Power BI is a self-service, analytical reporting tool. Power BI is available to anyone with an Azure Active Directory account, which includes all Office 365 users. Power BI allows users to import or connect to data, combine it with different data sources, then build reports and dashboards. Once created, those reports can be shared with others and the data can be kept up to date automatically.
Power BI consists of four major components: the Power BI Service, Power BI Desktop, the On-Premises Data Gateway, and the Power BI mobile clients. The Power BI Service (app.powerbi.com) can be used on its own to work with data in Excel, text files, or in Analysis Services. Most commonly, reports are created and designed using Power BI Desktop, and then deployed to the Power BI Service.
Power BI Desktop utilizes the same data import technology (Power Query) and data modeling engine (Power Pivot) with Excel. Data models built in Excel can be connected to the service and used as is or imported into Power BI Desktop. The Power BI Service can connect to your data wherever it is, on-premises or in the cloud. On-premises connections are made via the On-Premises Data Gateway. The OPDG is also used by Microsoft Flow and PowerApps for both read and write data operations (Power BI is read-only).
Power BI has a mobile app for all major mobile platforms. The mobile app allows people in the field quick access to their important reports. Reports can be designed for the mobile app specifically.
- What is Power BI? [Microsoft]
- Power BI Desktop [Download]
- On-Premises Data Gateway [Microsoft]
- Power BI Blot [Download]
- John White, SharePoint MVP