Microsoft is announced as the leader in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence platforms for the 14th year. From 2005, Business Intelligence and the newest advancements in the field have increased the business profitability of a lot of companies globally, while significantly reducing market risks. Power BI architecture provides the tools that simplified several business issues for the companies. The salary paid to Power BI Developers is rising to US$88,000 per annum, while the experienced ones can earn as high as US$114,200 per annum, denoting the high demand for these professionals.
Below are topics that you will be reading in details today:
What is Power BI?
Microsoft’s Power BI is a collection of Business Intelligence tools such as apps, software services, and connectors that can turn raw business data into visual insights. The raw data could be from Excel spreadsheets, database tables, or a collection of cloud-based hybrid datasets.
The role of Power BI mostly depends on the projects or the teams in an organization. It can be used to view reports and dashboards, monitor progress on sales, find new lead details, and analyze market behavior. This BI tool also helps an organization plan its future actions by predicting market behavior.
Watch our tutorial on Power BI to learn more about the tool:
Now, let’s see why Power BI is better than other Business Intelligence tools available in the market.
Why Power BI?
Compared to other BI tools, MS Power BI provides better services that an organization can leverage for its market growth. Below are a few reasons that show how Power BI is a better choice in terms of cost, efficiency, and complexity, compared to other BI tools.
- Access data in different formats: Power BI can view, analyze, and visualize vast amounts of data in different formats, including Excel, pdf, XML, JSON, CSV, etc.
- Secure Data Analytics: Power BI keeps your business data secure by providing features such as sensitive labels, data loss prevention, the oversight of sensitive data with service tags, Azure virtual network, and Azure Private Link.
- BI for everyone: Microsoft provides Power BI Desktop for free and the Power BI Pro version at a very low price so that anyone can access Power BI’s cost-effective tools for their business growth.
- Get better results with industry-leading AI: The latest Microsoft AI helps non-technical individuals as well to build reports and find quick insights into their business from both structured and unstructured data, including text and images.
- Turn your insights into actions: With the Power BI app, a business can easily build chatbots to interact with its customers and employees without spending many resources.
To learn more about Power BI, check out our Power BI Tutorial.
Power BI vs Tableau
In this section, you will see the significant differences between the BI tools: Power BI vs Tableau.
|Offers numerous data points for data visualization. Users can create custom dashboards with drag-n-drop sidebars
||Mainly used for pure visualization created in the form of worksheets and dashboards
|Easy to learn and can be used by anyone for analytics purposes
||Comparatively not easy to grasp and mainly used by analysts and experienced users
|Has a simple and easy to learn interface
||A little difficult to understand for non-technical users
|Uses DAX (data analysis expressions) for measuring columns
||Deploys MDX (multidimensional expressions) for measuring dimensions
|Cheaper and easily affordable from the initial cost perspective
||Total usage cost is less in Tableau in a longer run
So far, you’ve learned about Power BI, why it is better than other BI tools, and a small comparison between Power BI and Tableau. Now, let’s discuss the architecture of Power BI in detail.
Register for the Power BI Certification if you want to do end-to-end training in Power BI.
Power BI Architecture
MS Power BI architecture consists of four major steps that explain the whole process from data sourcing to the creation of reports and dashboards. Various technologies and processes work together to get the required results with extreme precision. Let’s see those steps further.
- Sourcing data: Power BI extracts data from various servers, Excel sheets, CSV files, and databases. The extracted information can be directly imported to Power BI, or a live service link is established to receive it. If you directly import the data in Power BI, it will only be compressed up to 1 GB. Post that, you can only run live queries on your chunky datasets.
- Transforming the data: Before visualizing the data, cleaning and preprocessing of it should be done. This means removing useless or missing values from rows or columns. Following that, certain rules will be applied to transform and load the datasets into the warehouse.
- Report and publish: After cleaning and transforming the data, reports will be created based on requirements. A report is a visualization of the data with different filters and constraints presented in the form of graphs, pie charts, and other figures.
- Creating dashboards: Dashboards are created by pinning individual elements or pages of live reports. Dashboards should be created after you have published your reports to the BI service. When the reports get saved, the visual maintains the filter settings chosen so that the user can apply filters and slicers.
Components of Power BI Architecture
Below are the major Power BI components of Power BI platform architecture that play an important role to implement the BI capabilities offered by the tool.
Let’s learn about the components in detail:
- Power BI Desktop: Power BI Desktop is a free software used to convert, connect, and visualize datasets on a PC or laptop. It’s one of the most important Power BI components where you can integrate distinct information sources and combine them to form a data model. Then, you can create graphics or image collections to share them as records with other individuals in your organization.
- Power BI Service: After the reports are created on Power BI Desktop, you can publish them on the cloud using Power BI Service. The service connects users and allows them to create dashboards known as Power BI Workspace. It offers natural language Q&A and alerts, and it is available in both Power BI free and Power BI Pro versions,
- Power BI Mobile Apps: The mobile apps of Power BI keep you connected with the data no matter where you are. You can see live reports and dashboards on your iOS and Android smartphones and make better market decisions on the go. Only pro Power BI architecture provides the feature of Mobile reports and dashboards.
- Power BI Query: Power Query allows users to connect distinct information from multiple sources and convert them to satisfy their business requirements. Power Query is included in the Power Query Editor of Power BI Desktop.
- Power Q&A: Power Q&A allows business users to explore information in their own words and phrases. This natural language question and reply engine is the fastest way to get the response from your data.
- Power Map: Power BI queries offer a 3D visualization tool, Power Map, that shows differences in your datasets with shadings ranging from dark to light.
- Power Pivot: Power Pivot allows data storage with high compression, quick aggregation, and calculation. With Power Query, users can load information into it, or the pivot can load information on its own.
- Power View: For a quick and effective visualization in your Excel workbooks, you can try Power View’s drag-n-drop feature and save your time. It’s an important part of MS Power BI architecture that enables the user to quickly visualize the data in a few clicks.
Now that you know about the Power BI architecture and its components, let’s see how these components work.
Go through this Power BI Interview Questions And Answers to crack your next job interview!
Working of Power BI Architecture
The architecture is mainly divided into two parts: On-cloud and on-premises services. It will be more clear from the image. You can also consider it as a Power BI data flow Diagram that helps you understand the flow of data from On-premises to On-cloud server applications.
At the top, you will see data sources such as web browsers, Excel sheets, and other sources that feed information to various Power BI components. Power BI has various data sources, including direct connections, in-house servers, cloud databases, and more. Best practices of Power BI architecture helps you create stunning reports for better business analytics.
Here, all kinds of reports published in the Power BI Report Server are distributed to the end-user. Power Publisher enables the user to publish Excel workbooks to Power BI Report Server. Report Server and Publisher tools help you create datasets, paginated reports, mobile reports, and more.
In the Power BI Gateway architecture, the BI gateway acts as a bridge in transferring data from on-premises data sources to on-cloud servers or applications. The cloud consists of various components such as dashboards, datasets, reports, Power BI Embedded, etc. These on-cloud data sources are connected with the Power BI tools.
Learn more about the Power BI architecture from our YouTube tutorial:
Power BI Service Architecture
Now, you will move on to understanding the service architecture. It is based on two clusters. Let’s briefly discuss them further:
The Front-end Cluster
The front-end cluster acts as a medium between the client and the on-cloud servers in the Power BI data flow diagram. After the initial connection and authentication using Azure Active Directory, the client can interact with the datasets located across the globe.
The Back-end Cluster
The back-end cluster manages datasets, storage, reports, visualizations, data connections, data refreshing, and other services in Power BI. At the cluster, web clients have only two points to interact with the information, i.e., Azure API Management and Gateway Role. These components are responsible for authorizing, routing, authentication, load balancing, etc.
Now that you know about the Power BI architecture and its working, let’s discuss the Power BI dashboard and the unique features of Power BI.
Power BI Dashboard
Power BI dashboard is a single-page visualization generated from different reports based on your datasets. In other words, it is a canvas that brings different elements representing multiple datasets together. A report can be of multiple pages, but a dashboard will only be of a single page.
Data visualizations attached to a BI dashboard are called tiles. You can alter these tiles by adding or removing some of them as per requirements.
Watch our tutorial on how to create Power BI dashboards:
Power BI Features
Toward the end of this blog on Power BI architecture, you will read about the various features of Power BI.
- Interactive reports authoring: You can apply filter and sorting operations to expose the target columns and create highly customized reports. These reports provide an overview of the current situation, which helps you run appropriate queries on the entire database.
- DAX data analysis function: Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) is a library that can be combined to build expressions and formulas for new measures and visualizations in Power BI, Analysis Services, and Power Pivot.
- Flexible tiles: Talking about customization, you can add, remove, or edit various properties of every tile on the dashboard and achieve your business goals.
- Q&A question box: It enables you to run queries on the data in the form of natural sentences and voice commands. Power BI uses Cortana’s Deep Learning technology to identify the commands given by the user.
- Stream analytics: Power BI provides stream analytics, i.e., processing data while it is in motion. This feature assists real-time analytics of the ‘in-motion data through different websites, sales, social media, and other sources to make timely decisions.
- Help and Feedback buttons: You get 24/7 assistance from Microsoft’s support team as it resolves any issue or question you have in mind.
- Customizable dashboards: In case the default standards are not able to meet your requirements, you can access custom visualization libraries to process the datasets and create custom dashboards.
- Dataset filtration: With Power BI, you can create visualizations using data filtrations and have smaller subsets of contextual relevance or important information.
So far, you have learned what Power BI is, its architecture, and its features that help a business perform better in the market. Now, let’s go through a case study of Meijer and see how Power BI helped the company grow its business.
Case Study of Meijer
Meijer is a chain of more than 230 departmental stores spread across six states. With a history of innovation of more than 50 years, Meijer has been selling all kinds of products in the United States. However, in this challenging time of a pandemic with big online competitors, staying profitable has been very difficult for Meijer.
Once being a single store, it was easier for Meijer to understand customer behavior and act accordingly, but eventually, they faced a dire need for advanced technology to do the same for all its stores. Recently, Meijer connected with Power BI to understand its customer behavior.
Power BI allowed Meijer to refresh more than 20 billion rows of data in real-time. Now, the teams can pull in the data faster and create real-time reports on every-hour sales and make better market decisions.
Power BI can extract data from multiple sources and provide custom visualization. It also provides real-time analytics on both structured and unstructured data for different devices.
The point to note here is that the Power BI solution architecture has made the process of creating reports fairly easy for non-technical users so that companies can save time, effort, and resources. Small businesses can use Power BI Desktop to create the reports and dashboards of datasets without much hassle.
If you have any queries, please drop them in Intellipaat’s Business Intelligence Community to start a discussion with your peers.