your data in geographic space and seeing time-stamped data change over time and to share it with others.