It is that time of the year when there are 2 massive Microsoft conferences happening at the same time.

As I have done previously, please find below all the Power Platform announcements with some of my initial thoughts.

I do get FOMO at not being at either of them, but thanks to Twitter and other good people there is no shortage of news with regards to new announcements.

This is what it now looks like!

Here is another picture which shows how the Power Platform integrates with Microsoft Azure, and no matter where you sit there is an option and opportunity for everyone!

It is amazing to see how large the Power Platform and Power BI community is with the picture below along with Arun.

Power BI Announcements

Below are all the Power BI announcements

Yet again amazing growth still on Power BI

Data Projection

The ability to project your data both in Power BI and data exports has been a feature that a lot of enterprises have been waiting for. And finally, it is here.

Not only that but the integration with Microsoft Cloud App Security and Microsoft Information Projection means that your data can always be secured, even if a file gets emailed externally (as my understanding goes)

In order to enable this, you first must have created Sensitivity Labels in the Office 365 and you will also need to have the following licensing enabled

Here is the official blog details: Announcing new data protection capabilities in Power BI

NOTE: The image above is clickable to take you to the associated page.

There will be a lot more in this space and you can read about it here: Announcing Enterprise Information Management Capabilities in Power BI

This is another link with another overview here: Microsoft Ignite 2019: Power BI gets new data protection features

Deployment Pipelines

Deployment pipelines allow you to leverage ALM to support Dev, Test and Prod, it is planned for March 2010, we will be able to have a deployment pipeline for Power BI reports.

What this means is that you will be able to go from Dev, to Test to Production via a pipeline. This will ensure that there can be a DevOps and release cycle for updates to Power BI datasets and reports.

If you look carefully at the image below you can also include a parameter to limit your datasets, this is especially useful when you are developing datasets and do not want to wait a long time for data to be processed.

It is awesome to see how far along the process they are, hopefully it will come out sooner than the public preview date.

More details can be found here: Deployment pipeline – develop, test, and deploy workspace content

Large models in Power BI

I know a lot of customers have had datasets that have been larger than 10GB, with the new announcement there is parity between what Azure Analysis Services (AAS) and what Power BI Premium offers in terms of sizing.

One thing to call out is that there is way more features associated with Power BI Premium when compared to just AAS.

The link in the blog post below also goes into more details on all the available features.

More details can be found here: Large models in Power BI Premium public preview

Potential new look and feel for App Workspaces

Whilst I was clicking through and reading all the links for the Power BI announcements, I did notice that there appeared to be a new look to the Power BI App Workspaces as shown below, which was in the Security & Data Protection Overview documentation

As shown above it appears to look like SharePoint Document Libraries.

Decomposition Tree

This is something people have been asking for a long time and it is awesome to see that it is almost here. From what I have read this should be available in the next release of Power BI Desktop. I cannot wait to not only get this working but to use it with customers data and let them see insights they previously did not think was possible.

Cognitive Services in PBI Desktop

Coming soon to Power BI Desktop is the ability to use the Cognitive Services directly in Power Query.

The cognitive services that will be available will be:

  • Detecting language
  • Scoring sentiment,
  • Extracting key phrases
  • Identifying objects in images

I personally think that this will be a great feature that will be used by a lot of organizations. A lot of the time all that people want to know is the results of the Cognitive Services and how this affects their data.

You can find more details on the preview features here: Support for new AI Insights including Cognitive Services and custom Azure Machine Learning models

Deeper Teams integrations

There is also going to be more integration of Power BI within Microsoft Teams.

This will allow for members in a team the following capabilities

  • When using the new App Workspace experience, they can see the workspace experience directly within Microsoft Teams
  • In 2020, there will be rich previews of Power BI reports within chats and Teams channels, which allows for easier understand and collaboration.

The overall details and additional links can be found here: Weaving Business Intelligence into the fabric of the organization with Microsoft Power BI

XMLA Read/Write Access to datasets in Power BI

Finally, there will be full read/write access to datasets in Power BI. This is awesome because it will allow you to do this previously that were not possible such as version control or your own partition schemes.

Not only that but 3rd party tools will be able to connect, which means full open connectivity to your data assets

More details can be found here: XMLA read/write

Common Data Service

From the image above it appears that DirectQuery will be coming to the Common Data Service (CDS)

Azure Maps in Power BI

It appears that soon, there will be the capability to be able to use Azure Maps within Power BI with the rich geospatial data on the Azure platform.

Dataflows gets 50+ Updates

Here is an overview of all the new features shipped for dataflows

Not only has there been new connectors added to dataflows, there has also been 40+ new transformations within dataflows. As well as data profiling, query UX parameters, function authoring UX, M Intellisense in the advanced editor and some other great new features.

To me this appears to me that it is getting a lot closer to what we have in Power Query within Power BI Desktop.

This also bodes well for the other products within the Power Platform that use the Power Query cloud engine.

More details can be found here: 50+ New Features in Dataflows this month!

Embedding of Paginated Reports in your own applications

There now is the capability to embed your paginated reports into your own application. This further enhances the capabilities of Power BI where you now can embed paginated reports. This is often a requirement where you want to get those pixel perfectly formatted reports. As well as all the other advantages that can be leveraged with paginated reports such as subscriptions.

Additional details on paginated reports can be found here: Embed paginated reports in your own application for your customers (Preview)

Sneak peek at upcoming Admin Usage Metrics

This was a photo taken showing the upcoming admin usage metrics for Power BI. It looks great in that it gives you a lot more details on your data assets, information projection and what data has the potential to be exported.

There appears to be also reports for user activity and licensing which is key to understanding which reports are being used. As well as how many licenses are being utilized.

Here is a picture from the official release

More details can be found here: Admin usage metrics

Azure Synapse Analytics

This has been a massive announcement and I did watch the keynote at the specific point where they showcase what Azure Synapse Analytics is capable of.

It is truly ground-breaking in terms of what it does and how quickly it can return the data, as well as how easy it appears to be able to stitch the data together and be able to report on the data.

Not only that, but it uses Power BI as the reporting platform. This ties in perfectly with all the advancements in Power BI, which now can be leveraged using Azure Synapse Analytics.

As shown below, it is not only faster but also cheaper which is great for customers.

Again, as you can see below all the components that can be utilized within the Azure Synapse Analytics platform. I truly think that this is yet another game changer from the wonderful people at Microsoft.

And in my opinion, I do believe that it builds on the existing skillsets that a lot of data people have already gained over the years in the Microsoft data platform

Below are more details in terms of how it all pieces together, it is great to see Power BI at the top, where you can leverage aggregations then followed by the underlying architecture for still blindingly fast performance

Finally, to me, even though this was part of the keynote I know the people well enough at Microsoft to know that they did their research and testing to showcase how much faster and performant Azure Synapse Analytics is when compared directly against Amazon Redshift and Google Big Query

It was impressive to see how it just kept on working. No doubt there is an associated cost to this, but with the advantages in the cloud, this can be dynamically scaled up and down as required.

Here is the associated news article: How Microsoft re-envisioned the data warehouse with Azure Synapse Analytics

This is the link to the official page: Azure Synapse Analytics

Power Automate (Formerly Microsoft Flow)

UI Flows

One of the new incredible features in Power Automate is the UI Flow, which allows Power Automate to use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to take manual human driven tasks into a recording that can be played back and re-used without a human having to redo the work. I really must give this a go.

More information can be found here: Power Automate – UI Flows

And here is the official blog post: Robotic process automation now in preview in Microsoft Power Automate

Power Virtual Agents

This is interesting, and I think that having a Virtual Agent can really help people within an organization to find data and related questions quickly and easily. I have found that over time there is a LOT of repetitive questions and if this can be done in a way where it can be automated and used via a bot means that everyone wins.

The related documentation can be found here: Documentation for Power Virtual Agents

Here are details on getting started: Getting Started

And if you have some idea’s you can add them to the idea page here: Power Virtual Agent Ideas

All the details can be found here as well as how to sign up: Microsoft Power Virtual Agents Preview