Power BI Report Server is now generally available, announced Microsoft during the company's PASS Summit 2017 in Seattle Oct. 31–Nov. 3.
The software solution from Microsoft allows organizations to store and distribute reports generated by the cloud-based Power BI business intelligence and analytics application in-house rather than on Microsoft's cloud.
The August 2017 preview version of the software built on the ability to use information from SQL Server Analysis Services data sources (a feature that debuted in June) as the basis of those reports, extending support to all the data sources supported by Power BI.
In the official release of Power BI Report Server, users can now set the data refresh schedules on reports that require connections to other systems to deliver business insights.
"Now, users can set data refresh schedules for their Power BI reports that are using any of over two dozen data sources. This includes all the most popular data sources customers use in the Power BI Service, including SQL Server, Oracle, Excel Workbooks, SAP HANA and many others," explained Christopher Finlan, senior program manager at Microsoft Power BI, in a Nov. 1 blog post.
"You can even set multiple refresh schedules for each report, enabling even more control around how often you update your data," Finlan added. Microsoft has also increased the file size limit of file uploads used for the data refresh process to 2GB.
For users seeking to create reports using live source data, Microsoft has added Direct Query support. The feature currently supports SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, Oracle, SAP HANA and SAP BW [Business Warehouse] and Teradata.
Developers can now use the REST API (application programming interface) for Power BI Report server to extend the software's capabilities. The API, a successor to ReportingService2010 SOAP API, has been extended to support the variety of report types in supported in the new software.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is working to build on Power BI's "viral" growth to help businesses instill a "data culture" within their organizations, said Kamal Hathi general manager at Microsoft Power BI. More than 11.5 million data models are hosted on the service, with an estimated 30,000 being added daily, according to the company's figures. Power BI also handles two million report and dashboard queries per hour.
"Data is the currency of decision making, it's the currency of power," Hathi told eWEEK. "Insights on data is true power," not the interpersonal and office politics that often stand in the way of successful business outcomes.
"It's all about data and insights, and that's a data culture," he added, noting that Microsoft's recent successes are due, in part, to the widespread internal use of Power BI at the company and the data culture it enables.
One way Microsoft is helping businesses create successful data cultures of their own is by embracing one of the most enduring traditions in practically all types of cultures—storytelling.
With the In Power BI Desktop report and dashboard authoring client software, Microsoft is "adding very sophisticated capabilities around storytelling," Hathi said. "We enable you to go up and not just work with charts, but build compelling data stories" that can be used to create easy-to-follow presentations.