Watch the official video on Power BI

PowerBI (still in Preview mode) is Microsoft self-service business intelligence solutions for Office 365 that includes features like Excel 2013 – Power Pivot, Power View, Power Query and Power Map on SharePoint 2013 environment.

PowerBI in-short is a Cloud based BI service that can have multiple data source. The data source can be on cloud like Azure, OData feeds or can be in-premise which is exposed as data feed using Data Management Gateway for PowerBI. See below for the data source list.

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Can I have PowerBI on in-premise SharePoint?

No, PowerBI is not available on in-premise version of SharePoint. It is part of Office 365 Subscription or can be bought Standalone.

If you want it with Office 365, then it is an add-on for E3/E4 plan subscriber. You can also try PowerBI for a month before buying it from http://www.powerbi.com/

How it is different from in-premise SharePoint BI?

Being a cloud based service you cannot have all the features of SharePoint BI which is available for in-premise for example reporting service, PPS etc. However, PowerBI standout because of following reasons:

  1. Power Query Sharing
  2. Data Catalog and Data Search
  3. Data Management Gateway (one way data copies to the Office 365 Power BI Cloud from on-premise sources)
  4. QnA based searches
  5. Schedule Data refresh capability
  6. Browser based Mobile BI for non-windows device and Power BI mobile app
  7. Dynamic CRM Online connector is launched recently

Limitation

Yeah, it looks promising but there is a caveat. Since Power BI reports are based on Power Pivot Model, it has size limitation of 250 MB. The Excel workbook on the other hand has size limitation of 10 MB, which is very less data in real world scenario. So if you import the data in Excel workbook using Power Query and then load it in the Model, the 10MB size limitation is easily reached.

The Good news

Since it first version, there has been lots of improvement in Power BI and its getting better day by day. Below are the list of improvements worth noticing

  1. Power BI Analysis Services Connector for tabular model is available now, which is a huge relief to customers who don’t want data to in power pivot model or recreate the model.
  2. PowerBI decoupled from excel 2013 and office 365. We can now create models and reports in the browser with the help of PowerBI Designer, a stand alone app which is Power Query + Power View
  3. Mobile BI on iOS – Ipad/IPhone is finally arrived
  4. Power BI API is out to play for more advanced users.

Crux of all these information is PowerBI is a great step for Small to Medium Size organization but still quite far for enterprise considering the limitations and security implications. But if Microsoft launches Power BI for in-premise, it will be many takers. Microsoft has not clear its stand on this; till then enjoy the Preview.

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