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Developer conversations – Power BI Embedded for ISV applications

by Spanish Point - Jul 22, 2021
Developer conversations – Power BI Embedded for ISV applications

Svetlana Korshunova, Data Engineer and Business Intelligence Consultant at Spanish Point Technologies discusses Power BI Embedded. She shares how it provides seamless access to powerful data reporting and the various benefits for ISVs.

Svetlana Power Bi

My name is Svetlana Korshunova and I am a member of the Modern Workplace team, one of the core teams at Spanish Point. As a Data Engineer and BI (Business Intelligence) Consultant, I work closely with customers to bring innovation to their business workflows, applications and digital workspaces. My experience is extensive, having worked in this field for over 12 years. As a team, we are data analytics experts and we obtained Gold Competency in Data Analytics from Microsoft in 2020.

Why is Power BI Embedded beneficial for ISVs?

Having worked as a BI consultant for many years, I can share that Power BI Embedded is a brilliant service. I would recommend it to any organisation, especially Independent Software Vendors. What is impressive is how fast an organisation can get up and running with Power BI, accessing the analytics they want without having to invest a lot of resources to do so. Also, as it is a Microsoft technology, ISVs get access to new features each month with every new release.

As a BI consultant, one of the technologies I work with is Power BI Embedded. This is a service that organisations integrate to embed reports, dashboards and visuals into other applications. It is a powerful data tool that supports organisations to make key decisions, without leaving their environment. Power BI Embedding allows ISVs to share Power BI reports with a broad audience in their own application, without users being required to sign in to Power BI Service. Important for the modern workforce, this service is available on modern mobile applications with mobile, landscape and custom layouts supported by embedding. Aligning with modern serverless applications, report layouts can be specified during report loading to match the container application.

It is incredibly user friendly for our customers. For users, they only need Power BI Report Experience. On the maintenance side, capacity can be managed on the Azure Portal. For development, our team uses the following technologies, APIs and SDK libraries:

  • .NET Framework (MVC)
  • .NET Core (MVC)
  •  Python (Flask)
  • Java (Spring MVC)
  • Node JS (Express)

For ISV customers who fully adopt the approach of using modern DevOps with Azure Test Planner and Azure Pipelines, Power BI embedded is fully compatible. Behind embedding, there are code artefacts that can be tested, parameterised and deployed. This code became part of the application and passed cycles of constant Integration and Delivery along with the app. It is compatible with DevOps which is the environment we use ourselves in Spanish Point . It is also chosen by many of our customers. 

How does Power BI Embedded improve the experience for ISVs’ customers?

For ISVs, their own users’ experience is paramount. They need to be able to have ownership over their user control and authentication, without having to contact Microsoft. Users of applications are not identifiable by Azure AD and Power BI Service, Microsoft is not involved in user authentication.

Control over the look and feel of their application environment is also a key concern for ISVs, again this meets that requirement. Embedded Power BI can be personalised with the colours and styling of thei embedded analytics decided by the ISV using the themes API. Themes allow ISVs to define their styling and colours so they can be matched to the application or brand colour. With the themes API, ISVs can apply a custom theme during the report load or during a session. We can provide some examples of colour palettes and styles.

Power BI Embedded provides a seamless user experience. Your application users will not know about the Power BI service. It is fully embedded, so there is no need to sign in to Power BI.

Will implementing Power BI Embedded affect how ISVs understand their users’ behaviours?

Understanding user behaviour is critical, it helps ISVs gain better insight into their application. As ISVs transition to the cloud and start offering applications through a SaaS model, understanding what their customers are using is important. Power BI Embedded provides improved usage reports for Power BI reports in modern workplaces. For example, the report can track open requests (views). Regardless of the client environment – such as direct Power BI, embedded Power BI or Power BI mobile – every user opening a report triggers a ViewReport event. Power BI Activity Log API can be used to get similar information.

To use the Power BI Embedded service what Microsoft solutions or services do ISVs require?

Prior to utilizing Power BI Embedded services, ISVs must have an Azure subscription. Following this, the Power BI Embedded capacity can be created. This is done in the Azure portal.

As the users of your applications are not identifiable to Microsoft, unknown to the Azure AD and Power BI Service, the traditional process of purchasing user licences will not work. Instead, this is capacity based. The use of this service is charged through app-owns-data embedding by purchasing a license for dedicated capacity. This capacity translates into Microsoft providing the ISV with a set of resources including memory and the processing cycles to serve up your Power BI content. Dedicated Power BI workplaces are associated with this dedicated capacity. There are various options, or SKUs, for this capacity which we can advise our customers on.

Power Bi Embedded

Resources for ISVs

These Power BI Embedded capacities are particularly attractive to ISVs because they provide benefits and features not available to Power BI Premium users. These include:

  • The ability to automate the provisioning of Power BI Embedded capacities using PowerShell scripts and Azure templates.
  • Power BI Embedded capacities do not require a monthly commitment; instead, ISVs pay by the hour.
  • The ability to pause and resume a Power BI Embedded capacity at any time to manage costs
  • Scaling a Power BI Embedded capacity up or down in a matter of minutes.

In addition to these benefits, the move to Power BI Embedded can be accelerated through Power BI SDK:

  • Power BI APIs .NET SDK v3, Node JS,
  • Power BI JavaScript SDK

How does an ISV get started with Power BI Embedded?

Spanish Point Technologies is an excellent partner for ISVs interested in Power BI Embedded. Our Data Analytics team is highly experienced in Power BI and Embedding. As I shared, I am proudly part of this team which obtained Gold Competency in Data Analytics as a Microsoft partner this year. We continually develop our knowledge and are ready to work with new customers.

Microsoft provides vital support for our team through documentation, SDKs, Embedding playground, Embedding samples and instructions which cover all aspects of embedding from registering your application with Azure to release to production.

For those ISVs interested in this service, I recommend a proof of concept. This is an excellent way for ISVs to start the journey and prove the technology for their company and business. Spanish Point Technologies can help with creating the reports, maintaining it on the Power BI Service and advising on the Embedding capacity requirements. Reach out to our team to set up a discovery meeting and plan a possible proof of concept.

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