Power BI Basics
This page provides a simple overview of Power BI for consumers and authors at UWM. It covers basic license types and sharing without addressing some of the more advanced product functionality and licensing options. For a deep dive into the details of the Power BI service, please see the related Power BI Advanced document.
What is Power BI?
Power BI is a business intelligence (BI) tool created by Microsoft which combines industry-leading visualization and data analysis capabilities with tight integration with other Microsoft 365 (previously Office 365) offerings to create impressive dashboards and reports. Power BI was recently announced as the new ad-hoc reporting tool of choice for campus, and the technical and support infrastructure are currently being developed to support campus users.
There are two basic Power BI components:
Power BI Desktop: This is free software that enables you to connect, transform and visualize the data on your desktop or laptop PC (no Mac version available). You can connect to various data sources, create a data model, and build visualizations for users to interact with that data, and then save that file on your local desktop. You can request the Desktop tool here.
The Power BI Service: This is a cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) used to publish and share reports made in the Power BI Desktop tool. It exists within Microsoft 365 as the online space where developers share dashboards, reports and datasets. Core concepts of the Power BI service include dashboards, reports, workbooks, datasets, and dataflows which are organized and segmented into workspaces.
Power BI Licenses and Sharing
There are two Power BI license types which are assigned to individual Microsoft 365 users:
Power BI Free licenses are assigned to all UWM faculty and staff with an EMPL1 designation and allow you to consume content in Premium Workspaces (see below) and publish content to your own personal workspace—Free users are not able to share content with other users through the Power BI service.
Power BI Pro licenses allow you to share your data, reports, and dashboards freely with other users who also have a Power BI Pro license. You can also create and be a contributing member of workspaces, publishing content for other campus users.
There is also one other component which is important for understanding Power BI sharing functionality:
The Power BI Premium Capacity is not a per-user license like Free or Pro. Instead, it provides dedicated server resources that can be applied on a per-workspace basis. Premium Workspaces can host large datasets, reusable data flows for updating commonly used data, and most importantly, share published Power BI content with anyone with a Free license. There are significant, additional funding costs for UWM departments wishing to utilize these additional server resources. Click here for more information on campus Service Design Priorities.
To recap – Power BI authors who will only be developing content in Power BI Desktop do not need a Power BI license. Power BI authors who want to distribute that content through the Power BI Service will need a Pro license to share and create and manage workspaces for their users. Power BI consumers will either need a Pro license or a Free license (if they are consuming content published in a Premium Workspace).
Authors are strongly encouraged to view the Power BI Advanced document for more information, including examples of common UWM reporting scenarios and advice on deciding on the best license structure and workspace configuration based on their specific distribution needs.
Obtaining Power BI Licenses
Power BI Free licenses are automatically assigned to all UWM faculty and staff during ePanther provisioning. Power BI Pro license requests must be submitted through the Data Access Request form, and will be reviewed to assess need and determine additional security for higher-risk data or more broadly distributed content.
Campus Power BI Support & Training
There is currently no formal support or training provided for UWM employees in creating or using Power BI content. Users are encouraged to check out the resources below:
- Microsoft Power BI Guided Learning at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/guided-learning/
- Check out one of the many LinkedIn Power BI courses (formerly Lynda.com, UWM has a free subscription) at https://www.linkedin.com/learning/search?keywords=Microsoft+Power+BI
- Microsoft’s Power BI documentation covers everything from the basics dashboard creation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/
For information on converting Hyperion .bqy files to Power BI, please refer to this document: Converting-Hyperion-Queries-to-Power-BI