Microsoft Improves Power BI Management for Enterprises

New administrator controls for Power BI data source management are among some of this week's updates to Microsoft's business intelligence platform.

Microsoft Power BI gateways

Power BI gateways enable users of Microsoft's business intelligence (BI) tool to dig into their organizations' data. Now, with the new beta of Power BI Gateway for enterprise deployments, IT administrators can assert better control over their users' data exploration and visualization activities.

The new software, available on the company's Website, provides "centralized and IT-managed access to on-premises data sources for organizations/departments," said Microsoft in a Dec. 2 announcement. Foremost, the tool helps administrators configure and manage Power BI gateways for multiple users.

Also key is the ability to manage data sources, user credentials and access control. "Gateway administrators can add data sources to the gateway by providing credentials," stated the company. "The gateway administrators also control which users can access the data source from Power BI using this gateway."

Finally, the enterprise IT administrator-friendly Power BI gateway supports live connections to on-premises SQL Server databases with DirectQuery mode switched on. "This means that you can view the latest data from Power BI without the need to schedule a refresh. With live connections, there is no limit on the size of the model as data is not stored in the model," stated Microsoft's Power BI group. Support for live connections to SQL Server Analysis Services models will arrive in the coming weeks.

For end users, Microsoft announced a new addition to the Power BI Visuals Gallery, the Scroller visualization from Power BI consultant Fredrik Hedenström. Instead of charts and graphs, Scroller can display Power BI information in a ticker format, similar to indicators that scroll along the bottom of financial news channels on TV.

"The Scroller visual makes it possible to create an animating scrolling text from your measures and dimensions. It will be especially useful when displaying a dashboard on a large screen in a reception, on a production floor or something similar," wrote Amir Netz, a Microsoft technical fellow in a Dec. 3 blog post.

"Since it is constantly moving, it will catch the viewer's eye and make existing reports come more to life. You can also write your own custom text to use it to display a message or instruction," continued Netz. The included customization options allow users to tailor the Scroller to their needs. "Various settings make it possible to control speed, size, status indications, coloring, etc."

SEO experts have a new tool to help optimize their search strategies, the Bing content pack for Power BI. The software generates analytics based on a user-provided search term, according to Microsoft program manager, Theresa Palmer.

"Once loaded, you'll see a new dashboard with 6 tiles related to your search term," Palmer stated in a Dec. 2 announcement. "You can see the activity and volume of searches for the last week, including a week over week calculation." Other tiles show the top locations and languages for a given search term, along with recent headlines.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...