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James Serra's Blog

James is currently a Senior Business Intelligence Architect/Developer and has over 20 years of IT experience. James started his career as a software developer, then became a DBA 12 years ago, and for the last five years he has been working extensively with Business Intelligence using the SQL Server BI stack (SSAS, SSRS, and SSIS). James has been at times a permanent employee, consultant, contractor, and owner of his own business. All these experiences along with continuous learning has helped James to develop many successful data warehouse and BI projects. James has earned the MCITP Business Developer 2008, MCITP Database Administrator 2008, and MCITP Database Developer 2008, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. His blog is at .

Power BI for Office 365 preview released

I first blogged about Power BI for Office 365 two months ago (see Power BI for Office 365) when it was announced.  Microsoft has started inviting participants subscribed to the Power BI for Office 365 Preview to test the prerelease version of Power BI.

Power BI is aimed at those starting to transition to BI and those who want to provision BI solutions in the cloud.  It combines some familiar and emerging Excel data modeling and visualization capabilities with cloud-based collaboration.  The aim, per Microsoft, is to empower knowledge workers in organizations to create their own data sets and queries in a “self-service” business intelligence (BI) scenario.

Many of the capabilities currently exist in Excel tools, and Microsoft considers Power BI for Office 365 to be an extension of its existing BI systems.  It is not a replacement for what you can do on premise, but you can go that route when you don’t have BI on premise.

Here are all the components that make up Power BI for Office 365 (chart from :

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As mentioned in Jen Underwood’s Microsoft Power BI First Public Preview, Power BI is limited to stand-alone, Office 365 hosted Excel 2013 PowerPivot files.  There’s no Multidimensional or Tabular flavor of professional SQL Server Analysis Services in the Office 365 Power BI cloud world so Power BI is more of a Personal or Departmental BI offering.  The supported Office 365 Excel PowerPivot file sizes have greatly increased from 10MB to 250MB uncompressed (and with compression you can use much larger spreadsheets).

More info:

Microsoft Power BI First Public Preview

Power BI (Part 1 – Getting Started)

Power BI (Part 2 – The Data Management Gateway)

Navigating the Power BI Site in Office 365

Power BI Preview Review

Power BI Preview Review Part 2: Q&A

Microsoft Power BI for Office 365 – New Samples Video Launched – View Now!

Update Your Power BI On Premises Data Management Gateway

Microsoft Updates Power BI for Office 365 Preview with New Natural Language Search, Mapping Capabilities

Microsoft adds natural language search over data to Office 365

Power BI – Working With the Data Management Gateway

Power Map for Excel earns new name with significant updates to 3D visualizations and storytelling

First Look Office 365 Power BI

Video From Data to Insight & Impact: Preview of the Q&A Feature of Power BI


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