Thursday, November 10, 2016

Setup SSRS 2016 with support for Power BI Desktop in VirtualBox

SSRS 2016 supporting Power BI Desktop reports is now in preview on Azure. But for many of us, we'd rather be able to review this in our own virtual environment, and more specifically - VirtualBox. We'll now you can. 

Our starting point was a blog posting my Microsoft employee Christopher Finlan outlining the steps needed to setup this preview in a Hyper-V environment. A great start, but what we wanted was the ability to run it Virtual Box. Fortunately for us, running the downloaded VHD in VirtualBox is much easier than Hyper-V.

Also see:  Upload Power BI Desktop .pbix to SSRS 2016

Overview of Steps


  • In Azure, create a new SSRS-PowerBI preview virtual machine
  • Download the Azure VHD
  • Create a new VirtualBox VM - without storage/virtual harddisk
  • Update the VM settings and add the downloaded VHD
  • Start the VM, log in, and add VirtualBox Guest Additions
  • Delete your Azure virtual image and both storage items
    - or pay about $5.00 a day in storage costs.  



Detailed Steps


Create a new Azure SSRS 2016 with Power BI Desktop support.


Rather than repeat what has been done - you can just follow the steps outlined on MSDN.   Keep a record of both the admin login name and the password.


Download the VHD for you newly created Azure image


Again, just follow the steps outlined by Christopher Finlan on his posting. We plan to use VirtualBox, so when following Finlan's steps, you only need to download the VHD.  After that, you can stop. Using VirtualBox, these is no need to do the other steps he has outlined to get it to work with Hyper-V.  We used Microsoft's Azure Storage Explorer to great success.


Make a VHD backup.  Personal choice, especially if you plan to delete the one on Azure.

Create a new VirtualBox machine


Here, create a new VirtualBox machine without a virtual harddisk.  The operating system is Windows Server 2012 R2.

And then update the configuration settings for your new VM

Start with these settings
  1. General - use defaults
  2. System
    1. Motherboard:  
      1. memory:  8+ GB, 
      2. floppy:     disable
      3. others:      go with defaults
    2. Processor:          4+
    3. All others:          use defaults
  3. Display                         use defaults
  4. Storage
    1. move your downloaded VHD to your newly created VM folder. Not required, but it helps to keep the folders well organized
    2. attach VBoxGuestAdditons.iso to the CD/DVD
  5. Audio - defaults  (disabled)
  6. Network - we use the bridged Adapter
  7. Serial Ports - defaults  (disabled)
  8. USB - use defaults (disabled)
  9. Shared folders - we usually hold off on this until we install Guest Additions
  10. User Interface - defaults


Start up the VM in VirtualBox

On first start-up, it takes several minutes. Login with your pre-configured admin login and password. After login, we were greeted with a Swap-file warning. Review the paging file settings, and adjust as necessary.





Install VirtualBox Guest Additions

While not necessary, adding Guest Additions allows us to use shared folders. A very nice plus.


Delete your Azure VM and both storage files

When created, the Azure VM sets up two storage files. The smaller +/- 133 GB VHD file you download. The other one is over 1 Terabyte.  Naturally, you do not need to delete them, but we found that but left on Azure - even if it is turned off, it will run you about $5.00 a day in storage costs.  


More about SSRS and Power BI Desktop reports


Upload Power BI Desktop .pbix to SSRS 2016



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