Adding a Power BI License to an Existing Office 365 Subscription
Power BI is the Microsoft solution that allows organizations to run Business Intelligence offerings from a Software as a Service offering.
Instead of having to stand up an entire reporting infrastructure, Power BI enables you to store, analyze and connect your data in one central location inside of Microsoft’s cloud. But, is it actually as easy to set up and use as advertised? Let’s find out.
If you’re already using Office 365 in your organization, you can add a Power BI tenant to your current subscription. (This only applies if you are at subscription level E3 or above). To do this, all you need to do is open your Office 365 Admin Page, navigate to Billing -> Subscriptions, and then click “Add add-ons.”
From there, all you need to do is specify the quantities of the Power BI licenses to purchase, and confirm your billing. Now you’re off and running!
Initial Power BI Configuration
Your new Power BI add-on will be provisioned in about a minute, and you will receive an email confirmation once it is ready to go. So the next step is to answer the question, “What will I be using Power BI to accomplish?”
For the purposes of this post, we will connect to our on-premises (on-prem) data so we can create reports and share them with our clients (seems like that might come in handy in real life!). Our first step in connecting our on-prem data to Power BI is to create a gateway in our on-prem environment. This will allow us to securely expose our data only to our Power BI tenant.
On-Prem Gateway Setup
I’ll be using an Azure Tenant with a SQL Server 2014 Virtual Machine to accomplish an On-Prem environment. The concepts will still be the same even in your physical datacenter.
Create the Gateway in the Power BI Admin Page
The first thing we will need to do is create the new gateway. To do this, all you need to do is go to the Power BI admin center from your Office 365 admin portal:
Once you are there you can either click the “Environment Setup” icon, or simply create a new one from the “gateways” link on the Quick Launch Bar. Since we want to create a new gateway now, let’s just click the “Environment Setup” icon:
This will launch the new gateway wizard automatically. Our first step in the wizard will be to provide a name and description (optional) for our new gateway. The name can be anything you would like, but must not contain spaces and must start with a character. I recommend something descriptive so any future gateways you create can be easily managed. Also, keep “Enable cloud credential store to achieve business continuity for the gateway” checked. We will discuss this further later in the post:
The next page of the wizard will allow you to specify multiple gateway instances, which can help achieve fault tolerance in case of any issue on the Power BI side. I recommend renaming the default instance to something descriptive, and, if necessary, adding another instance to the gateway. For this example, we will keep one instance, but I highly recommend creating an additional one.
Once created, we will now be able to install the data gateway on our on-premises machine. We will also need the gateway key to ensure our client is able to properly connect to Office 365.
So, download the Data Management Gateway Client to your on-Prem SQL Server, and run the installation from your server. The installation is pretty straightforward: just accept the terms and click “Next” to begin the install. Click “Finish” to complete the install. When the installation is finished you will be presented with the following screen. Copy and paste the gateway key from your Power BI tenant into the box displayed, and click “Register:”
Registering the gateway takes less than 30 seconds. When it has finished registering, a certificate will be automatically created to encrypt credentials between your server and Power BI. I STRONGLY recommend exporting and saving this certificate in a secure location. In case of recovery it will be necessary to have this certificate to restore communications.
Our next step will be to specify the EndPoint settings. By default, the gateway will open an HTTP connection on the server to Port 8051. I recommend changing this to an HTTPS connection and providing a third party SSL Certificate to ensure maximum security for this connection. Work with your network team to specify the correct settings that will be unique for your organization:
Once all of the changes have been made, the Data Management Gateway setup is complete!
In Part 2 of this series, we will cover the next step – creating a connection to the data source so we can start the reporting fun.