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Microsoft Pushes to Extend Reach of Power BI

When Microsoft launched Power BI for Office 365 two years ago, the goal was to bring business intelligence to the mainstream. Microsoft last month claimed  it has 5 million Power BI subscribers and now the company is reaching for more.

To extend its reach, Microsoft announced at last week's Build conference in San Francisco Power BI Embedded, a SDK and tool that lets developers build the Power BI service into their applications.  Power BI Embedded is intended for developers, primarily ISVs, and is delivered though the Microsoft Azure Cloud.

"You can now take the Power BI data visualization and reporting functionality and directly integrate it within your own applications," Scott Guthrie, executive VP of Microsoft's cloud and enterprise business, told developers at last Thursday's Build general session. "You can do this without requiring your users to buy or even be aware of what Power BI is. Instead you can basically take advantage of the Power BI Embedded SDK so it just feels naturally like part of your application using the same authentication, login and overall consumer experience that you're already delivering to your end users."

It's priced like any other service offered in Azure, he added. If the SDK is widely adopted by ISVs and SaaS providers, it could help make Power BI more pervasive. Microsoft disclosed a number of ISVs that plan to embed the Power BI SDK in their own offerings: SharePoint workflow vendor Nintex, location-based marketing software supplier Solomo Technology, sales enablement tools provider Highspot and Millman, which offers a financial modeling and actuarial tool popular by those who do risk analysis.

Nick Caldwell, the general manager for Microsoft's Power BI, noted in a blog post that in addition to eliminating the need for ISVs to develop and maintain their own visualization and BI controls, it will offer better compatibility.

"They are guaranteed that their visualizations will work across all devices, and that they can leverage all of the value and innovation that is constantly being added to the Power BI service," Caldwell said. "By removing the complexities of designing and developing a custom BI solution for applications, and making it available with the scale of Azure, we've removed the barriers that previously slowed the development of intelligent enterprise applications."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/08/2016 at 12:52 PM


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