As I have been giving demos on Power BI for Office 365, I have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, with many clients really loving it.  There are common questions that I hear, and I thought I would list them here with answers:

Will there be an on-premise version of Power BI for Office 365?

Power BI for Office 365 is an umbrella name for numerous technologies and tools that blend well together.  Most of the tools are strictly on-premise versions: Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View, Power Map, and Data Management Gateway.  There are three tools that are cloud-only versions (they only work with SharePoint Online): Power BI Sites, Power BI for mobile, and Power BI Q&A.  Microsoft’s strategy with new tools is “cloud first”, which gives the benefit of being able to have monthly updates.  Microsoft has not announced if there will be an on-premise version of these tools (meaning if they will work with on-premise SharePoint).

What is stored on the cloud when using Power BI for Office 365?

You will have a SharePoint Online site that has the app “Power BI Sites” that is used to search shared queries and data sources.  Search is done via a Data Catalogue that indexes the metadata from the shared queries and optionally indexes the data.  You can also optionally upload workbooks to the Power BI Sites to share with others as well as use for use with Power BI Q&A feature.

Eventually there will be the ability to have data move from an on-premise source (via the Data Management Gateway) through the Power BI Sites to an external user (a user outside your network).  Right now this feature is not available as you can only route data to an internal user (one that is part of your network) in which case the data is not routed through the Power BI Sites but instead goes directly from the on-premise source to the internal user (the Data Management Gateway is smart enough to notice the user is internal and to not waste sending the data to the Power BI Site).

What type of security is used for the various tools?

  1. Data Management Gateway enables you to expose the data from on-premises data sources as an Open Data Protocol (Odata) feed.  This data can be accessed either using HTTP or HTTPS.  When using HTTPS, a SSL certificate is required
  2. Power Query adheres to the Crypto Mobility guidelines, according to the Microsoft SDL Process, by encrypting local credentials using DPAPI
  3. SharePoint Online.  Explained at Is My Data Secure In SharePoint Online? and Security in Office 365 Whitepaper
  4. Power BI Sites – Follows the same security as SharePoint Online
  5. Data Catalogue – Follows the same security as SharePoint Online
  6. Server connection info to data sources stored on SharePoint online – Follows the same security as SharePoint Online

When will Power BI for Office 365 be released?

Two of the tools are already released: Power Pivot and Power View.  The tools still in beta are Power Query,  Power Map, Power BI Sites, Power BI for mobile, Power BI Q&A, and Data Management Gateway.  Power Query has had monthly updates with the other tools having updates every 2-3 months.  Microsoft has not announced when these tools will be released, but all are quite stable based on my use of them.