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Microsoft Debuts Cloud-Based Power BI
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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 7:06:40 PM
Re: the realities of Power BI today
The story only discussed exposing corporate databases/source to Power BI environment. It did not discuss the blending of on-premises Microsoft BI systems/assets with Power BI in the cloud. The price difference between the Excel-inclusive ProPlus version of PowerBI and the non-Excel-inclusive (Standalone) versions of Power BI is $168, not $500. Finally, I'd point out that Cindi Howson, an analyst, was quoted withing this article as critical of the overlaps among the various interfaces. She also pointed out the lack of an enterprise data model.

Otherwise, you have lots of good questions here, though many are about the status of on-premises products from Microsoft, which this story did not cover. I'm going to ask Microsoft to respond to the specifics on Power BI capabilities on Power Pivot and Power View that you point out -- and perhaps they'll have more to say about your other comments.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
2/11/2014 | 10:18:04 AM
Re: Connectivity is covered
Interesting statement, Doug. I am IT, I write extranet web applications, and it's not clear to me. I'm sure you can set something up to DUPLICATE your database to a cloud database so it can be accessed. But good luck taking your SAP system database running on private internal network and linking it to this. Someone has grossly oversimplified this to you, it is not trivial. If IT has ability to do all this, why pay rent when they can run their own BI solution on the resources they already have?

Using Sharepoint Online comes in many flavors. How many people are paying for the Enterprise version with all these advanced tools versus the basic Sharepoint you get with the free version? I couldn't even afford to BUY the Enterprise licenses for our inhouse install, much less pay lifetime rent in Sharepoint Online.

I suspect users of Office 365 and Sharepoint Online don't have sophisticated inhouse ERP systems to link to. I'd be interested in seeing an article from you guys on what exactly is going on out there in this world.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Ninja
2/10/2014 | 8:54:21 PM
Microsoft cloud offerings benefit existing customers....
Power BI illustrates Microsoft's problem in the cloud. It ties together three things that customers are already familiar with, Power Point, SQL Server and Excel. and opens avenues of collaboration. Those already knowledgeable in the Microsoft product line will benefit. Those who are not, will probably be happier with the tools they're using that originated in the cloud, such as Amazon's Red Shift, Amazon RDS and DynamoDB. Microsoft is carrying existing customers to the cloud. But can it lure new customers away from their existing cloud services? Not this way, I don't think.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 3:30:52 PM
Connectivity is covered
Any company that is used to working with Office 365 has already crossed the bridge of linking on-premises assets and data sources to the cloud. This starts with the move of Exchange and email to the cloud. Microsoft has a battery of common tools for managing both on-premises and Azure cloud-based capabilites. These include Microsoft System Center for administrative control and Active Directory for access control and security. In short, if they're working with Office 365 and Sharepoint Online, IT knows how to make a database and others assets accessible on Azure and through Power BI.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
2/10/2014 | 1:42:39 PM
Re: Excel hell in the cloud?
Not sure I completely understand the technical aspects of this. Most Corp databases sit behind a firewall/proxy server. As someone who makes frequent use of Excel as the presentation layer, connecting by ODBC (or something like that) to database, it is going to take some real work to get this to work across a proxy/firewall. And few Corps are willing to open ports/protocols to do stuff like this.

You'd have to create some kind of web service to return the data, and quite possibly put up reverse proxy to use the web service. You would not be fetching this data with simple ODBC connection string like you do internally.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 1:27:25 PM
Re: Excel hell in the cloud?
Corporate collaborators presumably start with controlled data from the corporate data warehouse, and there are ways to keep that data up-to-data after it's embedded in a data analysis. That said, Howson's warning in this story is that Power BI gives users the liberty to mashup data and create one-off data models that might drift from the single source of corporate truth. Microsoft has erred on the side of access and ease of use. Excel is always treated as Microsoft's ace in the hole, so like it or not, customers will have to live witht he consequences of that freedom, attempting to use IT controls and data update features to prevent multiple versions of the truth. 

The flip side for other tools is that they don't enjoy ubiquitous understanding and acceptance. And as Microsoft points out, the first thing many rivals build into third-party BI environments is tools for exporting and uploading data sets to Excel. Users inevitably want to take the analysis further.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 1:12:38 PM
BI Sites are akin to SharePoint Sites
SharePoint is part of the Office 365 experience, and BI Sites make use core SharePoint site-creation capabilities, but embedded within the confines of Power BI. That way you don't have to go off to a separate environment. These are Web-based collaboration spaces in the context of data analysis.

 
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 1:04:14 PM
Excel hell in the cloud?
BI evangelists have been warning us about "Excel hell" forever. So is this just going to be Excel hell in the cloud? Or is this a simpler way to do BI?
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 12:40:19 PM
Power BI And?
Doug, do you envision most companies using this in concert with SharePoint -- or will this offer a way for many users to get the job done without SharePoint?


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