Power Platform – Link Collection

Welcome to my link-collection about everything related to the Power Platform.

If you know an URL worth adding – please send it to me! I will update the links… (Change log at the bottom of the page)

powerPlatform Links

Product Group Blogs

toolname.microsoft.com/blog

Documentation

docs.microsoft.com/toolname

Business Applications Release Notes

Downloads

Videos

From the Product Groups

 

Community Sites

User Group Sites

Conferences

Whitepapers

Common Data Model


Changes:

  • 2018-09-07:
    • Added Videos, Common Data Model and Community Sites section, moved some links to other sections
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Hybrid Power BI – What is Possible? What Do you Need?

PowerBI.com was introduced as a cloud-based SaaS solution for self-service business intelligence (BI). With its built-in and custom connectors, Power BI datasets can get their data from various sources irrespective of being on-premises and/or cloud-based data sources.

Power BI Dataset Development Cycle

When looking at the development cycle, Power BI Desktop is the tool for connecting to data sources, transforming data using Power Query (M) and building the data model using DAX. If the dataset is finalized, the Power BI report (pbix file) is published to powerbi.com. Within powerbi.com, report authors can share those datasets and reports with other users (report consumers).

Data Origin

In todays enterprise environments a huge mixture of data sources is found in the fields. The mixture lies in the purpose of the systems, the technical data storage and the settling of the source systems. Not many enterprises can call them 100% cloud-only and therefore a mixture of cloud-based and on-premises data sources are brought into those enterprises reporting solutions. When looking at some of our customers, I think that this mixture will continue to last …

This mixed adoption of data origins (cloud and on-premises) lead to the implementation of hybrid reporting systems – in my blog post I will talk about Hybrid Power BI solutions.

Why Hybrid (Power BI)?

There are several reasons why hybrid Power BI solutions are needed and why even mainly on-premises focused enterprises can benefit from a hybrid architecture.

One of the main reasons is that there is already existing on-premises infrastructure / systems in place like an Enterprise Data Warehouse (DWH) which cannot be easily transferred into the cloud. Some other industries are not allowed to move their data into the cloud because of regulatory reasons. And other enterprises (or sometimes only the CEO / CIO) are afraid of moving their data into the cloud for reporting.

On the other side – the fast-moving development and release cadence of Power BI (monthly & bi-weekly release cadences) leads to an uncatchable advance for cloud-based reporting solutions compared to traditional on-premises reporting solutions.

Coming back to the arguments some of the opponents of cloud-based reporting are arguing with – I think that one of the main reasons for hybrid reporting (Power BI) solutions is to take the best approaches from both sides and combine them to build the best solution!

Paths to Hybrid Power BI

In the following paragraphs I would like to tell you more about the different paths to Hybrid Power BI and which questions can be solved with those different paths.

Path #1: Use On-Premises Data Sources & On-Premises Data Gateway

When using on-premises systems as data sources for your Power BI reports published to powerbi.com you’ll need a connector program that is able to connect the cloud with the on-premises world.

The following schematic architecture shows powerbi.com (running as a SaaS solution in the Microsoft Azure cloud) and different kinds of on-premises data sources like files and/or databases. The On-Premises Data Gateway acts as a connector between those two worlds.

hybridPBI_01

Power BI and On-Premises Data Sources

The On-Premises Data Gateway (named Application Gateway in the following architecture) is not limited to only connecting PowerBI.com to on-premises data sources. Additionally, the Data Gateway can also be used by

  • Azure Analysis Services
  • PowerApps
  • Microsoft Flow and
  • Azure Logic Apps
hybridPBI_02

On-Premises Data Gateway – Architecture

The Data Gateway can be downloaded directly from powerbi.com and needs to be configured for your Power BI tenant with your login (i.e. email-address).

hybridPBI_03

On-Premises Data Gateway Download

Installation and configuration of the data gateway is separated. The installation process only copies the appropriate binaries onto the gateway server. During the configuration actions you’ll need to enter your (or a system-user) Power BI credentials to register the Data Gateway in your Power BI tenant.

There are two different installation modes for the data gateway: Personal versus Enterprise Gateway. The differences between those modes are depicted in the following table. Be reminded – personal mode really means personal! 😊

Enterprise Gateway Personal Gateway
Power BI, PowerApps, Flow, Logic Apps Power BI only
Multiple Users can share and reuse gateway Personal mode only
Central source management & access control Sources only on gateway-computer
Schedule, on-demand refresh and DirectQuery On-Demand refresh and scheduled refresh
Central Monitoring and control No central monitoring / control
Installed & configured by (BI) Admins Installed & configured by Analysts
Gateway Clusters (Failover)

 

Data Gateway configuration is split into two different actions. Configuration of the data gateway itself and the configuration and definition of data sources. A Data Gateway can only work with on-premises sources when those sources are configured as data sources in the context of the gateway. This configuration is done in the powerbi.com web-portal and requires the connection information as well as the definition of the (Power BI) users that are allowed to work with those data sources.

hybridPBI_04

Gateway Overview in PowerBI.com

The overall topic of the on-premises Data Gateway is a huge topic and definitely goes beyond the scope of this article. Maybe someday in the future I will find some time to write more deep-dive articles about the data gateway.

For those of you that need more information – take a look at the On-Premises Data Gateway documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/service-gateway-onprem

 

 

Path #2: SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) and Power BI

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) are part of the SQL Server product since many versions. In enterprise reporting solutions, SSRS is very often used for serving as a foundation for standardized, pixel-perfect reports.

SSRS developers have the full control over content generation (with expressions that can be used to configure almost every property) as well as exporting options. With a full set of export options (like Excel, PDF, ..) SSRS reports very often serve as a centralized starting point for further reporting pipelines.

SQL Server 2016 (and with it SSRS 2016) brought a huge overwork on the UI side (touch friendly and HTML5) and some (minor) feature extensions.

What SSRS lacks is a dashboard functionality (sure, you can build an SSRS report that looks and feels like a dashboard) that combines report parts from multiple reports into a single dashboard.

But wait – PowerBI.com has this functionality and newer SSRS versions include a feature of pinning parts of a report to a powerbi.com dashboard. After configuring and registering your Power BI tenant to your SSRS Server instance (in the Reporting Services Configuration Manager) you are able to start pinning with a simple click on the Power BI logo within your SSRS UI.

hybridPBI_05

Pin an SSRS report part to a Power BI dashboard

hybridPBI_06

Dashboard with SSRS report part

 

Path #3: Bring Power BI to On-Premises

In October 2015 Microsoft announced and published their reporting roadmap which contained the plans and directions how Microsoft sees the future of reporting with their own tools. The roadmap announcement included several main points like

  1. Data Origin for reporting gets heterogeneous
  2. Diverging reporting requirements (Standard reports, self-service, Mobile, KPIs, ..)
  3. Harmonization with cloud services / functionality
  4. Focus on SQL Server Reporting Services
hybridPBI_07

Reporting Roadmap Blog post

And there was one thing in the roadmap announcement – Microsoft will bring Power BI reports to On-Premises. In June 2017 the first version of Power BI Report Server (PBIRS) was released. PBIRS contains SSRS as core plus the functionality of rendering Power BI reports.

The Power BI Report Server gets updated every 3-4 months and those updates includes new features every time. As Power BI (in the cloud) is a fast moving product and features are added constantly, PBIRS also needs some updates from time to time to stay current 😊

 

Path #4: Excel and Power BI

 

Last, but not least – Excel and Power BI. Excel is the world most used Business Intelligence and reporting tool from Microsoft. Many users build very powerful solutions within Excel and those users are very often familar with the concept of Pivot tables.

Maybe you’ve already seen the option Analyze in Excel in the context menu of a Power BI dataset or report. With that action users can directly connect to Power BI datamodels hosted in the cloud and use those data models as data sources for Pivot tables.

hybridPBI_08

PowerBI.com – Analyze in Excel

hybridPBI_09

Analyze a Power BI dataset in Excel

With the Power BI Publisher for Excel, users can start their analysis journey out of Excel and connect to Power BI datasets / reports. In addition, parts of your Excel workbooks can be pinned to a Power BI dashboard (like the approach with SSRS report parts pinning).

hybridPBI_10

Power BI Publisher for Excel

Conclusion

When talking about Hybrid Power BI, most users think about the On-Premises Data Gateway and the connection between on-premises data sources and Power BI as a first option.

But I think, Hybrid Power BI is more than that. There are many ways of building a hybrid reporting / Power BI solution. You only have to choose your way and options:

  • On-Premises to Power BI -> On-Premises Data Gateway
  • Power BI to On-Premises -> Power BI Report Server
  • Connect On-Premises with Power BI -> SSRS and Excel Integration

 

If you want more information about the topic “Hybrid Power BI” I recommend you the recording of my Power BI Usergroup webinar.

  • Link will be posted when available!

Happy Power BI-ing,

Wolfgang

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Documentation To-Go – Download docs.com Content as PDF

docs.com is my first starting point when I have to look something up about different Microsoft products.

Maybe some of the readers remember the times when installation routines contained an option to install documentation directly on your systems. At those times this was a great way of having the right documentation on your fingertip.

With an almost everyime-connectivity to the internet the requirement of installing the documentation on the systems is not really needed anymore. In addition, the faster release cadences of products often lead to new features and changes in the documentation that would require a more frequent update of your local documentation (think about powerbi.com service which gets update very frequently).

I think we can conform to the fact that internet based documentation is great.. if you have internet connection.

There are some places and circumstances where no internet connection is available – i.e. train rides, flights and some places without mobile coverage. And sometimes in those times you need to work or you would like to use the time to read and inform yourself based on docs.com content.

There is an easy to use solution for those problem: Every docs.com page provides an action to download the documentation as PDF page.

Attention: Be aware that the download action does not only create a PDF for the current page but for the overall section – in my example below the generated PDF contains the overal powerbi.com documentation section (~2700 pages).

  • Browse to the documenation page / section
  • Hit the Download PDF link
  • and save the PDF for future use
docs download as PDF

Download a docs.com page as PDF

docs download as PDF 2

Excerpt of the generated PDF

 

Happy offline-documentation-reading,

Wolfgang

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What Do You Need To Play With The Power Platform?

This blog post is part of my Power Platform blog series.

Maybe you’ve already heard about the Microsoft Power Platform (which consists three tools Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow) and now is the time to start testing it?

The first questions that arise are: What do I need? Do I need to pay if I only want to try it out?

For more information about the Power Platform please have a look at:

To build the application on your own, you’ll need access to and licenses for

  • com
  • microsoft.com
  • microsoft.com

Grab a trial license for initial testing

If you do not have valid licenses (like with your company’s Office365 license ..) , all three tools provide you with free trial accounts. Please follow the links for

PowerApps Community Plan – Free testing for YOU (and only you)

Be aware that the trials are time-boxed – after the trial period you’ll have to buy a license – OR you could use for example the PowerApps Community Plan which gets you a free environment for individual use of PowerApps and Flow.

Links:

Attention: the PowerApps Community plan is NOT for production use!

Attention: existing users (like your user in a trial) can create an individual environment.

powerApps Community Plan

PowerApps Community Plan

 

Pricing overview

After testing you’ll need to have a look at the overall pricing and licensing. Here are the links for the different products:

 

 

Happy testing and trial-ing! 🙂

Wolfgang

Posted in Power Platform, PowerBI | 2 Comments

Webinar: Hybrid Power BI – Recap of my Data & BI Summit Session

I am very happy that my two sessions at the Data & BI Summit 2018 in Dublin made it into the TOP 10 sessions of the conference and therefore I am doing a recap of those two sessions as webinars for Power BI usergroups.

The first webinar Hybrid Power BI – What is Possible? What do you need? takes place on Thursday, August 30th 2018 – Registration link

See you all online for an overview about Hybrid Power BI!

http://www.powerplatformug.com

All upcoming webinars: https://www.pbiusergroup.com/participate/webinars

DCI-PowerBI-LOGO_color 320test

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The Business Applications October 2018 Release Notes – From a Power BI perspective

During the keynote of the 2018 Microsoft Business Applications Summit, the new version of the Business Applications Release Notes has been publicly shared. After the first appearance of a public roadmap document in Spring this is the second version the team published. In addition to the 239 page long PDF the release note sections at docs.microsoft.com is updated. In my opinion, the PDF is nice but I prefer surfing on the web page and using the easy to use links between the different chapters.

What is contained?

The Business Applications Release Notes (October 2018) provide a summary and overview about the features that the product teams plan to release between October 2018 and March 2019. The technologies contained in the document are:

  • Dynamics 365
  • Microsoft Flow
  • Power BI
  • Common Data Service
  • PowerApps

Beginning with this version of the Release Notes, Power BI & PowerApps and Flow are now officially called the Power Platform.

In this blog post I will summarize the Power BI features. Please be aware, that I will not include every single announcements – I include the my most important ones in the following list! For the full list please download the PDF of surf to the docs.microsoft.com site.

PowerApps working together with Power BI

  • Deeper PowerApps integration in Power BI (page 152). The integration work continues. Use PowerApps within Power BI reports in production, refresh! Power BI reports from PowerApps and improvements in sharing between apps and reports.
  • Create Power BI reports using data in Common Data Service for Apps (page 152). Adding a connector that allows to connect to data in CDS for Apps and building data models upon that entities.

Power BI Desktop

  • Many enhancements are included (page 186-190)
  • My highlights are:
    • Aggregations (public preview, page 187). Data model sizes are growing fast and with the concept of aggregations you’ll be able to provide data at the detail level whereas aggregations at a higher level are pre-calculated and if the reporting needs are fulfilled with those aggregations data is taken from the memory cache. Access to the detail-level data-sources is done with DirectQuery whereas the aggregation tables are running in dual mode.
    • Composite Models (public preview, page 187). Until July 2018, Power BI datasets could only be either in Import or DirecQuery/Live connection mode. Composite models allow to mix import and tabular direct query sources to be mixed and combined in one dataset. To get it work, those tables are connected using many-to-many relationships (NEW in July 2018 Desktop release) and dual mode tables are introduced (either work in import or DirectQuery mode depending on the properties used in a visual)
    • Copy Data from matrix and table visual (page 188). Seems like an easy one but highly demanded one – copy data to the clipboard.
    • Expression-based formatting (page 188). Those of you that already worked with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) are for sure familiar with expressions. Good news – expressions are coming to Power BI. DAX expressions can be used to dynamically define properties like colors, styles and titles. At the Business Application Summit the team announced that the supported properties will extend over time!
    • Theming (over report and general availability, page 189, 190). Nothing to add – reporting themes will get GA.

Power BI service (excerpt)

  • Working with Big Data (190) – Support to use the Common Data Model. Power BI will be able to connect to entities defined by the Common Data Model. Self-Service data prep is coming to the Power BI service (Power Query based). Integration between Power BI and Azure Data Lake Storage.
  • Enterprise BI (190) – SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is becoming a part of Power BI (Premium): Paginated, pixel-perfect reports in powerbi.com. Deploy Power BI in specific global regions for optimal performance and data residency requirements. Enterprise-scale BI Models: integration of SQL Server Analysis Services into Power BI. Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) support for better development.
  • Self-Service data prep (pages 191-193). Self-service data prep for big data in Power BI – uses Power Query as backbone; allows mapping into entities in Common Data Model/Services or newly-created ones. Collaboration across borders between Azure Data Lage Storage Gen2. Power BI Data Flows are able to read data entities filled by other Azure Data Services (like Azure Data Factory, Databricks, Azure Machine Learning, ..)
  • Power BI Dataflows (page 192) – Unify data from different sources and prepare it for modelling – all with the use of web-based Power Query. The targets are entities stored in Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2. Entities are based on structures from the Common Data Model (CDM) but those entities can be modified and/or created by yourself.
    • Computed Entitities (page 192) – allow the data flow creators to enrich and transform already loaded dataflow entities. Power BI Premium!
    • Linked Entities (page 192) – Use already existing entities without duplication them -> Single source of truth. Requires Power BI Premium.
    • Incremental Dataflow Refresh – Power BI Premium
    • Azure Integration – Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 will be included in every paid Power BI subscription – 10GB/user for PRO, 100TB per P1 node (Premium)). You can also use your company’s Azure storage and extend those limits.
  • Admin APIs (page 193) – Enjoy the extended Power BI Admin APIs. A .NET SDK and PowerShell modules will help you to use those new APIs
  • Enhancements for Report URL parameters (page 193) – More options for direct report URL parameters
  • Commenting (page 194) – within powerbi.com you’ll be able to comment reports and dashboards. Direct mentions will be supported.
  • Metadata translations (page 194) – A HUGE one for international users – translate dataset fields and the right translation is shown to the user!
  • Power BI Home (page 195) – PowerBI.com gets a landing page for every user. Direct links to the users favorite reports, …
  • Multi-geo for compliance (196) – Power BI Premium only – BUT: Choose the geo-region where you data sets should be stored.
  • Query acceleration for large datasets (196) – small paragraph in the docs – BUT HUGE! Users can access DirectQuery models and speed them up with in-memory aggregations over some of the data. Based on the fields used in the report visuals either the in-memory aggregation tables OR the DirectQuery source is used.
  • Paginate reports (page 196) – Reporting Services are coming to Power BI (Premium at start)
  • Workspaces with Azure AD groups (198) – the current requirement that every Power BI workspace creates an Office 365 group in the background will be removed.
  • XMLA endpoints (for third-party client connectivity and lifecycle management) (198). Third-party clients can connect directly to Power BI datasets using XMLA.

Power BI Mobile

  • Drillthrough (200) – Drillthrough to another report page is coming to the Power BI Mobile apps
  • Paginated reports (200) – with SSRS reports coming to powerbi.com, this report type is also supported in the Power BI mobile app.
  • Single-Sign On for Windows Devices (200). When running on a windows device the Power BI app can be configured to directly take the users credentials and use them to sign in to Power BI app.
  • …..

Power BI Custom Visuals

  • Accessibility support (204)
  • Certified custom visuals in the marketplace (204) – With an additional certification process, developers can mark their visuals as certified ones – those visuals are supported in export to PowerPoint and email subscriptions and clearly marked in the Power BI Visuals store.
  • Support for bookmarks, persistent filters, report tooltips
  • Custom visuals in Excel (205) – Excel get the functionality to included Power BI Custom Visuals into their spreadsheets!
  • Organizational visuals (206) – Power BI administrators can define a list of organizations visuals.

Power BI Report Server (page 212)

  • Support for new features of Power BI Reports (rule of thumb – those Power BI reporting features that are GA at the time when the new Release of PBIRS is released -> they will be included in the PBIRS Power BI Desktop Release)
  • Row-Level Security (RLS) is coming to PBIRS
  • Export to Excel – Export from a tabular visual within a Power BI Report running in PBIRS.

Azure Analysis Services (page 213)

  • Resource governance – set max memory size per query and max. number of rows to improve resource utilization
  • MDX column controls – you can turn of MDX usage for certain columns

 

Links:

Posted in Power Platform, PowerBI | Leave a comment

The Microsoft Power Platform

Currently flying home from a great Microsoft Business Applications Summit in Seattle I wanted to use that time in the plane to write about an interesting topic – the Microsoft Power Platform.

2018_07_PowerPlatform

Maybe you have not heard about that new platform and you also got curious (like me) to find out more about that new platform. Is it a new technical platform, is it at development platform?

I read the first time about the Power platform about a month ago in my LinkedIn news feed. Someone mentioned, that Satya Nadella named the combination of Power BI, Power Apps and Flow as the Microsoft Power Platform (https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2018/04/26/microsoft-corporation-msft-q3-2018-earnings-confer.aspx) . In this year’s Ignite core-note, Satya talked about the Power Platform too. At the keynote at the MS Business Applications Summit, James Philips also talked about the Power platform as an integral part of the overall Digital Feedback Loop.

2018_07_PowerPlatform_01

The Digital Feedback Loop

Based on Data, Intelligence and Action as it’s core principles the Digital Feedback Loop concludes processes to optimize operations, transform products, empower employees and engage (existing and new) customers.

The foundation pillars

But – enough marketing vocabulary said, back to the Power Platform and its components: Power BI, Power Apps and Microsoft Flow.

At first sight, those three products do not really have something in common except the facts that all of them are Microsoft products and services running in the cloud. If you do not know these products I want to introduce them to you.

  • Power BI serves as the platform for the future of Microsoft reporting being it either enterprise reporting or self-service, interactive analytics. Based on proven technologies like Power Query for data preparation, Power Pivot/SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular/DAX for defining a consistent data model and a solid reporting framework allowing interactive and more to be PowerPoint for Data approach – Power BI took over many fields within the last three years since it’s first public appearance. https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/announcing-power-bi-general-availability-coming-july-24th/
  • Power Apps provides the functionality of building solid business applications within minutes. Being able to work with data coming from multiple source systems, providing an easy-to-use framework for application building and using the many aspects of integration serve as the main reasons why Power Apps overtook the place for fast, easy and solid web-based application building.
  • Microsoft Flow – no system is complete on its own. Integration (not only data integration) gets more and more important. Working with multiple different applications throughout a day, the pieces of information within these building blocks need to be integrated. Sometimes in an easy fashion like taking an entry from one system and copying it into another system. In other circumstances, those integration processes are much more complex involving for example calling web-services, approval decisions and actions like that. Especially for a workflow / automation system it is necessary to connect to a wide variety of systems and services. Microsoft Flows role within the Power Platform is to serve as the glue and providing the interconnecting gear-wheels between systems.

Where does it fit into the Microsoft (Dynamics) world…

2018_07_PowerPlatform_02

The Power Platform and Dynamics 365

At the Microsoft Business Applications Summit, James Philips highlighted the Power platform in the context of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 world. Within the Dynamics universe the Power Platform serves as the foundation that other Dynamics services are built upon.

To be honest – I am totally no Dynamics guy – but even without my focus on Dynamics I think the Power Platform is a real powerful combination to build solutions upon.

There are several points that – in my opinion – that make the Power platform special and a technology combination to have a closer look in the future. Two of those points I would like to highlight in the following paragraphs…

Work together and integration

The initial developments of Power BI, PowerApps and Flow were separate products solving their individual problems. Over time, the product teams added more and more integration points between them.

One of the first integration points was the feature of embedding Power BI reports into Power Apps. With that, Power Apps developers can embed interactive reporting into their apps. Therefore – not only data input but also data output (reporting) in one single application.

2018_07_PowerPlatform_03

Power BI tiles in PowerApps

Power BI’s core competency is the ability to solve interactive reporting questions. As a reporting tool, Power BI has no built-in input functionality. At this point the Power BI extensibility point of using custom visuals can help. Microsoft published a custom visual – the Power Apps visual – to fill that gap. With this visual, Power BI report designers are able to embed Power Apps into the Power BI report canvas. In addition, data binding between Power BI data elements and the embedded Power App is available. With that approach you – as a Power BI report developer – can now use Power Apps to get user input within your Power BI report (or even dashboard).

2018_07_PowerPlatform_04

PowerApp embedded in a Power BI dashboard

Power Apps itself can talk to numerous different data sources and systems directly. But when it comes to interaction with different systems in a more flexible and powerful way (for example to start a sort of workflow when a user hits a save or submit button in the Power App) – Microsoft Flow enters the stage. Power Apps developers can directly create or bind workflows created with Microsoft Flow within the Power Apps designer. Just imagine a Power App that triggers a Microsoft Flow to submit the entered information into a database and in the same workflow calls a webservice to start a process in a third-party system.

 

2018_07_PowerPlatform_05

Example Microsoft Flow

When it comes to Flow’s data/service connectivity I would like to highlight the integration with Power BI datasets. Using the Power BI connector in Flow you can add rows to a Power BI (streaming) dataset directly. That approach provides a nice way of developing end-to-end solutions that react directly to user input (in Power Apps), data processing (in Flow) and real-time reporting (in Power BI).

Hint: In my theatre session at the Business Applications Summit I gave a short introduction into that kind of end-to-end solution. I presented the development of an interactive scoreboard using Power Apps for data input, Flow for data ingestion into a Power BI streaming dataset and a real-time Power BI dashboard. And all this will be developed live in the 20 minutes on stage! 😊

Share a common platform

When it comes to data connectivity, all three products are shipped with a huge list of data connectors. Some of those services are cloud services, some of them are on-premises services. For the access to on-premises services the Power Platform shares the gateway technology. All of them can be linked with on-premises services by using the On-Premises Data Gateway. (Remark: The On-Premises Data Gateway also provides connectivity for other services like Azure Analysis Services, …..)

Talking about the data storage and handling aspect, the Common Data Model (CDM) serves as a central part of data organization within the Dynamics 365 universe. Think about the Common Data Model as a data model that contains most of the commonly used business entities like Accounts, Customers, their properties, processes and relationships between them. And the best, you do not have to model these entities on your own – Microsoft already did the hard work and provides you with a predefined set of those definitions. If those definitions do not fit perfectly to your requirements, you can customize those definitions based on your needs.

The Common Data Model defines the model of entities, the Common Data Services (CDS for Apps) is the service that runs the data storage & handling and modelling capabilities. The CDS itself is used by Dynamics applications (not all of them are 100 % CDM-based (as of the Business Applications Summit in July 2018) and you can use the CDS with Power Apps. Either you build canvas-based Power Apps that can read and write data to CDM objects in the Common Data Service OR you build a model-based Power App that really incorporates the definitions in the Common Data Model. Those model-based application use the definitions in the CDM and auto-generate an application to create new entities, update entity properties or follow a defined workflow.

A new technology piece has been announced for Power BI that also uses data model definitions based on the Common Data Model. As of the Business Applications Summit, Power BI dataflows are planned to provide a service-based ETL pipeline for building up self-service data pools. Those data-pools flows contain data entities that are – by default – based on CDM definitions. As already mentioned, if the Common Data Model does not contain a definition you need to store your requirements – feel free to customize the entity definitions. Power BI dataflows are currently available in private preview only. According to the product team there will be a public preview in the near future for your testing.

To summarize.

Those readers of this blog that know me, know that I am very passionate about Power BI. In my overall technology career, I’ve never seen a Microsoft Product that evolved that fast and in that many directions. In addition, the Power BI team spirit is – in my opinion – a strong driver of innovation. Getting monthly updates for Power BI Desktop, every 2-3 weeks updates of the Power BI service, multiple releases of the Power BI Report Server is not the kind of release cycles we were used to. But times and spirits changed and what I felt at the Business Applications Summit is, that also the other teams within the Power Platform universe are driving their products in a very innovate, open and solution-focused way.

Especially open communication is a thing that really is different to the past. In the past, Microsoft external customers (and even MVPs that usually have a tighter connection to the product teams) were not shared an immediate or more general roadmap with. That changed completely and in April 2018, the first Business Applications Release notes were published (https://aka.ms/businessappsreleasenotes). In the initial announcement those release notes were summarized in a more than 200 page PDF document describing the features that the Business Applications team planned to implement in the next 6 months. Some months later, the Business Applications Release Notes got a dedicated section at docs.microsoft.com [LINK] and are updated on a regular basis. So please keep in mind that the Spring 2018 and the newly announced October 2018 release notes will be updated regularly with more specific information about which feature will be released when.

Coming back to the overall Power Platform thing, I am totally convinced and more than totally excited 😊 about the possibilities that the integrative approach of those three technologies will bring to our business future. Coming from the Power BI side and having a software development background I am eagerly looking for ideas and projects where I can try and build solutions based on the Power platform.

Exciting times are ahead of us!

Cheers, Wolfgang

 

LINKS

Posted in Business Applications, Power Platform, PowerBI | 1 Comment