Power BI Azure Synapse Analytics

Power BI is a well known and widely used Business Intelligence software tool.

It is widely used often because many users have Power BI because they’re Windows users and Power BI comes with Windows. It’s probably fair to say that users of the Power BI platform often don’t always fully assess the BI tools market since they mostly have what they need in Power BI

Despite Microsoft’s ability to update the Power BI platform on an almost constant basis, its capabilities aren’t always viewed as the most innovative on the market.

This could be about to change with Microsofts introduction of Power BI Azure Synapse Analytics.

Power BI Azure Synapse Analytics aims to integrate data warehousing and data analytics in a single BI cloud service that provides the functionality and tooling from both Microsoft Power BI and Azure Machine Learning.

Azure Synapse Analytics

ASA can be summarised as the next step in the evolution of Azure SQL Data Warehouse as the diagram below illustrates

Power BI Azure Synapse Analytics

What is Azure Synapse Analytics?

Azure Synapse is a limitless analytics service from Microsoft that brings together enterprise data warehousing and Big Data analytics. It gives you the freedom to query data on  using either serverless on-demand or provisioned resources and the ability scale up or down as demand, performance and sizing dictates.

Azure Synapse Analytics combines Azure Data Factory with Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

You can still “buy” Azure Data Factory standalone but Azure SQL Data Warehouse is now Azure Synapse Analytics.

Micrsoft does not include Power BI or Azure Machine Learning into the Azure Synapse Analytics service directly, integrations are built-in at the metadata and user interface levels, so toolsets and functionality of PBI and machibne learning are available to users.

However whilst Power BI and Azure Machine Learning are treated as integration services in the longer run it seems logical that Microsoft will bundle them into Azure Synapse.

Power BI Review Disadvantages Advantages Pros Cons

Power BI Review – Power BI is a business intelligence and analytics tool provided by Microsoft. It provides interactive visualisations with self-service business intelligence capabilities.

Microsoft Power BI is a solid and proven BI solution that has a large and growing user base and solid support ecosystem both online and from reputable Microsoft partners and vendors.

Most organisations find they have a lot of data but very little insights and to that end Power BI is a rich and fully featured powerful cloud-based service that helps business users, Management Information owners and data scientists visualise and share insights from their organisations’ data.

Power BI offers the capability to access data from more than 40 different data sources and databases covering everything from SQL2019 to Hadoop and Mongo, Azure and even Spark based architectures.

power bi review

There are two ways of accessing Power BI:

1. Via windows desktop (mainly targeted at developers)
2. Via a cut-down browser version (mainly targeted at Execs and report consumers)

To undertake real data manipulation, analysis and development you will need the Windows version of Power BI.

Microsoft is developing Power BI at a rapid rate and new versions and functionality are being released to keep the product ahead of the game.

There is a wealth of online reporting and visualisation templates that can be used to quickly generate eye catching graphics, maps and data visualisations. These are very easy to use and help non technical users get valuable reports and MI to market quickly. This is one of the key strengths of Power BI over and above other market leaders in this space such as Tableau and Spotfire.

Power BI is easy to use and given it’s vast corporate user base from it’s Microsoft SQL heritage is a real Enterprise Business Intelligence tool.

Power BI also serves well as a Mobile BI tool – ideal for presenting information to one the move senior execs via a range of dashboards and easy to drill down visualisations.

Power BI Pricing

Power BI pricing falls into two brackets; free and paid for.

For the Pro version you can use this for as little as £10 a month with a 10GB data allowance – this is plenty considering that most users will never fall into the Big Data brackets.

Power BI Review

Usability ★ ★ ★ ★ ✰
Cost        ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Support  ★ ★ ★ ★ ✰
Overall   ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Power BI Pros and Cons

Power BI Advantages

One major advantage of Power BI is the pricing (free) and the fact that it is a cloud-based service that is easy to implement and requires minimal IT engineering or involvement. The only requirement is to sign up and download the technology to start gaining insight and evaluating organisational business data.

Power BI Disadvantages

One of the major limitation of Power BI is that it doesn’t have the ability to publish reports with all associated data. This means some information can be left out of visualisations.

Other Disadvantages of Power BI are:

  • Very few data sources
  • 1GB file limit for non Premium versions