Microsoft has recently released a technical preview of Power BI that can be installed on premise inside a company firewall and the Power BI reports can be securely published over the Intranet (not Internet) via SSRS. Today I am sharing my experiences setting up the technical preview for the first time. I installed the software on my PC however if you are going to use it for your company, you need to install it on a server. Time to get one of your friendly IT folk to help you when you are ready to set this up and demonstrate what can be done to your business leaders.
Guy in a Cube is Your Friend
Adam Saxton shares a truck load of information at his Guy in a Cube YouTube Channel. I watched Adam’s video on how to install this technical preview and followed his instructions. I wont repeat all the details here as he has done a great job of that already, however I wanted to share my experience and observations.
My Install Experience
For the record, I installed the 64 bit version on my local PC. I already had SQL Server 2012 installed as well as SSAS Tabular 2012.
1. I downloaded the Jan 2017 technical preview of Power BI Desktop (SSRS edition) PBIDesktopRS_x64.msi and SQL Server Reporting Services SQLServerReportingServices.exe (both available here). 1 minute to download both files.
2. I installed and ran Power BI Desktop installer for SSRS first. After installing, I ran the new software. It looks, loads and behaves just like Power BI Desktop except for the reference to SSRS. There was no conflict with my existing copy of Power BI Desktop, so now I have both versions installed side by side. I assume the special SSRS features will find their way into the main version of Power BI Desktop in time.
3. I then installed the SSRS Technical Preview software (I note it has a short life – 180 days, which is to be expected). 1 minute to install.
4. I was then prompted to configure SSRS. I already have a SQL Server instance running on my PC (2012), so I used that (I didn’t need to download a SQL Server Evaluation Edition) from the link shown above.
5. I then clicked the configuration button and gave it the name of my localhost server. I then got the following message.
6. I then had to refer back to Adam’s video as I wasn’t sure what to do next. Adam instructed to navigate to a URL in a browser (MachineName\Reports). I found the exact URL for my SSRS server in the configuration tool as shown below.
Note you don’t need the :80 port number as port 80 is the default. So for me the URL was simply
But when I went to that address in Google Chrome, it didn’t work.
On a hunch I decided to reboot my PC, then it worked just fine.
7. I noticed in the SSRS configuration manager that there is an option to register Power BI Integration. This seems to be related to users being able to pin tiles from an On Premise Power BI report onto a Cloud based Dashboard, although I am not 100% clear on this. I didn’t touch anything here and it all worked fine.
8. This preview only works with a live connection to SSAS (Tabular or Multi Dimensional). I have SSAS Tabular running on my PC but I didn’t have a Tabular Data Model I could use, so I decided to restore a Power Pivot model from Excel to my server. I launched SSMS to connect to Analysis Services Tabular (2012 in my case).
I right clicked on Databases (shown as 1 below) and then selected Restore from Power Pivot (2 below).
I followed the instructions to restore the file. At first I couldn’t restore the file due to a file access permission error. I have struggled with this forever (I am not a SQL Server Pro) but I quickly found this article that told me how to give SQL Server permission to access the folder that contained my Power Pivot workbook.
After restoring I couldn’t see the database. I had to first right click (1 below), then select refresh (2 below).
9. Using my new version of Power BI Desktop, I created a new workbook and connected it to my SSAS server using connect live.
I created a quick demo report and then saved the report. I navigated to the SSRS Reports Page in my Browser (shown below) and uploaded my new report.
Bingo – On Premise Power BI
And bingo – there it is, working through a browser like a charm.
- The first report was slow to render. The second and subsequent reports were fast. This could be related to my SSAS Server on my PC not being hot.
- Now when I double click on a PBIX file, the SSRS version of Power BI Desktop launches by default. I tried to manually change this back but couldn’t get it to change. I decided to reinstall the latest production version of Power BI Desktop (repair install) and that fixed it. The SSRS version still worked but was now not the default.
- The URL for the report page is in the format MACHINENAME/Reports/PowerBI/FileNameWithoutThePBIXextension. As you can see in the image above, my file name was “Power BI On Premise” including spaces. That meant that the URL was actually http://desktop-1sckel7/Reports/powerbi/Power%20BI%20On%20Premise I hate all those %20 that indicate a space. I renamed the file using underscore characters instead of spaces, and that gave me a much neater URL
- You should also note that this is not a fully featured on-premise copy of PowerBI.com. There is no Dashboards section and hence no quick insights, no Q&A. It most closely resembles the public sharing feature of PowerBI.com
All in all I have to say this is pretty exciting. I have lots of current and potential clients that I have spoken to that are not willing to proceed with a cloud based solution. A production ready on-premise solution seems very close now – can’t wait.