There are now scores of blogs and web articles available that do a great job of introducing Power BI (a good example can be found here) so there is little value in re-hashing it in this post. I do, however, want to reflect and pontificate a bit on this announcement.
- The most important piece of news for me is Mobile BI. Mobile BI has been a sore topic in the Microsoft BI world for a while now and I think this is the first time we have heard anything semi-official from Microsoft confirming that PowerView will be delivered using HTML5. I am not sure how I feel about the “Cloud First and Cloud Only” strategy yet. Hopefully, Microsoft will release a public roadmap for Mobile BI functionality soon. If nothing else, we now have some evidence that this functionality is coming (albeit in Office365 flavor first) which, if nothing else, gives me a little more strength to wait a little longer
- The Power Query and Power Map are great additions to the MS BI features, with Power Query product being dramatically more significant one of the two. Both of these products have now been around for a while, although under different names. Given the fact that both are delivered as Excel add-ons (which means they run on a desktop), I am a little confused with the fact that they are being marketed with the Power BI which is a cloud Office365 offering
- Natural Language Query Language – this will be a great Demo feature, however, I am a little skeptical with how practical it will be
- Data Stewardship – sounds like a neat feature but I think we need some clarity with respect to where this fits in on the MDS roadmap for SQL Server
- I am also encouraged by the news that the PowerPivot workbooks deployed in Power BI environment will be able to refresh from the on premise data sources. I can only then assume that Azure IaaS connectivity will also be supported.
There is something in this announcement that I find a little bit confusing. I would normally expect new functionality to be added to the enterprise feature set first and to the Self Service use case later. I am afraid that a lot of IT shops will find it a little discouraging that BI features they provide via the enterprise toolset are inferior to what the end users will get for a self-service use case in the cloud.