Introduction to Power BI – Power BI Basics
Microsoft Power BI has three main components:
Power BI Desktop (the report authoring tool)
The Power BI Service (used for distribution and consumption)
The Power BI mobile app (used for consumption).
Power BI Desktop
Microsoft Power BI Desktop is a Windows based software application. This tool, which is not used by consumers (end users), is used by report builders (developers or analysts) to connect to data sources, model this data and author reports within the desktop version of Power BI. Power BI Desktop can connect to a wide range of data sources, e.g. big data, cloud based data sources (using the web) or data stored in databases like SQL server. As Power BI Desktop is updated monthly, it is important to ensure your version is kept up to date.
Power BI Query
The ‘power’ of Power BI Desktop comes not only from the powerful analytics capabilities through the functionality of visuals and ability to create measures and metrics (KPIs) with ease. Microsoft Power BI Desktop is also bundled with a another ‘power’ tool called Power Query. This tool is used for the Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) process that every business intelligence solution requires. Power Query, empowers users to perform complex transformations to data, cleaning and enhancing data as needed, before loading the data into the Power BI data model (database). Thanks to the user friendly graphical interface, learning SQL to extract data from a SQL Server or any other type of data source, whether stored in the cloud (web based platforms) or on premises, is not required. Once the required reports are built within Power BI Desktop, an author can publish the reports to either the Power BI service (the web) or the Power BI Report Server.
The Power BI Service
The Microsoft Power BI service is a cloud based platform where reports that are published from Power BI Desktop are are consumed by Power BI users in the web. This is also where Power BI Dashboards are created. Dashboards are only created in the Power BI service, not in Power BI Desktop. To view Power BI content shared in the cloud, either a per user license, known as Power BI pro licenses or Power BI premium is required by both Power BI users and report builders. Power BI premium comes with an additional range of services and tools like Power BI embedded which allows reports to be embedded into a custom app or web portal as a white labelled solution. Power BI embedded allows you to securely share Power BI content outside of the Power BI service without the end users needing a relationship with Microsoft. Per user Power BI premium licenses are also available.
Our blog also provides frequent new posts on the different features like Power BI mobile, Power BI premium and Power BI embedded, helping you create reports and dashboards for your users that drive decision making.