Today Power BI… the application as a service available at PowerBI.com … is a year old and the Power BI community is celebrating with a very special video produced by Adam Saxton and Paul Turley. I’d like to contribute to the bestowment of birthday wishes with a few thoughts of my own today.
For much of my BI career, most of the Microsoft BI stack has been packaged with SQL Server and has changed only with a new release of SQL Server—sometimes subtly, sometimes hugely. However, Power BI is unique in the Microsoft BI stack with its frequency of updates. Each month brings something new and it’s exciting to see new features extending the capabilities of Power BI at such a rapid pace! (You can find a complete list of monthly updates here.)
The past year’s success for Power BI is built on a foundation of many years of work and dedication from a variety of teams at Microsoft, all of whom deserve big congratulations on this achievement! As part of my latest Pluralsight course, Getting Started with Power BI (released last month), I included a high-level review of the evolution of Power BI as shown below. Creating this timeline brought back a lot of memories ranging from my first experiences with PowerPivot in Excel 2010 to my recent work with a client to embed Power BI into an application.
My earliest memory happens to be my fondest memory. I was attending a Birds of a Feather session at TechEd 2010 led by Andrew Brust in which there was a lively discussion among the participants. Many of those present were DBAs who were horrified by the thought of people gaining access to data with few controls and little oversight. I mentioned that although DBAs understandably want to control access to data, they could go to the extreme by only allowing them to view data in a PDF. Even then, people will still go to the trouble to manually input it into a spreadsheet to do the analysis they need. Therefore, we need to find ways to support responsible data usage, and PowerPivot was a great first step.
But that’s not the fond memory. I’m only setting the scene. The best part of that session was a comment made by a guy sitting in a corner of the room. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and (probably) Birkenstocks. He reminded me of a surfer dude. Actually, he wasn’t so much sitting as he was draped across a couple of chairs, looking very relaxed and very bemused by the conversation. He finally piped up and said, “Hey man, let the data be free!”.
I love that memory and share it often when introducing my students to Power BI in its current form. (Of course, we need to remain mindful of internal policies and regulatory requirements when allowing users to get their data. But that needs to be managed at the database level anyway, so carry on.)
Fast forward to 2016 and the current incarnation of Power BI, the DBAs that I know personally are more supportive of Power BI models and my clients are super excited about enhancing their applications to finally truly support self-service BI. As I work on a variety of projects, I am adding several new memories to my repertoire to share in the future. Thanks, Power BI, and may we share many more happy birthdays to come!
FreeImages.com/goodmorph-50365 – hawaiian fabric
FreeImages.com/melodi2 – cake