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Making Sense of
Microsoft’s Sprawling, Shifting
Business Intelligence Offering
Power BI & Beyond
September 2017 Overview
What’s in this presentation: bringing clarity to
crowded field of products, architectural choices
• Microsoft’s BI offerin...
How We Got There
And why should I care?
Microsoft has been in the BI space for a long time with a “traditional IT”
focus
•...
Exec Summary: Lots to Like, Some Drawbacks
Strengths
• The broadest BI/DB stack of any
vendor, with individual components
...
Products
& Licensing
Components of the “Power Stack”
Self-service BI, Workflows, Apps
Software Platform What General availability Notes
Excel 2...
Sub-components of the “Power Stack”
Two common core technologies and user experiences
Subcomponent /
Software
Function Exc...
Licensing
This is Microsoft, ergo cannot be simple
Software Platform Office 365 Dynamics 365 Separate license Notes
Excel ...
ETL
Power Query
Model
Power Pivot
Data
JSON
CSV, Excel
Streaming datasets
Sources
Databases
APIs/SaaS
Files
View
Pivot Tab...
Connection Inception: How Stack Pieces Interact
Source(s) Destination What How Notes
Excel Desktop PBI Service Queries
Wor...
Confusion Infusion: MSFT Loves to Move, Rename Features
Excel 2010: It’s Coming from the SQL Team, So Let’s Hide It
• Powe...
Great Momentum, But Uneven Features Between Products
• Streaming datasets launched Jan. 2017 in PBI Service, not available...
Even More Caveats: “Pulling a Microsoft”
Some questionable choices
More Open but Still Somewhat MSFT-centric
• Authoring l...
Clarifying the
Power BI offering
Power BI Desktop vs. powerbi.com cloud service
Two concepts that look similar but complement each other
Functionality Desk...
Reports vs. Dashboards
Two concepts that look similar but complement each other
Functionality Reports Dashboards
Multiple ...
Power BI Report Server
Power BI on Premises, with Strings Attached
Functionality Powerbi.com Power BI Report Server
Licens...
BI Architecture
Mix & Match On Premises & Cloud
PBI Enterprise Gateway
Gateway: 1 Installer, 2 Modes
GATEWAY (PERSONAL MODE)
Mode (Choose on Install) On-premises data
gateway
Personal
installat...
Enterprise Offering Continues to Evolve in Parallel
Increasingly Integrates, Blends with Self-Service
• SQL Server Integra...
Tabular or Multidimensional: PBI + SSAS
Tabular Multidimensional
Available since SQL Server 2012 SQL Server 2000
Licensing...
SSAS & SSRS Coexist with PBI
PBI-SQL Connection Types
Choose were storage and modeling happen
Connection type Data storage Data
modeling
Refreshing Not...
Mix & Match On Premises & Cloud
Services galore
Service On premises Cloud
Database (OLTP), Data Sync SQL Server Azure SQL,...
BI Development
BI & DB Languages
Sorting out the alphabet soup
Language Sinc
e
About MSFT Support Strengths / purpose
T-SQL (Transact
Str...
Power BI Development Options
• Power BI REST API
1. Push datasets/tables/rows into PBI model in language of your choice
2....
The Complete Desktop Toolset for the MSFT BI Analyst
Most of that stuff is free!
“Self service”
• PBI Desktop
• Custom cha...
What’s Next?
What Will This Look Like in 2019?
Disrupting Tableau’s momentum?
About these slides
Tech + data to meet business goals
I’m an entrepreneur and consultant working at the intersection of
bu...
Microsoft Power Stack 2019 [Power BI, Excel, Azure & Friends]
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Microsoft Power Stack 2019 [Power BI, Excel, Azure & Friends]

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[Latest update: March 2019] Making sense of Microsoft's renewed push in the business intelligence sector with:

- Power BI including Power BI Report Server, Premium, Embedded, APIs...
- Excel
- Flow, PowerApps. SharePoint, Teams
- SQL Server
- Azure IaaS / PaaS / SaaS

I have put an inordinate amount of research time to keep this presentation up to date since its original publication in February 2017. The latest version is available upon request for a reasonable fee and for my consulting clients, don't hesitate to contact me to discuss your project.

Olivier Travers
olivier@needlestacker.com

Published in: Business
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Microsoft Power Stack 2019 [Power BI, Excel, Azure & Friends]

  1. 1. Making Sense of Microsoft’s Sprawling, Shifting Business Intelligence Offering Power BI & Beyond September 2017 Overview
  2. 2. What’s in this presentation: bringing clarity to crowded field of products, architectural choices • Microsoft’s BI offering • Historical perspective and dynamics • Strengths & Weaknesses • Shared Assets: Power Query, Power Pivot • Products & Licensing • SKUs & Pricing • Components & Integration Points • Hope you liked Inception • Development Options & Languages • DAX, M, MDX, R, T-SQL… • Clarifying seemingly competing options • Client BI tools: Power BI vs. Excel • Cloud or On premises: Power BI Desktop vs. Cloud services vs. Power BI Report Server vs. PBI Gateways • Reporting UIs: Power BI Reports vs. Dashboards • Connection types: Import vs. DirectQuery vs. Live Connection • Data models: Tabular vs. Multidimensional • BI approach: self-service and/or Enterprise IT • Plenty of supporting hyperlinks (in slides and footer notes)
  3. 3. How We Got There And why should I care? Microsoft has been in the BI space for a long time with a “traditional IT” focus • Think SQL, OLAP, multi-dimensional, enterprise IT, data warehouses Circa 2007-14 MSFT seemed to leave the world move to SaaS without putting much of a fight • They let the likes of Salesforce, Google, or Tableau, make them look old and irrelevant And lots of moving parts took time to mature and gel • Power Pivot was first launched in 2009 but was relegated to add-in status until Excel 2016 • Power View/Silverlight dead-end (mobile anyone?) But since 2015 there has been a strong move to inexpensive yet powerful desktop + cloud + mobile services for business users • Think tabular, spreadsheets, SaaS, end-user friendly, within reach of smaller teams without requiring IT Come 2017: still work in progress, but a compelling offer • Strong momentum behind Power BI (PBI) makes it unlikely they will drop the ball, so worth investing into its vision • Good old Excel has become a formidable yet more accessible tool, aka “Modern Excel” “Windows Only”
  4. 4. Exec Summary: Lots to Like, Some Drawbacks Strengths • The broadest BI/DB stack of any vendor, with individual components strong in their own right. • Builds up on established leading products (Excel, O365, SQL Server, Azure). • Vibrant product development, iterative and interactive. • Strong user community, support, learning material. • Easy and cheap to get started. Weaknesses • Hard to keep up with all the moving parts and updates! • Still somewhat Microsoft-centric, but much less so than in the past. • Not as good as Tableau for more sophisticated interactive charts. • A lot of stuff still in beta/incomplete. Needs another 12-18 months of maturation. • Licensing can get complicated, some market segments feel neglected.
  5. 5. Products & Licensing
  6. 6. Components of the “Power Stack” Self-service BI, Workflows, Apps Software Platform What General availability Notes Excel 2016 Windows Spreadsheets Data models Viz September 2015 Until Excel 2013 (included), Power Query and Power Pivot were separate add-ins Power BI Desktop Windows Data models Viz July 2015 Authoring tool formerly known as Power BI Designer Power BI Service Cloud Viz July 2015 SaaS Power BI Mobile iOS, Android, Windows Viz July 2015 Native mobile apps PBI API PBI Embedded Cloud Integration July 2015 January 2017 Embedded merged into Premium in mid- 2017 Flow Cloud, iOS, Android Inter-app workflows & integration October 2016 Think SaaS glued with Zapier, IFTTT, i.e. “Lotus Notes for the cloud.” PowerApps Cloud Windows Visual app designer October 2016 Think Force.com “low code”, i.e. Access/VB for the cloud. PowerApps plans include Flow. OneDrive for Business Cloud Windows Mobile Cloud file sync February 2014 Think Sharepoint SaaS. Allows auto- refresh of desktop Excel files into cloud PBI.
  7. 7. Sub-components of the “Power Stack” Two common core technologies and user experiences Subcomponent / Software Function Excel Power BI SQL Server Azure Common Data Service Power Query ETL Y Y SSDT 2017 Yes Power Pivot Data modeling Y Y SSAS Analysis Services
  8. 8. Licensing This is Microsoft, ergo cannot be simple Software Platform Office 365 Dynamics 365 Separate license Notes Excel 2016 Windows (no PQ/PP in Mac version) • (Limited PQ/PP in Business plans) • ProPlus ($12/u/mo) • Enterprise E3-E5 ($20-$35/u/mo) n/a Office 2016 perpetual license (i.e. not a subscription) • O365 business plans • New ways to get the Excel business analytics features you need Power BI Desktop Windows n/a n/a Free download Power BI Service Cloud Enterprise E5 n/a • Free • Pro ($9.99/u/mo) • Premium P1/P2/P3 ($5K+/mo) • Pricing • Premium cost planner Power BI Report Server Windows Server On premises n/a n/a • Premium P1/P2/P3 ($5K+/mo) • SQL Server Enterprise Edition with Software Assurance Introducing PBI RS Power BI Mobile iOS, Android, Windows n/a n/a Free downloads PBI Embedded Cloud n/a n/a Premium EM1/EM2/EM3 ($625+/mo) Embedded pricing Flow Cloud, iOS, Android • Business Essentials/Premium • Education / Education Plus • Enterprise E1/E2, E3/E4, E5, K1 (restricted) • Enterprise: Sales, CS, Ops, FS, PSA, TM, Plan 1/2 • Business: Financials, TM • CRM • Free: 750 runs, 15mn checks • (O365 base plan: 2K runs, 5mn checks) • Plan 1: 4.5K runs, 3mn checks ($5/u/mo) • Plan 2: 15K runs, 1mn checks, admin ($15/u/mo) • All PowerApps plans Pricing PowerApps Cloud, Windows • Free Community plan • (O365 base plan) • Plan 1: premium connectors, use CDS apps ($7/u/mo) • Plan 2: admin + build CDS apps ($40/u/mo) • Pricing • Licensing Overview OneDrive for Business Cloud Windows Mobile • Business / Essentials ($5/u/mo) / Premium: Plan 1 • ProPlus: Plan 1 • Enterprise E1: Plan 1 • Enterprise E3-E5: Plan 2 • Plan 1: 1TB/user ($5/u/mo) • Plan 2: 5+TB/user, data loss prevention ($10/u/mo) Pricing
  9. 9. ETL Power Query Model Power Pivot Data JSON CSV, Excel Streaming datasets Sources Databases APIs/SaaS Files View Pivot Tables Pivot Charts (Power View) View Reports Dashboards Other apps/sites Get, Combine, Transform, Model, Visualize & Share Data with the Power Stack public web
  10. 10. Connection Inception: How Stack Pieces Interact Source(s) Destination What How Notes Excel Desktop PBI Service Queries Workbooks Data Catalog Publish to PBI PBI Pro subscription needed. PBI publisher for Excel needed. Excel Desktop PBI Desktop Queries, Data, Data models, worksheets Import Power Query queries, Power Pivot models and Power View worksheets. Excel Desktop PBI Desktop PBI Service Data model Local/LAN via PBI Gateway Need a gateway to refresh datasets that get data from on-premise data sources. PBI Pro subscription needed. Excel Desktop PBI Desktop PBI Service Data model Cloud via OneDrive, Sharepoint Online Any data you’ve loaded into your file’s model is imported into the dataset and any reports you’ve created in the file are loaded into Reports in PBI. Changes to your file on OneDrive will be updated in PBI too, usually within about an hour. PBI Desktop Excel Desktop Data model Analyze in Excel, Use PBI Desktop as a local server Since users will need to refresh the dataset, and refresh for external connections is not supported in Excel Online, it’s recommended that users open the workbook in the desktop version of Excel on their computer. Excel Desktop, PBI Desktop, PBI Service 3rd-party Apps Dataset PBI REST API You can import pbix and xlsx files stored on OneDrive via the API. PBI Service PBI Desktop, Excel Desktop Dataset Connect to datasets (live connection) , Analyze in Excel Reusing datasets PBI Service 3rd-party Apps Viz PBI Embedded PBI Service 3rd-party Apps Data alerts Flow Notification triggers. PBI API PBI Service Datasets, reports, dashboards API calls PowerApps PBI Apps PA/PBI interop Embed PowerApps within PBI dashboards + Embed PBI tiles into PowerApps apps Common Data Service PBI, PowerApps, Data model Common Data Excel support via add-in.
  11. 11. Confusion Infusion: MSFT Loves to Move, Rename Features Excel 2010: It’s Coming from the SQL Team, So Let’s Hide It • PowerPivot introduced as an Excel add-in, common engine with SSAS Tabular • In-memory engine introduced as Vertipaq then rebranded to xVelocity, because why not? Excel 2013: Moving Sideways • Power Pivot (now with a space, no product name can be left untouched!) remain as an add-in • Introduction of Power View and Power Map based on Silverlight dead end • Introduction of Data Explorer then rebranded as Power Query (notice a trend here?) Excel 2016: Finally Embracing the Power • Power Pivot is its own ribbon tab but also accessible from Data > Manage Data Model • Power Query renamed as Get & Transform • Power View hidden though still available, Power Map renamed to 3D Maps • Old way to get external data continued to coexist with Get & Transform until March 2017 Power BI Desktop: There Can Be Only One Power Something • Power Query found as Home > Get Data (but some documentation does talk about “Power Query”) • Power Pivot found as the Modeling ribbon tab (let’s not name it “Power Pivot” because it might look familiar to Excel users) PBI Service: Office Or Not? • “Power BI for Office 365” was an older version of the service using Excel (with Power View/Map) for authoring and was deprecated at the end of 2015. But powerbi.com user management continues to rely on O365. Azure: What’s Up with That? • Retirement of DataMarket, Data Services, Reporting Services • Planned merger of PBI’s data catalog with Azure Data Catalog
  12. 12. Great Momentum, But Uneven Features Between Products • Streaming datasets launched Jan. 2017 in PBI Service, not available in PBI Desktop • Can’t print or export to PPT from PBI Desktop • Some mapping features only available in Desktop (ARCGIS) or Service (aerial basemap) • Many online services and CDM as a native Source in PBI but not (yet?) in Excel 2016 • Calculated Tables, Bidirectional cross filtering available in PBI Desktop, not in Excel 2016 • Some UX pieces offer better QoL to author DAX in Excel than Power BI • OneDrive listed under Get Data > Files in PBI Service, but not Desktop • Some objects such as Hierarchies recognized in Excel’s data models but not in PBI Desktop • Excel imports/exports M queries to ODC files but PBI Desktop doesn’t • No Dashboards and no natural language Q&A in PBI Desktop / PBI Report Server • Need to install a separate “PBI Desktop for Report Server” for On Premises work • SSDT in VS2017 not available at launch Don’t despair: lots of monthly updates, many parts still in beta/preview (e.g. most SaaS connectors)
  13. 13. Even More Caveats: “Pulling a Microsoft” Some questionable choices More Open but Still Somewhat MSFT-centric • Authoring limited to Windows and to a smaller extent browser • No Mac desktop • Flow/PowerApps connectors still focused on MSFT world • SQL, Sharepoint, Azure Abrupt & Enterprise-Focused Licensing Changes • Changes to Free/Pro announced out of the blue within less than a month of their enactment • 1-year free Pro trial thrown in to help you stomach it • PBI Premium starts at $5K/mo • Makes sense only from 500+ users • Forced migration from PBI Embedded (Premium Embedded pricing starts at $625/mo) • Why tie PBI Report Server to PBI Premium and SQL Server Enterprise with Software Assurance? • SMEs and ISVs Might Want On-Premises PBI…
  14. 14. Clarifying the Power BI offering
  15. 15. Power BI Desktop vs. powerbi.com cloud service Two concepts that look similar but complement each other Functionality Desktop Cloud Positioning Authoring tool for analysts Consuming & Sharing tool for end users Data sets Yes Yes Reports Yes Yes ETL (Power Query) Yes No Data modeling (Power Query) Yes No Visualization Yes Yes Data access based on row level security No, as a report author you get access to the whole data source Yes Dashboards No Yes Export to PPT No Yes Print No Yes Controlled sharing Not really (you can share the whole .pbix file) Yes
  16. 16. Reports vs. Dashboards Two concepts that look similar but complement each other Functionality Reports Dashboards Multiple pages/tabs Yes No Drill down/up, Expand, See Data Yes No Publish to web Yes No Slicers Yes No (unless you pin the whole page from a report) Export to PPT Yes No Print Yes Yes Subscribe Yes Yes Automatic refresh No Yes Q&A No Yes Alerts No Yes Featured No Yes Favorite No Yes Sharing No Yes Web/phone view No Yes
  17. 17. Power BI Report Server Power BI on Premises, with Strings Attached Functionality Powerbi.com Power BI Report Server Licensing Flexible and starts cheap Inflexible and expensive (enterprise only) Updates Monthly 3x a year (server and authoring client) Authoring client Power BI Desktop Separate PBI Desktop version Variety of data sources Yes No, only SSAS live connection (more currently in August Preview) Dashboards Yes No (only reports) R Visuals Yes No On premises No Yes (well, it’s got that going for it)
  18. 18. BI Architecture
  19. 19. Mix & Match On Premises & Cloud PBI Enterprise Gateway
  20. 20. Gateway: 1 Installer, 2 Modes GATEWAY (PERSONAL MODE) Mode (Choose on Install) On-premises data gateway Personal installation Cloud services it works with Power BI, PowerApps, Azure Logic Apps, Microsoft Flow Power BI Runs as an app for users who aren't administrators on the computer • Runs as a single user with your credentials • Import data and set up scheduled refresh • • Support for DirectQuery to SQL Server, Oracle, Teradata • Support for a live connection to Analysis Services • Serves multiple users with access control per data source • Monitoring and auditing for gateway and data sources Coming soon
  21. 21. Enterprise Offering Continues to Evolve in Parallel Increasingly Integrates, Blends with Self-Service • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) • Enterprise ETL • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) • Think of SSAS Tabular as “PowerPivot Enterprise Server”, i.e. modeling tool • “Live Connection” option in PBI: no need to import data but faster than Direct Query • PBI can query SSAS Tabular and SSAS MD • Models can be imported from PBI Desktop • SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) • Now supports DAX queries against SSAS • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) & PBI Report Server • Focus on On-Premises, pixel-perfect/print static reports • Paginated reports and Mobile reports can be pinned in PBI dashboards • PBI reports can be put in SSRS dashboards • PBI RS is basically a superset of SSRS • SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) • Now has a DAX query editor
  22. 22. Tabular or Multidimensional: PBI + SSAS Tabular Multidimensional Available since SQL Server 2012 SQL Server 2000 Licensing SQL Express and above, PBI, Excel SQL Server Enterprise Modeling constructs Relational: model, tables, columns OLAP: cubes, dimensions, measures Languages DAX calculations, DAX queries, MDX queries MDX calculations, DAX queries, MDX queries M Expressions Yes No Calculated measures, columns, tables Yes Calculated members Actions No Yes Aggregations No Yes Custom Assemblies No Yes Custom Rollups No Yes Default Member No Yes Display folders No Yes Hierarchies Yes Yes KPIs Yes Yes Many-to-many relationships No Yes Writeback No Yes Compression vs. original data size Can go down to 10% About 30% Sources Largest variety Only relational databases Database size MD used to be needed for the largest projects but Tabular is catching up
  23. 23. SSAS & SSRS Coexist with PBI
  24. 24. PBI-SQL Connection Types Choose were storage and modeling happen Connection type Data storage Data modeling Refreshing Notes Import Data loaded in PBI’s in- memory engine PBI • Scheduled refreshes (every 15 minutes or more) • Limited to 1GB dataset and 10GB of data in cloud service • Can’t change connection type Direct Query Data remains in the source SQL database • Data is pushed via the Enterprise Gateway • You can schedule cache refreshes • Pinned tiles are automatically refreshed every 10 minutes • Can change connection type • No Quick Measures • No calculated columns • Can’t create hierarchies • Can’t connect to several sources • Can’t create relationships between tables • Can’t change connection type • Most scalable solution Live Connection SSAS
  25. 25. Mix & Match On Premises & Cloud Services galore Service On premises Cloud Database (OLTP), Data Sync SQL Server Azure SQL, Azure Data Sync Data warehouse SQL Server Azure SQL Data Warehouse Data Modeling SSAS Azure Analysis Services, PBI ETL SSIS Azure Data Factory, PBI, Future Power Query SaaS stand-alone Reporting PBI RS, SSRS PBI And more… IaaS: SQL in Azure VMs PaaS: Azure Storage, HDInsight, Data Lake, Event Hubs, Stream Analytics
  26. 26. BI Development
  27. 27. BI & DB Languages Sorting out the alphabet soup Language Sinc e About MSFT Support Strengths / purpose T-SQL (Transact Structured Query Language) 1974 (SQL) Query language for relational databases. SQL Server Work with individual rows and row sets. MDX (Multidimensional eXpressions) 1997 Query language for OLAP databases. SQL Server, PBI Desktop Query data tubes. Powerful. DMX (Data Mining Extensions) 1999 Query language for SSAS data mining models. SQL Server, Excel Syntax looks like SQL. DAX (Data Analysis eXpressions) 2009 Data modeling language introduced with PowerPivot. SSAS, Excel, PBI, DAX Studio, DAX Editor Calculate dynamic aggregates with Excel-like function syntax. Flexible and versatile. M 2010 Functional language introduced with Power Query. Excel, PBI ETL LINQ (Language Integrated Query) 2007 Query language for .NET languages. Visual Studio: C#, F#, VB.NET R 1993 Statistical and graphical language. Open source but embraced by Microsoft. Excel, PBI, SQL Server, Visual Studio, R Server & Client Stats (e.g. regression analysis), LOTS of extensions, good charting. Python 1991 Programming language popular with data scientists SQL Server 2017 The most general purpose language in this table. Good to handle text.
  28. 28. Power BI Development Options • Power BI REST API 1. Push datasets/tables/rows into PBI model in language of your choice 2. Trigger data refreshes 3. Embed dashboards in your app (now using the same API) • Custom visuals • TypeScript / CSS / D3 • Data Connector SDK / Cloud content packs • PowerApps + Flow • Form-based “no code” apps embedded in Power BI dashboards • Visual workflows using PBI alerts as triggers; pushing data to PBI datasets • R: ETL and Charting 1. Load an R script as a data source 2. Run an R script as a Power Query step 3. Plot an R visual (including using libraries such as ggplot2) 4. Create an R-based custom visual (including using Plotly) • VBA • Publish Excel workbook to PBI
  29. 29. The Complete Desktop Toolset for the MSFT BI Analyst Most of that stuff is free! “Self service” • PBI Desktop • Custom charts • Content packs • Themes • Personal Gateway • Excel 2016 (ProPlus, Office Insider) • PBI Publisher for Excel • Analytics Edge • SQL Server Express • SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio) • Advanced Services (subset of SSRS, not sure about SSIS) • OneDrive • DAX Studio • R Studio “Enterprise” • PBI Desktop • On-premises Enterprise Gateway • SQL Server Dev Edition • SSAS • SSIS • SSRS • MDS (Master Data Services) for SSMS • VisualStudio • SSDT • R Tools • DAX Editor • Power Update
  30. 30. What’s Next?
  31. 31. What Will This Look Like in 2019? Disrupting Tableau’s momentum?
  32. 32. About these slides Tech + data to meet business goals I’m an entrepreneur and consultant working at the intersection of business and technology, with a background in sales and marketing. I use Excel and PowerBI to integrate analytics from many sources such as Google Analytics or Salesforce.com. Feel free to contact me if you need help choosing your BI tools, planning your business intelligence project, or creating your dashboards. I’m maintaining and improving this presentation as I learn more and the offering evolves. Did this presentation help you? How can I improve it? Your feedback is appreciated. To contact me: • Blog • LinkedIn • Twitter • olivier@needlestacker.com Olivier Travers

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