What, How, When and Why on Power BI Deployment Pipelines [Hill Sprint]

The What, How, When and Why on Power BI Deployment Pipelines!

  1. What are Power BI Deployment Pipelines?
  2. How can you set up Power BI Deployment Pipelines?
  3. When should you use Power BI Deployment Pipelines?
  4. Why should you use Power BI Deployment Pipelines?

What are Power BI Deployment Pipelines?

Power BI Deployment pipelines makes it possible for creators to develop and test Power BI content in the Power BI service, before the content is consumed by users. It provides a lifecycle management solution for your Power BI content!

Deployment Pipelines creates a development, test and production workspace for you where you can view the differences between the environments. You can also set up deployment rules that change your data source when deploying from one environment to the next. Like changing from test data in the test workspace to production data in the production workspace.

You can also review your deployment history to monitor the health of your pipeline and troubleshoot problems.

Hence, Deployment Pipelines can help you collaborate with other developers, manage access to testers and automate data source connections.

If you want to learn more on Power BI Deployment Pipelines, you can read the documentation from Microsoft here.

What Deployment Pipelines do NOT help you with is version control. This brings us on to another existing topic that I have not yet created a blog post on – Azure DevOps and Power BI. However, my friend Marc has. You can read his post on how you can utilize Azure DevOps to manage version control on your Power BI Reports here.

How can you set up Power BI Deployment Pipelines?

You set up a Power BI Deployment Pipelines in Power BI Service. This is done through the menu on your left side when login into Power BI Service OR directly in the workspace you want to assign to a Deployment Pipeline.

You then follow these steps:

  1. Click “Create a pipeline”

2. Fill in the name of the pipeline. This needs to be unique for your organization. Make sure the name makes sense for other developers and fill in a description as well.

3. Assign a workspace (if you did not create the pipeline directly from the workspace)
If you created the deployment pipeline directly from the workspace you need to decide if you want to assign the existing workspace to Development, Test or Production. Essentially you are deciding if the existing workspace already is a production environment or a development environment (it could also be a test environment, but dev and prod would probably make the most sense for most).

In the following example, the Development environment was chosen as the starting point/the workspace was assigned to Development.

4. Choosing “Deploy to test” will automatically generate a test workspace for you. Inside this workspace, you can then decide to create an app that can be used to view the content for business testers if you don’t want to give access to the workspace.

5. Choosing “Deploy to production” will automatically generate a production workspace for you. This will be where you provide access to the reports and datasets, datamarts and dataflow to your business analysts that want to take advantage of these assets, and where you create your app to provide access for report consumers.

6. You can change the name of the workspaces by clicking on the ellipse and choosing “Workspace settings”

7. By selecting the lightning bolt above the Test or Production environment you open up “Deployment Settings”.

Depending on the data source you can define deployment rules for your data source. For instance, you can change the file path, database or parameter when deploying from test to production changing the data from test data to production data. Nice!

8. Create apps on top of the development, test and production workspace as needed and assign access to relevant users.

You need premium capacity to get access to Power BI Deployment pipelines.

When should you use Power BI Deployment Pipelines?

When there is a need to provide business users with a test environment to test reports, test the layout of the app or new functionality without mixing with reports that already are in production. Additionally, when there is a need to provide more technical testers with access to a workspace with only content that is ready for testing.

When there are multiple report developers and business domains and there is a need for collaboration and exploration. The development workspace provides an area where multiple Power BI developers can make changes and adjustments to the same files (as long as these changes are made in Power BI Service).

When there is a need to separate test data from production data, where reports should not connect to production data unless the report itself is ready for production.

Why should you use Power BI Deployment Pipelines?

Power BI Deployment Pipelines help us with the lifecycle management of Power BI content

  • Provides a tool to improve and automate the management of the lifecycle of Power BI content
  • Provide a visual overview of developer content and the gap between development, testing and production.
  • Improved access control as you can provide data analysts with access to test apps, and super users to test workspaces instead of being forced to send the reports to your production workspace/app. You also ensure that production data is not made available unless the content is ready for production.
  • Provides collaboration environment for developers
  • Automates source connections when deploying

Useful links:

What are Hill Sprints?

I am having a series called hill sprints (since we are climbing mountains – hehe) that will provide a to the point introduction on a topic covering the What, How, When and Why.

Why hill sprints?

Hill sprints are essentially a form of interval training – probably one of the more intense (but engaging) options. They are quick, brutal and to the point. Let me know if you have another fun analogy towards climbing mountains that would make sense for a series name! (Having way to much fun with this)

First Hill Sprint Series will be on Power BI Service. In this series we will go through some of the main components in Power BI Service, explaining what is it, how can you set it up, when should you use it, and why should you use it.

Hopefully, this can provide some quick insights and knowledge on the components and help decide if this is the tool for you with your current setup or challenge.

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