Power BI announcements from MBAS

Microsoft Business Applications Summit (MBAS) turned out to be a veritable goldmine for Power BI. The announcements are out in force, and Marc Lelijveld (Twitter|Blog) has penned an excellent summary of the features.

I’d like to give my two cents on two of the features I personally find the most exciting: hybrid tables and streaming datasets.

Hybrid Tables

Let’s start with hybrid tables - they’re what we’ve been wishing for ever since Direct Query and Composite Models came out. This will give us the ability to combine imported data with Direct Query data in a seamless fashion. I have a use case for it right now: I have an application that logs a lot of data from an integration platform. The problem is that I’m way more interested in the latest data than the historical data. As it stands, I’m looking at 80M rows - not that much for Power BI per se, but in this specific (edge-ish) case, I’d much prefer to just import the latest, say, three months or so, and biting the bullet with a Direct Query for older data. At the demo, Christian Wade showed the other way around, but according to Kasper de Jonge, this should be doable.

update: This will technically be doable in version 1 via Tabular Editor or similar, but as the storage engine will still issue queries to both the imported and DQ datasets, that will most likely turn into a bottleneck. Opportunitities for improvement!

Streaming Dataflows

Let’s face it - streaming data in Power BI never really did work very well. There are a thousand reasons for it - chief among them the fact that you’re only streaming to a dashboard, not a report. With streaming dataflows it looks like most of the old restrictions will go away - suddenly a streaming dataset is treated as a first class citizen from a data source perspective, and this might very well open up the possibilities for “real-time” telemetry visuals in Power BI.
I have a use case for this as well: I’m working a lot with real estate companies, and each and every one of them say the same thing - we’d love to use Power BI, and we’d love to be able to visualize data as from smart buildings as it comes in. This might just be the ticket!

There were other really interesting features, but to keep what little sanity I have left, I’ve decided to sink my teeth into these two for starters. It’ll be a while before this goes generally available, but I’ll have a lot of fun playing with it until it does!