Enterprise Data Management Gateway Coming to Power BI

One of the weak links in the hybrid Power BI solution is the Power BI Personal Gateway.  While it works as a bridge to provide data transfer from your on premise data sources to Power BI, this piece of software is a client software solution that installs on a workstation. 

For most enterprises, this is not an appropriate model – you don’t want your enterprise BI solution failing refreshes because Bob the data analyst installed the gateway on his laptop and then went on vacation.

Read the official gateway installation page and you’ll see what a weak link this arrangement is for enterprise level data refreshes:

On a laptop computer – In order for a scheduled refresh to occur, the Gateway needs to be up and running. Laptop computers are usually shut down or asleep more than they’re running. If you install your Gateway on a laptop, be sure to set your scheduled refresh times for when the laptop will be running. If it isn’t, the refresh will not be attempted again until the next scheduled refresh time.

On a desktop computer – Not many issues here. Just make sure the computer and the Gateway is running at your scheduled refresh times. Many desktop computers go to sleep, scheduled refresh cannot occur if it’s asleep.

The gateway is not highly available – it runs on a single client workstation with no ability to failover if that machine crashes.  In addition, if you change your password, it will also cause the refresh to fail until to update the password on your gateway.

Microsoft thankfully has just announced in an upcoming release an “Enterprise Gateway” that will hopefully run on a server using a proper service account.  Not many details have been released yet but this will hopefully provide some confidence that Microsoft’s support for hybrid BI scenarios is moving in the right direction.