What are Power BI Deployment Pipelines?

In today’s environment, the need for developers to control, automate, and monitor the lifecycle of their data analytics products is crucial to the success and health of any business. 

Power BI deployment pipelines give developers the ability to do all three with a single and intuitive user interface. In this blog, we’ll describe what the deployment pipelines feature does, why it’s useful, and give a couple of recommendations on how to get the most out of it. 

What are Deployment Pipelines in Power BI?

The Deployment Pipelines tool is a feature within Power BI Service (Premium Per Capacity and Premium Per User licenses only) that enables developers to manage content’s development lifecycle within their organization’s tenant. The tool is designed to be an efficient and reusable pipeline that automates the movement of content through three stages:

  • Development – design, review, and revise content in a development workspace. When it’s ready to be tested and reviewed, deploy the content to the test stage.
  • Test – test and verify that the content is accurate in this preproduction workspace. When it’s ready to be distributed to your users, deploy the content to the production stage.
  • Production – the workspace content has been tested and is ready to be consumed by your users either in an app or by access to the production workspace.

Content here refers to reports, paginated reports, dashboards, datasets, and dataflows.

Note that the different stages of a pipeline each have their own associated workspace and that it is not possible to assign multiple workspaces to one stage of the pipeline. The benefit of this is so that workspace admins can provision the proper access accordingly for each stage of the development lifecycle – for example, you may not necessarily want someone who is assigned as a “Viewer” to have access to the development or test workspaces.

The video below shows how content is promoted through the three workspaces/development stages. Two reports and their associated datasets begin in the development workspace. The reports will be deployed to test and then to production – you can also see that users can update the workspace app from this view. 

Clearly, the automation of these tasks is easy with a deployment pipeline. Other benefits include the ability to monitor content across workspaces. In the video above, you can see that in the gap between each workspace is either a green checkmark or an orange “X.” These two symbols are meant to denote that the content between each workspace matches or if there is something asynchronous within them. 

  • The green checkmark represents that all of the content in the two workspaces are a one-for-one match. Everything from the preceding workspace is  promoted to the next stage. 
  • The orange “X” denotes that a change had  occurredand that the content needs to be promoted to the following workspace to reflect the latest version. If this is the case, a user can simply click on the “Compare” button to view what is different from one workspace to another.

Another useful function that a deployment pipeline offers is the ability to automate the task of replacing a dataset’s data source. Teams will often use development or test data in the development lifecycle (a recommended best practice) to not use limited resources in their production environment. The video below shows where to configure this type of rule in your pipeline.

*Note that you will need the connection string to the environments you will be using.

Why are Deployment Pipelines Important?

The major benefit of a deployment pipeline is the assistance that it gives creators the ability to adhere to development best practices. Best practices, in this case, are using the correct data sources at the correct stages of development as well as proper data governance and access administration. The deployment pipeline feature within Power BI Service streamlines and automates these practices in a single UI.

Tips and Reminders for Power BI Deployment Pipelines

  • Whenever possible, use nonproduction data in preproduction workspaces and configure deployment pipeline rules to automate the transition of data sources between workspaces.
  • Provision workspace access to the different development lifecycle stages, as well as the deployment pipeline itself, accordingly. 

Closing

Power BI has tons of features beyond data visualization. It’s a suite of tools that can fully serve an organization’s data and analytics practice when leveraged properly. The ability to effectively monitor and control data products throughout their lifecycle is necessary and made extremely easy with Power BI deployment pipelines.

Have more Power BI questions? Our team of Power BI experts are here to help!

FAQs

A Premium Capacity license is the only license that comes with Power BI Deployment Pipelines.

Yes, access can be provisioned independently of the pipeline’s workspaces, and access to the pipeline does not provide access to its associated workspaces.

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