Microsoft BI Review

A simple, flexible, low-code, and scalable solution for data integration and modeling

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for reporting, analytics, and data science. We have its latest version.

How has it helped my organization?

Microsoft's CRM platform has very limited reporting capabilities. Power BI was able to meet the business requirements for reporting and more in-depth analytics. It is a part of the Microsoft Ecosystem, and there is a straightforward connection from Power BI to CRM. 

What is most valuable?

It is a pretty straightforward and flexible solution for data integration and modeling. It is a low-code solution. When you are doing data integration, you can use the GUI, which is very simple and straightforward. You can also do very intricate custom queries and model it at different levels. It is very easy to use and scalable. 

What needs improvement?

It is kept very current, and there is an update literally every month. However, the interface changes quite randomly with no documentation, which is difficult at the domain and architectural level where you're planning things and engaging the business. Things change frequently, and you wonder where has the button for the new report gone. They should provide better documentation on interface changes.

It should be better optimized. It is supposed to be a data integration tool, but it is doing relatively simple queries. It has its limitations. For example, you can only pull a number of columns. So, there is room for optimization on its ability to integrate multiple data sources. 

The desktop tool is very memory-intensive, and again, this is not documented clearly. It requires a heavy CPU and memory use, and it causes your operating systems to become unstable.

I would like to see the ability to create datasets within Power BI. Microsoft is promoting Azure as a cloud solution, but it is dependent upon a desktop component, which seems a little bit deceptive. Data set is the basic element that you report from, but it has to be created on the desktop and then published to the cloud. So, you're in the cloud, and you create a data structure or the data flow, but you can't report from that. You have to leave the cloud, go to your desktop, create the data set on your desktop, and publish it to the cloud. You go back to the cloud and create your report by using that published data set, which is very non-intuitive. If you go to the Microsoft Power BI community, this is a common complaint across the entire community.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for about 18 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is pretty stable. I haven't determined any major issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. It fits perfectly with the larger Azure Data Lake reference architecture. Power BI platform is a fundamental piece, and it becomes scalable to use with other components within that reference architecture.

We're in the process of laying out a three-phase approach. Over the next year, its usage will increase from 50% to 75%. In terms of the number of users, we have around 150 users who are data scientists and data analysts. We have around 5,500 desktop users, and it is a part of 365, which is on every desktop. 

How are customer service and technical support?

There is a lot of online support. We also have Microsoft consultants on contract, and the support comes through them. Their support is very good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also have IBM Cognos. We haven't switched. They're being used in tandem. There are different sets of requirements for two different solutions. 

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't part of the deployment, but my understanding is that it was pretty straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We used a Microsoft consultant for implementation. Our experience was good. We don't have any maintenance crew.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate Microsoft BI a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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