The future of Power BI looks bright!

In April, Microsoft announced that it had acquired the Datazen mobile BI platform and were adding it to their enterprise BI product suite.  This is exciting news that rounds out the Microsoft BI stack and, better yet, it’s free for SQL Server Enterprise customers who have Software Assurance agreements.

What is Datazen and what are its capabilities?

I have built a Datazen server with the latest version on my SQL 2014 Enterprise VM.  I found the system install wizard easy to follow and their on-line basic installation video was easy to follow.  The following components highlight Datazen deployment basic architecture:

  • Datazen Server install within an IT environment
  • Windows Server, IIS and .NET are the prerequisites
  • Datazen Server is integrated with the existing security infrastructure and connected to all relevant data sources
  • Dashboards are published using the Datazen Publisher app available from the Windows Store
  • Content is accessible via the mobile clients, IOS, Windows Phone or Android, and web browsers

Creation and publishing reports is done with the Datazen Publisher app download from the Windows Store and is available for Windows 2012 and Windows 8.  If you plan on installing Datazen Server on a stand alone VM with the Datazen Publisher app you will also need to install

Windows 8 loopback exemption manager to handle this capability.

Datazen Platform approach
Datazen Platform is more than just a place to host dashboard reports.  It allows every user to use the device of their choice to view important KPIs, Dashboards and reports within the hub they have been assigned to.  Dashboard’s can drill into the supporting detailed information and be interactive with the use of Datazen Navigator Controls.  Navigator Controls include the Time Navigator and Selection List Navigator.  Compared to Excel 2013’s Power BI capabilities these would take the place of Timeline and Slicer functionality.  In previous posts, I talked about Microsoft’s new Power BI Designer, one of the features that I think the current version of Designer lacks is the controls for Timeline and Slicer.  I hope this is a good indication of seeing these controls soon so we can add more interactivity to our Power BI dashboards and reports.
The Future of Microsoft’s BI Stack
Microsoft has taken the time to understand that an enterprise-wide data culture requires a comprehensive BI infrastructure, and it wants to be the company that provides it.  And while Power BI certainly has its bright spots, it needs more features, especially in dashboard interactivity and mobile application access.  Datazen Software fills in some missing features in Microsoft’s Power BI services, and I expect they will use them to extend Power BI and the BI stack’s capabilities.
Want to learn more from KTL Solutions’ BI Architect, Barry Crowell? Contact Barry by calling KTL at 301.360.0001 or email him at

BARRY CROWELL, MBA | BI/EDW Solution Architect

Barry uses his expertise to lead and teach a team of GP consultants to assure our solution scoping, architecting, and delivery meet and exceed the customer’s expectations. He helps clients analyze their current business processes and provides them with process improvements. He has performed implementations as the lead consultant and end-user project manager. Barry has over 20 years of experience working in accounting and the Microsoft Dynamics GP industry. He also possesses a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration from Black Hills State University and a master’s in business administration from La Salle University.

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