Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Power BI connections: Personal Gateway or Analysis Services Connector

You have your Power BI account, you've  looked over the samples and created a few reports with static data from Excel and a few flat files. Now you want to make the next step and start using data from your organizations data warehouse and tabular databases.  But you've noticed that there seems to be more than one tool to make the connection.  But which tool, if any do you need? Or do you even need them at all? Earlier you created a report using data pulled from a networked SQL Server, all without installing either the Personal Gateway or the Analysis Services Connector. So, which is it?  The Power BI Personal Gateway, the Analysis Services Connector, both or neither?

Personal Gateway vs. Analysis Services Connector

A good way to think of the Personal Gateway is that it allows your reports, on your Power BI portal to connect to the organization's data warehouses and other supported databases and systems. The Analysis Services Connector, on the other hand, connects a single SSAS tabular server to all the Power BI users (who have access permission, naturally).

Personal Gateway
The most natural location to install your Personal Gateway is on your computer. Key things to consider:
  • It cannot be installed on the same computer as the Analysis Services Connector
  • The Personal Gateway runs on a computer you control. it is for your reports alone
  • It must be up and running to support a refresh. So the computer where it is installed must be up and running.
  • It's used for on-premise data sources, except tabular servers
  • Installation: Runs as a service if installed by an administrator. Otherwise, it must be started like an application. So try to get your administrator to set it up for you.
  • If you want to refresh your data from on-premise data sources, you need to install the Personal Gateway
  • It's only supported on 64 bit Windows operating systems (including Windows 10)
  • MS Power BI Support:Power BI Personal Gateway

Analysis Services Connector

The most elegant approach for installing the Analysis Services Connector is to install it on the same server running the SSAS tabular server.Key things to consider:
  • It cannot be installed on the same computer as the Personal Gateway
  • The Connector is mapped to a single Analysis Services server. So for every tabular server you want to use, you need to install and configure an Analysis Services Connector
  • It can run on any domain computer, but ideally it can be installed on the tabular server
  • Only supports SSAS tabular models at this time
  • MS Power BI Support: 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Power BI 2.0: Reasons to upgrade to Power BI Desktop

In an earlier post, we discussed that with the general availability (GA) of Power BI 2.0, that the preview Power BI Designer had been replaced with Power BI Desktop. But besides a new name and some color changes, is there any reason to upgrade?

Absolutely!  Here, are a few of the new features that have been added to the Power BI 2.0 Desktop.  And, while I cannot confirm it, I have heard that it is now available in both a 64 bit and a 32 bit version.

Figure 1:  New Visualizations, including the very nice waterfall chart. (Comparison of the waterfall chart with the line and column charts)

Figure 2: Add a company logo, a report title or summary text with the text and image insert tools.

Figure 3: In the preview designer, customizing reports was near impossible. 
Now, you can control the  graph legends, title, data labels, and colors.

Figure 4:  You can even control colors down to the field level.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Power BI 2.0: Upgrading to the Power BI Desktop

With the general availability release of Power BI 2.0 on July 24, 2015, preview users will want to upgrade from the preview release of Power BI Designer to the latest Power BI Desktop.

Over the last several months, Microsoft has issued several updates to the Power BI Designer, all with an included time stamp in the installer package file.  The latest was PBIDesigner_x64_20150517.msi.
September 23, 2015, Microsoft released an updated Desktop.  Power BI Desktop is now available as download, with the file name of PBIDesktop_x64.msi. After logging into Power BI, simply use the download option, to download the new Power BI Desktop.

Figure 1: Download

During installation, it will remove the earlier version of Power BI Designer. Icon colors have changed to gold and black from the initial green and white. The interface has also been updated to better match the changes they made this week to the website prior to release.

Figure 2:  Improved Power BI Desktop layout

Figure 3:  The earlier Power BI Designer layout

First Look - Power BI 2.0

Yesterday, July 24, 2015, Microsoft announced the general availability of the updated Power BI. While release 1.0 of Power BI was available only to users of Office 365, Power BI 2.0 is open to all. And the basic subscription price is free, while the Pro version only $9.99/month per person.

It's a great tool, and with the latest release, could become the game changer for to the self-service business intelligence market. Excel users will appreciate the integration with Excel, but unlike the first release, you do not need to install any plug-ins. And power users with direct access to the company data warehouse can setup automatic refreshes to the reports and dashboards you have shared with your colleagues. You can ready my in-depth review online at Redmond Magazine First Look Power BI 2.0.