What Power BI XMLA Endpoints means for you

Are you taking advantage of Power BI’s modeling capability? This is a terrific built in capability and many users build models as they begin to design their reports.  

However, as we transition Power BI into being our enterprise visualization and reporting tool, some of the legacy applications just aren’t going to go away. Many of those applications connect to XMLA endpoints from other semantic model providers such as analysis services on your SQL on prem.

So, the Power BI team decided to give you the ability to do the same. There is a newly announced feature in public preview called XMLA Endpoints for Power BI. Beyond the ability to connect to the XMLA endpoints with other analytical dashboarding tools (like Tableau), you can also connect to it from other toolsets that support XMLA.

For example, many of the Microsoft development tools give you the ability to connect as well, things like SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), SQL Server Profiler, DAX Studio and even from Excel pivot tables. Just keep in mind it’s only currently available for read access, so some of your capabilities will be limited. Microsoft documentation on this feature states that they will be planning to offer a read/write option soon.

From a licensing perspective, access to XMLA Endpoints is available for datasets in Power BI Premium only, but any user can connect to the endpoints regardless of whether they have a Pro license. The feature itself is turned on within the settings of the Power BI Premium tenant. This is only available in preview at this time, so it’s not supported in production.

In this scenario, other tools such as SQL Server data tools or types where you can play with the model give you the ability to change your model with Visual Studio. Now you can start to see a scenario where you can start to use Git Hub repositories to manage your source control on the models among other endless uses.

I must say I’m impressed with the modular approach of the team to roll out Power BI as a 100% enterprise class tool. First, we saw the Data Flows feature which extracts the ELT/ELT into its own lane. Then things like composite models was introduced where you can have offline and online data sources. Now we’ve got XMLA Endpoints which clearly defines 3 separate layers of development within the Power BI ecosystem.

These recently added features have opened some great avenues and spread user adoption and I know there are more great things to come. The commitment of the team to evolve and improve this product has been excellent and I look forward to what they’ll roll out next.

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