Power BI Report Server – Resources

Power BI Report Server (PBIRS) – Notes and Resources

This blog article will serve as a running notebook for information and findings related to Power BI Report Server, also known as PBIRS

What is Power BI Report Server (PBIRS)?

PBIRS is a recently released Microsoft server product that allows a company to host on-premises Power BI dashboards (as well as traditional SSRS reports).

It’s very similar to SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services). Perhaps because it’s a specialized version of SSRS?

The latest GA release, October 2017, brings the following new capabilities: (Read the official release notes here: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/reportserver-whats-new/

  • A variety of data sources are supported. (Previous versions could only utilize Analysis Services as a data source.) Which sources? click here.
  • Schedule data refresh is possible for some of the data sources. (See link above)
  • You can open and edit Power BI Report (.pbix) files from the server (Not ON the server, you still need the desktop client).
  • Maximum upload size is now 2 GB, with a default of 1 GB.
  • You can access OData feeds
  • Scale-out with load-balancers is now supported.
  • New administrator settings
  • Developer REST API updated to support Power BI Report Server
  • PBIRS now hosts SSAS internally.
  • You can add an Office Online Server (OOS) node to allow viewing and interacting with Excel workbooks , purely in the web browser.
  • Support for the new table and matrix visuals – requires the Power BI Desktop October 2017 release, which cannot co-exist side by side with the June release.

Use Cases – Why Would You Use This?

This on prem server would be an attractive option for companies which:

  • Can’t utilize cloud hosted Power BI – Perhaps because of client or government related cloud restrictions in regards to handling of confidential data

How Is PBIRS Licensed?

There are two ways to acquire the licensing:

  • SQL Server Enterprise Edition with Software Assurance – If you own these licenses, you are entitled to use PBIRS
  • Power BI Premium service – If you are a customer of Power BI Premium, you can run an equivalent number of cores onsite for your PBIRS implementation. For example, as a P1 customer, you are entitled to 8 v-cores – you can then run an equivalent number of cores utilizing PBIRS on-premises.

What Are The Limitations of PBIRS?

  • Current GA release (June 2017) only supports Analysis Services as a Data Source (SQL Server support coming with next release – date TBD) The current GA release (October 2017) supports a wide variety of data sources.
  • Current GA release requires a special version of Power BI Desktop (“Optimized for Power BI Report Server”), which has the proper dialogs for opening from and saving to the PBIRS instance. This is known as “Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server”. The current version as of 10/31/2017 is : Version: 2.51.4885.1041
  • Security is enforced via Active Directory integration, or custom security form. Custom security form is NOT supported by the Power BI Desktop client, which means if you need to create your own security provider, a manual download, edit, and upload cycle will have to be used to edit dashboards hosted on PBIRS

Power BI Report Server - File Open Selection

Power BI Report Server - Save As menu

Power BI Report Server Download Links

How To Install

  • Install Power BI Report Server (PowerBIReportServer.exe)
  • Configure your report server using Report Server Configuration Manager
  • Install Power BI Desktop (PBIDesktopRS_x64.msi). Current version is Version: 2.51.4885.1041

Power BI Report Server Documentation Links

Power BI Report Server August 2017 Preview

This has been released! As of October 31, 2017 and many of these limitations are now gone – Find out more here.

The latest GA release allows the use of many data sources. It can also be integrated with Office Online Server, to allow editing of Excel sheets. However, it does have these limitations:

  • Scheduled data refresh is currently not available for reports using imported data.
  • Direct Query data connections are not currently supported.
  • Scale-out environments for Power BI Report Server are not officially supported using the preview release.
  • Reports must be smaller than 50 MB in size.
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