Microsoft Power BI Now Integrated With Azure Data Lake Storage

The data integration makes it much easier for users of Power BI to share data with users of Azure for a wide range of business tasks.

Power BI

Microsoft Power BI users can now collaborate directly with Azure users using data stored in Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 through new integration capabilities recently unveiled by Microsoft.

The new capabilities were announced by Ben Sack, program manager for Power BI, in a recent post on the PowerBI Blog.

"With this integration, business analysts and BI professionals working in Power BI can easily collaborate with data analysts, engineers, and scientists working in Azure," wrote Sack. "These new features free valuable time and resources previously spent extracting and unifying data from different sources, so your team can focus on turning data into insights."

So far, the integration involves the Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 preview version. The move is aimed at helping business organizations unify their data across Power BI and Azure data services.

The latest integration follows Power BI self-service data preparation capabilities with dataflows  that were announced in November, according to Sack. Those dataflow capabilities made it possible for business analysts and BI professionals to author and manage complex data prep tasks using familiar self-service tools, he wrote.

To help business analysts and data professionals extract, organize and use data from different sources, Power BI and Azure data services leverage Common Data Model (CDM) folders as the standard to store and describe data, using Azure Data Lake Storage as the shared storage layer, wrote Sack. "CDM folders contain schematized data and metadata in a standardized format, to facilitate data exchange and to enable full interoperability across services that produce or consume data stored in an organization’s Azure Data Lake Storage account."

By using the dataflows, any authorized Power BI user can build semantic models on top of their data, adding to their capabilities. "Because dataflows already store data in CDM folders, the integration between Power BI and Azure Data Lake makes it possible for any authorized person or service to easily leverage dataflow data, using CDM folders as a shared standard," wrote Sack.

In addition, with the introduction of the CDM folder standard and developer resources, authorized services and people can also create and store CDM folders in their organization's Azure Data Lake Storage account. Those folders can then be added to Power BI as a dataflow, which allows users to build semantic models on top of the data in Power BI, further enrich it or process it from other dataflows, according to the post.

Through the new integration, Power BI users can now connect an Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 account to Power BI, configure workspaces to store dataflow definition and data files in CDM folders in Azure Data Lake, and attach CDM folders created by other services to Power BI as dataflows. Users can also create datasets, reports, dashboards and apps using dataflows created from CDM folders in Azure Data Lake, wrote Sack.

The new Power BI capabilities are available immediately for all Power BI Pro, Power BI Premium and Power BI Embedded customers who have an Azure Data Storage account.

To help users get started with the new integrations, Microsoft created a tutorial and sample scenarios for how data sharing works between Power BI and Azure data services.

"Today, Power BI and Azure data services are taking the first steps to enable data exchange and interoperability through the Common Data Model and Azure Data Lake Storage," with more features to be added as they are ready, wrote Sack.