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Power BI Architecture & Components: How Does It Work?

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17th Mar, 2020
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Power BI Architecture & Components: How Does It Work?

Power BI is one of the most popular data analytics solutions out there. What is it? What are its components? And how does it work? You’ll find that out in this comprehensive article. 

We’ll take a look at Power BI architecture and its operation. So, without further ado, let’s get started. 

What is the Power BI?

A product of Microsoft, Power BI is a business analytics service. It provides you with interactive visualizations and business intelligence solutions. It has an extremely easy to use interface, so there’s a minimal learning curve for any beginner. 

It allows you to connect to various data sources and use Power Query for the simplification of transformation, ingestion, and integration. It has multiple built-in visuals and has the feature of custom visual creation too. The collaborative capabilities of this software make it a must-have for many enterprises as well. 

Also Read: 29 Most Commonly Power BI Interview Questions & Answers

Power BI Architecture

To understand this software better, you should take a look at the Power Bi architecture, which is made up of multiple components. We’ve discussed each one of those components in detail in the following points:

Source for Data

Power BI has a plethora of data sources. As it’s compatible with a variety of data sources, you don’t have to worry much in this regard. You can import data from online sources or a file in your local storage. It has a limit of 1 GB if you import data from online or on-premise data sources. 

The prominent data sources Power BI supports are as follows:

  • GitHub
  • Facebook
  • Google Analytics
  • Salesforce (Reports)
  • Impala
  • Sybase Database
  • XML
  • JSON
  • Amazon Redshift
  • SAP HANA
  • MySQL Database
  • Oracle Database
  • Teradata Database
  • Excel
  • Azure SQL Database
  • CSV/Text
  • HDFS (Hadoop storage)
  • Spark
  • Dynamic 365
  • MailChimp

The list is quite exhaustive, but you can understand what a variety you get when you take a look at the data sources of this solution. 

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Power BI Desktop

You can install Power Bi on your PC as well, and this downloadable component of Power Bi is Power BI Desktop. It’s a client-side software solution that’s filled with multiple tools and features to connect data sources, perform data modeling, and generate reports. The best thing about this tool is that it’s free. 

This means you don’t need to pay any fees for using it. You can download it and start using it right away. It has a ‘drag and drop’ interface that makes data visualization very easy. 

There are many features present in this desktop software, including the option to define the relationship between different data sets, creating data models and visuals, and publishing reports. Most of the business intelligence professionals use Power BI desktop to create reports. 

Learn More: Business Analytics: Tools, Applications & Benefits

Power BI Service

Power BI provides you with an on-cloud service too, which is called Power BI Service. It’s an online platform that lets you publish and share the reports you create on Power BI Desktop. Power BI Service allows you to collaborate with others on your reports and build dashboards accordingly. 

There are many names for this solution, including the ‘Power BI Site’ and “Power BI Web Portal.’ It has a free version as well as two paid versions, namely Pro and Premium. 

The Pro version gives you the option to monitor BI in the cloud and perform ad hoc analysis apart from publishing, collaboration, and sharing. 

On the other hand, the Premium version has advanced deployment and administration controls. It has capabilities to perform big data analytics and cloud reporting. 

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Power BI Report Server

This component is quite similar to the one we’ve discussed previously (Power BI Service). The difference is that Power BI Report Server is an on-premise solution and not a cloud-based solution. It’s for enterprises that prefer keeping their data with themselves and want to avoid using cloud storage.

You get the same features you get in Power BI Service, such as generating reports, building dashboards, and sharing reports with other team members. You should have a Power BI Premium subscription if you want to use this solution. 

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Power BI Gateway

The Power BI Gateway enables secure data transfers between two users. It connects on-site data sources. You can transfer the data between the on-site storage and cloud services. You get many options while choosing a cloud service, including Power BI, PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, Azure Analysis, and Azure Logic Apps. 

Power BI Embedded 

The Power BI Embedded gives you APIs that you can use to embed dashboards and reports into custom applications. It’s an on-premise service in Azure. 

Power BI Mobile

Power BI Mobile apps allow you to connect to your on-premise or cloud-stored data from anywhere by using your mobile. This component enhances the accessibility of Power BI architecture as you can access your data from anywhere at any time. The mobile apps of Power BI are available for iOS, Android, and Windows phones. 

Apart from the major components of the Power BI architecture we’ve discussed here, there are plenty of other small ones who play crucial roles as well. Some of those components are:

  • Power Pivot
  • Power BI Query
  • Power Maps
  • Power Q&A
  • Power View

Power BI Operations – How Does it Work?

Now that you know about the different parts of Power BI architecture, let’s take a look at how it operates. First, the data flows into Power BI’s parts from the sources. As we’ve already discussed, Power BI lets you connect to various kinds of data sources. You can transfer the data present into those sources into Power BI desktop. 

There, you can author, develop, and publish reports. If you’re using on-premise services, you will transfer the data to Power BI Service. And if you’re using cloud-based services, you’d send it through Power BI Gateway to the cloud. 

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Final Thoughts

We hope you found this article useful. As you can see, Microsoft Power BI is an incredible tool that’s capable of performing a variety of data analytics tasks. From collaboration to easy access, it has many features to simplify data visualization. 

If you want to find out more about Power BI, Big Data, Data Science and Machine Learning check out our blog.

If you are curious to learn about Power BI, about data science, check out IIIT-B & upGrad’s PG Diploma in Data Science which is created for working professionals and offers 10+ case studies & projects, practical hands-on workshops, mentorship with industry experts, 1-on-1 with industry mentors, 400+ hours of learning and job assistance with top firms.

Profile

Rohit Sharma

Blog Author
Rohit Sharma is the Program Director for the UpGrad-IIIT Bangalore, PG Diploma Data Analytics Program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Why is my Power BI report so slow?

Power BI is a pretty famous tool being used by businesses to generate dashboards and reports to make effective decisions for the business. Power BI is a quick tool for managing huge databases, but you might find yourself waiting for a long time before the visuals get loaded on the report.

There are plenty of reasons behind the poor performance of any Power BI report. If you use too many graphics, leave certain default options, use non-certified custom graphics, or use a huge amount of data, then there are high chances of low performance and the report being slow. This may lead to Power BI making extra efforts for loading and increasing the amount of time you have to wait.

2When should you not use Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a pretty powerful tool for generating visual reports and dashboards for all your data. This makes it easy to study patterns and trends based on the available data that is being displayed with visuals. Usually, developers prefer using Power BI for a majority of cases, but there are certain cases where you should avoid using Power BI.

3How to make Power BI faster?

Power BI is a very popular tool for creating reports and dashboards from scratch based on the available data. When you add too many widgets and functionalities, you’ll notice that Power BI is getting extremely slow and difficult to work with. This is where you need to use certain techniques to simplify the work for Power BI and make it quick enough for you. Some of them are making use of integers wherever it is possible, removing every single thing that is not being used, sticking with the default Power BI widgets, and using top-N rows in huge dataset tables.

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