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Frequent Visitor

Advice on a total on-premises solution

Hi all,

 

I'd welcome some friendly advice as I'm a little confused about how exactly Power BI integrates with non-cloud based solutions. I've read and watched a load of stuff (roadmap, etc,) but would still welcome a little more clarity as I can only find the odd quote or comment on the web. 

 

I'm currently revising a BI solution for my employer (a government site) and I'd like to understand what options are available for publishing Power BI (Desktop) reports so that they can be viewed by Managers (200+ users). All data is stored on-prem and all reports have to be published on-premHere's our basic BI route, there are other iterations but this is the main one:

 

Live DB > SQL Warehouse > SSMS/SSRS (Visual Studio) > Excel/Power BI Desktop> ??

 

Is that ?? SSRS, SharePoint, Pyramid Server or something else?

 

We have SQL Server 2016 (not yet installed) and are developing SharePoint. I know there is Power BI plug-in for SharePoint, but SharePoint hasn't been deployed yet so I've had no chance to test.

 

Thanks for any info.

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Super User III
Super User III

Re: Advice on a total on-premises solution

@Stuck1 To your first point. If you have only being using the Desktop, you are correct, none of that is being pushed anywhere, all your information is on your local machine/network.

 

The two main parts of Power BI are the Desktop, which allows you to model and build reports, and the Service, which allows you to build reports and share. The "Sharing" is the key piece in the Service, which allows people to see dashboards on any device, etc, etc. But that piece is a Saas that sits on Azure, and that is where I reference compliance etc, when data is pushed into Azure.

 

To your last point, there is a lot of effort going into making Power BI and Excel work well together. The current "Analyze in Excel" feature in the Service, export to Excel, etc are markers of that effort. (Doesn't apply to you though, as you are only using the Desktop). 

Power BI is just one part of a complete BI solution, I'd keep your eye on the updates to SQL 2016, as that sounds like the route you want to head.


Looking for more Power BI tips, tricks & tools? Check out PowerBI.tips the site I co-own with Mike Carlo. Also, if you are near SE WI? Join our PUG Milwaukee Brew City PUG

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Super User III
Super User III

Re: Advice on a total on-premises solution

@Stuck1 Being a government entity, you are most likely held to certain compliance certifications. While Power BI is evolving, it doesn't supports gov compliance yet. Now, when i say that, I'm talking about the Power BI Service, because the Desktop is on premises. As far as I know, Power BI is still only in tier A of the Office 365 Compliance Framework. More details about all that are in the security white paper found here.

There are two main ways data is accessed, the way you describe - in which you are importing data into excel/desktop and loading that to the Service. In this scenerio, you are pushing your data into Azure, and those compliance certifications would need to be there.

The second way is by using direct query or live connection to a sql database, tabular model, or multidimensional cube. In this method, only a small amount of snapshot information is pulled up to display visuals, the data itself always sits on premise. But this may not be enough for compliance ( I wouldn't know).

 

That is the current state of Power BI.

 

You also reference SQL 2016:

In this scenerio, the roadmap as I understand it, will eventually allow you to create Power BI Desktop reports and publish them to an SSRS server on premises. In this case, nothing ever gets accessed or pushed to the cloud. The only problem with this scenerio is I don't know the timelines on when this capability will be available. As it relates to SharePoint, if you want the full feature set of Power BI capabilities in your reporting solution, you may want to avoid integrating your reporting via SharePoint. John White makes a solid arguement for that in his blog here.


Looking for more Power BI tips, tricks & tools? Check out PowerBI.tips the site I co-own with Mike Carlo. Also, if you are near SE WI? Join our PUG Milwaukee Brew City PUG
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Frequent Visitor

Re: Advice on a total on-premises solution

Thanks so much for the information and links. Just a few further points:

 

I don't work in the US and I'm not aware of any compliance certifications, but I know our IT has reservations around certain aspects of 365, so it may just be a local decision that governs what we install or maybe there is something I'm unaware of! Just so I'm clear on this and I'm sorry if this is a dumb question: At the moment I'm using Power BI (Desktop) and loading various datasets from our server or my local machine - Surely non of that data is passed to Azure (at any point) is it?

 

I'm yet to look at the online version of Power BI, but I've seen it has a few functions that aren't in the Desktop version. At the moment Desktop seems to meet our needs (although the Azure ML would be nice). I'll maybe also take a look at the Pro version in due course.

 

I interpreted the roadmap the same way, but I could see no evidence of its implementation, now I know why. I guess its just a case of waiting, but the 'Publish to Pyramid Server' option confused me and made me question the apparent SSRS commitment.

 

In truth I'm reluctant to go down the SharePoint route having heard a few horror stories. To house eveything in SSRS would be great, but Power BI can't do everything we need so 'Excel > SharePoint' may still have a role.

 

Thanks again.

Highlighted
Super User III
Super User III

Re: Advice on a total on-premises solution

@Stuck1 To your first point. If you have only being using the Desktop, you are correct, none of that is being pushed anywhere, all your information is on your local machine/network.

 

The two main parts of Power BI are the Desktop, which allows you to model and build reports, and the Service, which allows you to build reports and share. The "Sharing" is the key piece in the Service, which allows people to see dashboards on any device, etc, etc. But that piece is a Saas that sits on Azure, and that is where I reference compliance etc, when data is pushed into Azure.

 

To your last point, there is a lot of effort going into making Power BI and Excel work well together. The current "Analyze in Excel" feature in the Service, export to Excel, etc are markers of that effort. (Doesn't apply to you though, as you are only using the Desktop). 

Power BI is just one part of a complete BI solution, I'd keep your eye on the updates to SQL 2016, as that sounds like the route you want to head.


Looking for more Power BI tips, tricks & tools? Check out PowerBI.tips the site I co-own with Mike Carlo. Also, if you are near SE WI? Join our PUG Milwaukee Brew City PUG

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