After an absolutely incredible July, Microsoft Power BI teams showed no signs of slowing down. The Power BI Desktop team released a key feature to import existing Excel 2013 Power BI (Power Pivot, Power Query and Power View) content within a few weeks of Power BI general availability. They also shared a list of other nice enhancements including the addition of two big data analytics connectors – HDInsight Spark and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Third-party Simba also released a new Amazon Redshift ODBC connector for Power BI Desktop and a Power BI Community member published a custom SSIS Adapter for the REST API.

In the weekly data source team releases, SQL Sentry, Mandrill, Azure Mobile Engagement and awesome Adobe Analytics connectors were unveiled along with related content packs. The mobile Power BI team released quite a few updates this month. More information is available on the official blogs, upcoming webinars and shown in the monthly update video.

Growing Power BI Buzz and Community

It is fascinating to see what happens when a giant like Microsoft delivers an impactful solution to the masses! This month we saw a notable increase in Power BI industry news coverage and analyst attention. For me, the most exciting aspect of August was watching the innovative videos, tips and tricks being shared on Twitter with hashtag #PowerBI by the rapidly growing Power BI community. From trend indicators with classic SSRS Unicode character tricks now being applied to Power BI Desktop in DAX, to creative ways to use a funnel as a slicer or a scatter chart on top of an airplane seating chart background, there were many fantastic articles coming from all corners of the world. Even Mr. Underwood wrote a rare blog from a non-technical Excel user perspective.

Successful GA Launch

With 500,000 unique users from 45,000 companies spanning 185 countries participating in the preview, the GA launch of Power BI was a success though I don’t know if the Power BI team will ever admit it. They wasted no time tweeting and blogging that they are just getting started!

What about Microsoft on-premises business intelligence? Most likely the on-premises business intelligence offerings will get more coverage in the upcoming months. If this is an area of keen interest to you, consider attending PASS Summit 2015 where product teams will be giving deep dive sessions on a plethora of SQL Server 2016 business intelligence enhancements.

Related News and Announcements

In other areas across Microsoft, the first SharePoint 2016 Preview was just released. The Excel 2016 team shared a few updates on what is new and on Excel with Power BI. The Azure Data Catalog team added Hadoop HDFS data sources. The Azure SQL Database team is previewing a compelling elastic database pool capability that is gaining market attention. More info on that is available on Scott Guthrie’s blog. This past week a few of us have been getting notified that our Azure SQL Data Warehouse accounts have finally been approved. More to come soon on that mega-cool topic!

Azure SQL DW

Microsoft launched a free Online R Course on edX. Other free R courses were already available from Revolution Analytics (the hottest Microsoft acquisition of 2014 in my opinion), Coursera, O’Reilly, and many other sources. If you don’t know R yet and you are in the analytics profession, you’d better ramp up on it soon. To motivate you, the next SQL Server 2016 CTP should include the highly anticipated R stored procedure call features that were demonstrated at IGNITE. This new feature opens up a lot of possibilities to operationalize advanced analytics.

R in SQL Server 2016

What Next?

As I wrap up this month in lovely Australia, I will have a lot of time on flights to soul search and plan for the upcoming year. I have shared a million times before in my blog that it is critical to keep skills sharp, continue learning and growing professionally. In researching what professions still look promising in an automated IoT future, it looks like ours will NOT be completely automated (see operations research analyst). DBAs and computer systems analysts will also be happy with that research. Programmers, statisticians and many other professions will be partially automated. My current experimental, overlapping role that conflicts and disrupts Microsoft machines from outside of Redmond has been interesting and immensely challenging. I do love where Microsoft business intelligence is headed with the truly brilliant James Phillips leading the way forward. Now I need to get myself back on track per se, conflict and disrupt a bit less while also enjoying life a bit more!