What is Power BI?

I find it interesting that after it’s been out for a long while, and after some great attempts by non-Microsoft sources to provide an adequate definition, I am still struggling with being able to provide a succinct explanation of what Power BI is to my customers. My best attempt thus far has boiled down to the following two scenarios:

  • Individual – Power BI is a set of desktop components delivered in Excel (identified by the “Power” prefix in their name) that extend traditional Excel BI capabilities with a focus on Self Service Analytics
  • Team – Power BI is a set of cloud based services that allow dissemination of content created in Excel across multiple types of devices as well as some additional capabilities that provide new ways to glean and share insight as well as ability to structure BI content with some governance mechanisms to boot

Having re-read it a few times, I am still not sure how clear these definitions are, so maybe a picture below will help.

As we can see, some of the Power BI desktop components can be deployed as part of the on-premise enterprise architecture. There is also a way to have an almost pure cloud deployment (almost pure because there may still be some plumbing necessary with Power BI Gateway). And finally, larger companies will probably chose a hybrid approach because we still do not have feature parity between what’s available on-premise vs cloud (please see this post for details).

5 thoughts on “What is Power BI?

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