Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools that deliver insights throughout your organization. Connect to hundreds of data sources, simplify data prep, and drive ad hoc analysis. Produce beautiful reports, then publish them for your organization to consume on the web and across mobile devices. Everyone can create personalized dashboards with a unique, 360-degree view of their business. And scale across the enterprise, with governance and security built-in.
As we like to tell our customers, PowerBI comes in two flavors, one as a Personal Data Analysis Tool and second as an Enterprise Data Analysis tool.
When you use PowerBI as a personal tool, it has the abilities of connecting to hundreds of data sources, pulling in and modelling the data using the powerful Power Query tool and then presenting the data in beautiful visuals using the PowerBI visualization mechanisms. In this method, data is stored inside the PowerBI file (.pbix) file. At present there is a restriction of 1 GB of compressed data per PBIX file and 10 GB of data per user.
When your data is much bigger than this, or you are working in a large corporate where in there are various other corporate policies to be applied, you may have to use PowerBI as an Enterprise Data Analysis Tool. In this scenario, the data part of the application will be handled at the SQL Server level using tools like SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) and SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS). However PowerBI will connect directly to the SSAS database without bringing in the data within the PBIX file. Only the data points needed for the report rendering will be sent to PowerBI and the report will be seen. This works very well for large data sets !
PowerBI is an evolving technology and each month new features get added to the same. It is in the Gartner’s Business Intelligence Leaders Quadrant sharing space with matured tools like Tableau and Qlikview and having a much higher ‘completeness of vision’ score and an ‘Ability to Execute’ score which is higher than Qlik and equivalent to Tableau. And all this in just two years of its birth !!!