Microsoft first introduced Power BI at WPC (Worldwide Partner Conference) in July 2013. It has been a demonstrated game changer in the BI space with several key features:
- Cloud service for publishing (based on SharePoint in Office 365, hence the name Power BI for Office 365 that is used as a title for the first version of this offering, and including Q&A, a service allowing to query your data in just the natural language)
- On-premises tools (most of them being Excel add-ins, including: Power View for advanced visualizations, Power Map extending Power View for 3D map visualizations, and Power Query to get and structure data sets )
- Leveraging in-memory data modeling for large datasets (with Power Pivot)
- Data Management Gateway, which allows connection to internal data to the previous Cloud Services, in a typical hybrid way.
For a complete description of this current offering, click to Power BI – Getting Started Guide.
The figure below shows how Microsoft positions this offering (versus previous BI tools waves).
In March 2015, Microsoft introduced a new version (or experience) of Power BI called Power BI 2.0, with an identical objective:
- No more SharePoint integration, so reports and dashboards are now accessible via an online service, accessible at http://powerbi.com/ where you can also get new datasets, create reports, dashboards and publish them:
- Integration of the modules that were previously clearly identified. For example:
- Power BI Designer includes Power Query, Power View, Power Pivot
- Power BI the site, relies on Power View and Power Pivot and integrates Q & A
- New mobile apps for Windows Store and Apple Store.
So the approach is clearly simplified. Here is a typical process using Power BI:
On July 10, 2015, the Power BI Team made the following announcements on its blog:
- Power BI 2.0 will be generally available on July 24, 2015.
- This supersedes the Power BI for Office 365 service (“Power BI 1.0”), which Microsoft will continue to operate during a transition period as users migrate to the updated service.
- Power BI Designer has been renamed Power BI Desktop.
- It will include several enhancements: new data visualizations, new visualization formatting, new data sources, and direct connection to SQL Server Analysis Services tabular models.
- Power BI web authoring tool will be upgraded accordingly.
- Power BI Content Packs will be extended with:
- New providers
- A new way to create Organizational Content Packs to share a model inside your organization
- Power BI will support Office 365 Groups.
- Direct connectivity to Apache Spark (especially suited for big data scenarios—query performance over a Hadoop dataset can be 100 times faster with Spark).
- A Power BI mobile app for Android is available right now, adding to the existing mobile support for iPhone, iPad and Windows devices.
So, here is my summary of the Power BI roadmap:
You can find Patrick's other articles in this series on [ #Office365] Power BI 2.0:
- The big picture (this original article)
- Architectural aspects
- More on data sources
- More on Power BI mobile apps
- The gateways