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Does Azure ExpressRoute support Power BI?


Power BI is a key Data Analytics solution offered via Microsoft Office365. As Microsoft states, “Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools to analyze data and share insights.” With in-built connector with 59 different systems, Power BI provides an elegant and effective tool to business for data analysis. The Power BI service is built on Azure, which is Microsoft’s cloud computing infrastructure and platform. So connectivity with Azure Data-centre is critical for performance and security.

Microsoft announced Azure ExpressRoute to create private connections between Azure datacenters and on-premises infrastructure or in a colocation environment. ExpressRoute connections don’t go over the public Internet. They offer more reliability, faster speeds, lower latencies, and higher security than typical Internet connections. In Sep 2015, Microsoft announced general availability of ExpressRoute for Office365 from these network operators:

  • British Telecom
  • Equinix
  • Tata Communications
  • TeleCity Group
  • Verizon

 

However, Power BI wasn’t supported over ExpressRoute then. Microsoft has added ExpressRoute support for PowerBI on April 14, 2016. Now with Power BI and ExpressRoute, Enperprises can create a private network connection from their organization to Power BI (or using an ISP’s colocation facility), bypassing the Internet to better secure your sensitive data and connections.

While it is an exciting news that ExpressRoute supports Power BI but the reality is it’s a partial support only. There are few exception scenarios when Power BI will transmit over the Public Internet even if ExpressRoute has been established.

Power BI ExpressRoute Exceptions

There are some broad exceptions which apply to all of Power BI, and there are some service- or feature-specific exceptions.

Overall Exceptions to Power BI and ExpressRoute

There are two overall exceptions to Power BI and Azure ExpressRoute, which means data will transmitted to and from Power BI over public Internet.

  1. Static files which will be downloaded from Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  2. Telemetry data

Power BI uses multiple Azure CDNs to efficiently distribute necessary static contents to users based on geographical locale through public internet. Power BI send the following stuff over public Internet through Content Delivery Network:

  • Power BI Desktop application
  • Enterprise Gateway
  • Power BI Content Packs
  • Browser Configuration files which are used to initiate and establish any subsequent connections with Power BI
  • The initial secure Power BI login page (with an exception as actual user credentials are sent via ExpressRoute)

Feature-specific Exceptions to Power BI and ExpressRoute

When a user initiates the Power BI connection and login is established, subsequent all data interactions occur over ExpressRoute with the exception of the following features:

  1. Map Visuals which connects to Bing Virtual Earth service or the Bing geocoding service
  2. Power BI integration with Cortana requires access to public Internet
  3. Custom Links added by user (e.g. video or image widget) may not use ExpressRoute depending on the link provided by the user
  4. User feedback to Power BI by text or images over the User Voice feedback mechanism
  5. The Bing News content provider downloads content from Bing using the public Internet.
  6. When connecting to apps (for example, content packs), users are often required to enter credentials and settings using pages provided by the SaaS provider. Such pages may or may not use ExpressRoute.

Power BI Desktop and ExpressRoute Exceptions

Power BI Desktop is generally ExpressRoute aware with the following exceptions:

  1. Update notifications to detect whether users have the most recent version of Power BI Desktop
  2. Certain telemetry data
  3. Map Visuals which connects to Bing Virtual Earth service or the Bing geocoding service
  4. Get Data from several data sources such as Web or third party SaaS providers
About Dipankar Bhattacharya (59 Articles)
A multi-skilled Dynamics 365 Professional with strong experience in delivering IT projects especially across multiple industries. A Microsoft technology evangelist, a regular speaker at tech events, blogger and avid reader. Certified IT Architect and well versed in Solution Architecture of Business Applications using Microsoft platforms like Dynamics 365, Azure and Office 365.

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