What Does XMLA Endpoints Mean for Power BI and How to Test it for Free?

Test Environment from Power BI XMLA Endpoint

XMLA endpoint connectivity for public preview has been announced late March 2019. As at today, it is only available for Power BI Premium capacity users. This sounds like a massive restriction to a lot of people who don’t have a Premium capacity, but they’d love to see how it works. In this article I show you an easy way to get your hands to Power BI XMLA endpoint as quick as possible. Before I start, I’d like to simply explain what XMLA endpoint is and what it really means for Power BI users.

Power BI is Like Onion! It has layers!

Generally speaking, Power BI has two different layers, presentation layer and data model layer. Presentation layer is the visual layer, the one you make all those compelling reports and visualisations. The data model as the name resembles, is the layer that you make your data model in. This layer is the one you can access it via XMLA connectivity.

In a Power BI Desktop file, you can see both layers:

Different layers of Power BI

How XMLA Relates to Different Layers in Power BI?

As you may have already guessed, XMLA is only related to the data model layer and it has nothing to do with the presentation layer. So you may connect to a data model, browse the data model, import data from the model to other platforms like Excel and so forth.

XMLA Is Not New!

Seriously? Yes, seriously. It is not new. It’s been around for many years and perhaps you’ve already used it zillions of times. Whenever you’re connecting to an instance of SQL Server Analysis Services, either Multidimensional or Tabular from any tools like SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), Power BI Report Builder, Excel, Tableau, etc…, you’re using XMLA connectivity indeed.

Power BI is an Instance of SSAS Tabular

It is true. Power BI runs a local instance of SSAS Tabular model. So, whenever you open a Power BI Desktop file (PBIX), Power BI creates a local instance of SSAS Tabular model with a random local port number that can be accessed on your local machine only. When you close the file, the local instance of SSAS Tabular is shut down and its port number is released.

I first revealed the fact that you can connect to the underlying data model in Power BI Desktop from whole different range of tools like SSMS, SQL Server Profiler, Excel, etc… on Jun 2016. So, we indeed were using XMLA to connect to Power BI data models for a long time. We can even take a step further to import our Power BI data models into an instance of SSAS Tabular. In that sense, we are literally generating XMLA scripts from Power BI to create the same data model in SSAS Tabular. How cool is that?

Sooo… What is new then?

Continue reading “What Does XMLA Endpoints Mean for Power BI and How to Test it for Free?”

Quick Tips: How to Enable Dataflows In Power BI Service

Dataflows in Power BI Service

Dataflows (Preview) in Power BI Service has been landed yesterday (6th November 2018). I had a little bit of difficulties to enable this cool new feature so I thought it is good to write a Quick tip about it. While Dataflows is under preveiw at the time of writing this quick tip, the situation may be totally different in the future.

Straight away, fully featured Dataflows is available in a Power BI Premium capacity or in a Power BI Embedded Capacity, but, while this is still in preview, you can take advantage of limited features available in your Power BI Pro license. Features like “Linked entities from other dataflows” or “Computed Entities”, like merging tables to a new table, are not available in a Power BI Pro license.

Dataflows Computed Entities

Enabling Dataflows

  • After sign in to Power BI Service click “Settings”
  • Click “Admin Portal”

Power BI Service Admin Portal

  • Select Capacity type you are in, either Premium or Embedded
  • Click on a desired capacity that you’d like to enable Dataflows

Managing a Premium Capacity in Power BI Admin Portal

  • Scroll down to find and click “Workloads” under “More Options”
  • Enable “Dataflows (Preview)”
  • If you stick to the default “Max Memory (%)” value that is set to 20 you’ll get an error message saying “There was an issue updating your workload setting. Try again in a little while”. The error message is not helpful at all. The reason you get the error message is that the “Max Memory (%)” value must be a number between 27 to 100 while the default is 20.

Enabling Dataflows in Power BI Service Continue reading “Quick Tips: How to Enable Dataflows In Power BI Service”

Export Power BI Service Data to SQL Server

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Update 2019 April: If you’re interested in exporting the data model from Power BI Service to SQL Server check this out.

Note: The method explained in the above post involves Power BI Premium or Embedded capacities with XMLA endpoints connectivity at the time of writing.

A while ago I wrote a blog post explaining how to Export Power BI Data to SQL Server with R. In that post I explained how to get the job done in Power BI Desktop using R scripts. In this post I explain how to export Power BI Service data to SQL server. YES! You can export data from Power BI service to a SQL Server database sitting in your on-premises environment. Keep reading to see how.

How It Works?

This is going to be a short post as I already covered the first part of the process in my other post on Export Power BI Data to SQL Server with R. So in this post I show you how to use the Power BI Desktop file you already created using the method explained in that blog post to export your Power BI Service data to an on-premises instance of SQL Server. All you need to do is to

  • Publish the existing Power BI Desktop solution to Power BI Service
  • Install On-premises Data Gateway in PERSONAL MODE

Note: R is NOT supported by the current version (Version Number: 14.16.6614.5) of the On-premises Data Gateway in Enterprise Mode.

After you successfully published the model to Power BI Service you’ll notice that you cannot refresh the model if you don’t install the On-premises Data Gateway in Personal Mode.

Continue reading “Export Power BI Service Data to SQL Server”

Download Power BI Reports from Power BI Service

Download report from Power BI Service

A new cool feature added to Power BI Service is the ability to download Power BI reports from Power BI Service. This feature is highly demanded and it’s available from November 2016. I was really excited when I noticed that and I had to try it straight away. I was in a bus back to home on Friday, but, I couldn’t wait until I get home and test this cool feature. So I created a personal hotspot and started testing it in the bus. To make the level of my excitement clearer, I should reveal a secret. I get motion sick in the bus very quickly. It gets worth when I read something, even reading a text on my mobile. Man, it’s really horrible feeling. Knowing that I’ll potentially get sick, I turned on my tablet (a Windows 10 tablet of course) to test this new cool feature. So I logged into my Power BI Service account, I opened a report, clicked File menu and this is what I got

Inactive Download report from Power BI Service

But, why?

Two possibilities jumped into my head immediately:

  • The dataset of this particular report is not supported at the moment
  • The “Download report” feature is NOT supported in my area

So I opened Power BI Desktop and created a report on top of an Excel file very quickly, then I published it to the service and voila! It worked. So it is also available in my area.

 

Download report from Power BI Service

But, what was wrong with the previous report though? The dataset?

I checked the report’s dataset, it was on-premises SQL Server. Could it be a problem?

I created another Power BI report in Power BI Desktop on top of adventure works on SQL Server 2016. I published the model and interestingly the download report feature was still active. So how on earth I shouldn’t be able to download that report?

Well, I was in the bus, wobble about and I was feeling that the motion sickness symptom is coming for me and there were a bunch of “whys” in my head.

So I had to experiment some other datasets as well. I tested the following datasets:

  1. CSV files
  2. Folder
  3. SQL Server Direct Query
  4. SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) Multidimensional (Connect Live)
  5. SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular
  6. From Web
  7. Azure SQL Database
  8. Azure SQL Data Warehouse

Continue reading “Download Power BI Reports from Power BI Service”

Webinar Materials: Power BI Under the Hood

Pass DW BI VC Power BI Under the Hood with Soheil BakhshiI’d like to thank you all for attending the webinar held on 30th September 2016. I talked about some amazing under cover aspects of Power BI Desktop model. In this session you learnt:

If you’ve missed the webinar you can watch it online here:

Download the Power Point presentation file here.:

Download (PPTX, 1.91MB)

Here is the PDF version of presentation:

Download (PDF, 534KB)

Data Classification in Power BI

Power BI Data ClassificationIn many corporations depending on the type of data is being used there could be different types of the sensitivities that should be applied to that data. Data Classification fulfills in Power BI Service this matter very easily. In today’s post you’ll learn how to setup Data Classification in Power BI Service.

First of all I want to inform you that Data Classification is NOT a sort of security or privacy setting. It is only a TAG which is all about informing Power BI users across a corporation to take extra care when they want to share data with other people inside or outside of that corporation. For instance some data might be OK to be shared externally outside the company, but, the other data might not be shared with groups of people even within that corporation.

Depending on your corporation you might have different levels of sensitivity like

  • High Sensitive Data
  • Medium Sensitive Data
  • Low Sensitive Data

So depending on what level of sensitivity, for instance for High Sensitive Data, the Power BI users should be really careful of who they share Power BI Dashboards and data with. In Power BI Service we can easily setup data classification on our dashboards so anyone who is looking at that dashboard is able to understand how sensitive that dashboard is and who they can share it with.

Requirements

To be able to setup Data Classification in Power BI Service you have to:

In case that you want to add another admin user,and if you already integrated your on-premises Active Directory with Azure Active Directory (AD) then you can either grant necessary admin rights to that user from your Azure portal in Azure AD or directly from Office 365 Admin Centre.

The user needs to be an Office 365 “Global Administrator” to be able to setup data classification in Power BI Service. A global administrator will have access to “Admin Portal” panel within Power BI Service which includes data classification and many more other important settings.

Make a User Global Administrator in Office 365

After you signed into your Power BI Service account,

  • Click “Admin” tile from the app launcher

Office 365 Admin Centre

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Webinar Materials: Visualising Azure SQL DW with Power BI

Power BI Azure SQL DW PassIn the previous post I announced that I will speak in “Visualising Your Azure SQL Data Warehouse with Power BI” webinar on 23 Jan 2016. The webinar host was Pass Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter. It was such an amazing experience for me to speak in the webinar and I would like to thank all 105 attendees. The attendees showed their enthusiasm by asking lots of questions during the webinar.

In this webinar I demonstrated:

  • How to install Azure SQL DW in Azure Portal
  • How to configure firewall settings from Azure Portal and SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) 2016
  • How to connect directly from Azure SQL DW to Power BI Service and the other way around
  • How to visualise you Azure SQL DW data warehouse data with Power BI Desktop (both Data Import and DirectQuery scenarios)
  • Comparing the features of different scenarios that helps you finding the best for your use cases

and much more…

You can see and download the session materials as follows.

Session Materials

Watch Visualising Your Azure SQL Data Warehouse with Power BI on YouTube

Continue reading “Webinar Materials: Visualising Azure SQL DW with Power BI”

Power BI Enterprise Gateway, Everything You Need to Know

On-premises Data Gateway (aka Power BI Enterprise Gateway) is release a while ago (2 Dec. 2015), but, with the latest release on 22 Dec. 2015 Power BI Enterprise Gateway now supports live connections to both SQL Server Analysis Services Multidimensional and Tabular models as well as SAP HANA. In this post I’ll explain lots of important aspects of the Power BI Enterprise Gateway including installation,  configuration for different data sources including SSAS Multidimensional, Tabular and SQL Server Database and much more. If you need to have the lowest possible latency then you need DirectQuery/Explore Live feature on top of your on-premises data sources. The good news is that Power BI Enterprise Gateway now supports all following data sources:

  • SQL Server Database
  • SQL Server Analysis Services Multidimensional
  • SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular
  • SAP HANA

    In this article you’ll learn how to install and configure Power BI Enterprise Gate Way, how to manage different live data sources, how to create reports on top of live data sources and more.

  • Note 1: If you want to use DirectQuery to connect to your on-prem SQL Server Database OR Explore Live your SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular model then you might not need to install and use the Power BI Enterprise Gateway. In those cases you can install Power BI Personal Gateway to connect to an instance of SQL Server OR install Power BI Analysis Services Connector to connect to your on-prem instance of SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular model rather than installing the Power BI Enterprise Gateway. But, bear in mind that selecting the best gateway is really depending on your use cases, your data sources and the environment you’re working on.

  • Note 2: The Power BI Enterprise Gateway and Power BI Personal Gateway CAN be installed on the same machine.

    Downloading and Installing Power BI Enterprise Gateway

    You can download the gateway from Power BI website when you logged in to your account and click on “Power BI Gateways” from the download menu:

    Downloading Power BI Enterprise Gateway

    OR you can go straight to the gateway page then download the Power BI Gateway – Enterprise (Preview):

    Direct Link to Download Power BI Enterprise Gateway

Continue reading “Power BI Enterprise Gateway, Everything You Need to Know”