Microsoft Aims Power BI 'Embedded' at ISV Developers

Microsoft recently unveiled Power BI Embedded in a bid to draw developers, primarily independent software vendors (ISVs), to its cloud-based business intelligence tool.

Microsoft launched Power BI for Office 365 two years ago with the goal of bringing BI to the mainstream. Power BI currently has a subscriber base of 5 million, Microsoft said last month. Now the company is reaching for more.

The new Power BI Embedded SDK, announced at last week's Build conference, is delivered though the Microsoft Azure cloud and lets developers build the Power BI service into their applications.

"You can now take the Power BI data visualization and reporting functionality and directly integrate it within your own applications," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft's cloud and enterprise business, during 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, log-in and overall consumer experience that you're already delivering to your end users."

Power BI Embedded is priced like any other service offered in Azure, he added.

If the SDK is widely adopted by ISVs and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers, it could help make Power BI more pervasive. Microsoft pointed to a number of ISVs that plan to embed the Power BI SDK in their own offerings, including 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 that's popular among those who do risk analysis.

Nick Caldwell, Microsoft's general manager for 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, Power BI Embedded 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."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.