What are Microsoft Power BI Connectors?


Introduction

In the fast-paced business world, all companies, be it small or big, use a variety of applications to store their data.

While storing data is essential for day-to-day business operations, companies leverage these data with Data Analytics tools to make data-driven decisions.

Microsoft Power BI is a widely used Data analytics solution that lets you visualize your data and share insights across your organization.

The process of connecting Power BI to various data sources is made easier with Power BI connectors. 

In this article, we provide you with more insight into Power BI Connectors. 

What are Microsoft Power BI Connectors?

The term ‘Connector’, from a Data Analytics standpoint, refers to a solution that enables connectivity between the Data Analytics tool to a data source. 

Power BI Data Connectors enable you to connect your data sources to the Power BI system securely without expensive re-engineering, testing, or retraining.

Subsequently, through a secure connection you can:

  • Visualize Power BI reports
  • Perform robust analytics 
  • Utilize various Power BI services

Different types of Power BI Connectors

Files Connectors 

The File category provides the following data connections:

Microsoft Power BI Connectors

Excel

Excel is a powerful, flexible tool for every analytics activity.

It is the most common way to collect and maintain data in organizations.

You can connect Excel with Power BI to get broad data analytics and visualization capabilities.

Combine the versatility of Excel with the governance and security standards of Power BI. 

Connect Power BI datasets to Excel, and interact with them using PivotTables, charts, slicers, and other Excel features.

PDF

PDF Connector in Power BI enables users to source data from PDF Files.

Using Power Query in Excel & Power BI you can extract tables or entire pages of information from PDF files for inclusion in our spreadsheets or data models.

By creating persistent connections to PDF files, you can auto-update your spreadsheets/Power BI whenever the PDF file receives new data.

XML

XML files are used to store data that is both human-readable, and structured for software to process.

The XML format is one of the widely used formats to store/process or analyze data at scale.

You can easily load data from an XML file in Power BI using the Get Data option.

Encode and visualize database records, transactions, and many other types of XML data.

JSON

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is again, one of the most widely used formats for data exchange between different platforms and applications.

With Power BI, you can export data from JSON files in form of a table to create different types of visualization.

Power Query uses automatic table detection to seamlessly flatten the JSON data into a table. You can then continue to transform & visualize the data.

Text/CSV

CSV file stores tabular data (numbers and text) in plain text.

Connecting a CSV file to Power BI is as simple as connecting an Excel workbook.

From Get Data, you can either transform the data in the Power Query Editor by selecting Transform Data or load the data by selecting Load.

Database Connectors

The Database category provides the following data connections:

Microsoft Power BI Connectors

Microsoft Stack 

1. SQL Server

Power BI Connector offers increased advantages regarding functionalities that come in handy for Data Scientists working in SQL. 

Power BI provides an optimized, live connector to SQL Server to easily create charts, reports, and dashboards by directly working with a large amount of data.

2. Azure SQL Database

Power BI Connector allows you to explore and monitor data stored in your Azure SQL database directly, without requiring a data model as an intermediate cache.

With Azure and Power BI, you can utilize multi-source data processing, huge real-time systems, Stream Analytics, etc.

You can also connect Power BI to the Azure SQL database using a single sign-on (SSO) such as Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) or OAuth2.

Amazon Redshift

Redshift is Amazon’s analytics database that is designed to process large amounts of data as a data warehouse.

You can connect Power BI to Amazon Redshift directly using the in-built connector.

The AWS Redshift to Power BI connectivity allows users to analyze the entire set of data that is stored in the S3 data lakes with Redshift.

Google BigQuery

Power BI can be connected to Google BigQuery in two ways:

  1. Using Organizational account 
  2. Using Service Account Login that requires JSON key file contents.

The Power BI connector is available in Power BI Desktop and in the Power BI service for Google BigQuery.

In the Power BI service, the connector can be accessed using the Cloud-to-Cloud connection from Power BI to Google BigQuery.

Oracle Database

Oracle users can track, aggregate, and visualize data from internal apps by connecting Power BI to Oracle Database.

You can directly load data from the Oracle database using the Power BI connector.

As a prerequisite, it requires the installation of Oracle Client beforehand.

 You can also want to use an external Connector for Oracle such as CData for ease of use.

Snowflake

Snowflake database is a favorite for many organizations. Snowflake provides the flexibility to store both structured and semistructured data.

Power BI Connector eliminates the need for on-premises Power BI Gateway implementations since the Power BI service uses an embedded Snowflake driver to connect to Snowflake.

Power BI Service users can connect to Snowflake using Identity Provider credentials and implement to access Snowflake with single sign-on (SSO).

IBM

The IBM Db2 database is used by organizations of all sizes for both transactional and analytical operations.

Power BI Connector for IBM Db2 allows Data Scientists to perform complex modeling and visualizations.

You can create a real-time link to visualize live data, and refresh data on demand or use the schedule refresh option to view the latest data in Power BI.

SaaS Connectors

The Online Services category provides the following data connections:

Microsoft Power BI Connectors

Salesforce

Salesforce is a cloud-based CRM tool that lets you manage your organization’s interactions with its customer base.

Power BI Connector gives users the ability to easily connect Salesforce accounts, to retrieve data in Power BI. 

To execute the connection:

  1. Launch Power BI on your workstation
  2. Click on the Get Data button 
  3. Select the “analytics for salesforce” option

The connector will power your visuals for analyzing your marketing/sales performances.

It provides key metrics, such as your sales pipeline, best accounts, and KPIs. 

Google Analytics

In today’s world, it’s hard to find a business without a website. The website is a business’s first impression of a customer.

Google Analytics is a widely used Website Data Analytics tool that tracks data on SEO, transactions, user behavior, Sales, Marketing, etc.

Connecting Power BI to Google Analytics simplifies your website performance analysis.

Using the Power BI Connector, you can easily establish a connection between the two & analyze your data in real-time.

Just like the Power BI desktop, the SaaS application also supports connectivity to Google Analytics with simple configuration & authentication.

Zoho Creator

Visualize Zoho CRM customers, transactions, invoices & sales data in Power BI with an in-built Connector.

The Zoho Creator connector facilitates the data from your Zoho Creator account and links it to your Power BI application.

It enables you to pull in the data stored in Zoho Creator and create reports and resourceful insights in Power BI.

Marketo

Marketo is a cloud lead management and marketing solution.

Power BI Marketo Connectors such as CData can easily connect Microsoft teams Power BI with live Marketo data for up-to-date visual analysis and reporting.

The CData Marketo Connector is based on a highly-efficient query engine that has been optimized down to the socket level with streaming and compression capabilities.

Other Analytics Tool Connectors

It’s an interesting fact that Power BI, as one of the widely used BI tools can connect to other BI tools and use them as a data source!

OBIEE & Oracle Analytics

BI Connector is the most efficient Power BI Certified connector for connecting to Oracle Business Intelligence and Analytics data sources.

It supports Power BI Connectivity for

  • Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE)
  • Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC)
  • Oracle Analytics Server (OAS)

BI Connector is easy to use, secure, and compliant with Oracle’s security model. 

It supports Import, Direct Query, and Power BI Pro/Premium versions.

With BI Connector, you can reuse your OBIEE joins even if the primary keys are not exposed to the presentation layer!

You can schedule an automatic refresh of datasets, Publish reports to Power BI Cloud Service & Reuse OBIEE subject area joins.

OAC users can visualize OAC Subject Areas and Reports with Power BI with real-time data access for FREE!

Microstrategy

MicroStrategy is an enterprise business intelligence (BI) application.

Power BI-MicroStrategy Custom Connector allows Power BI users to seamlessly connect with MicroStrategy reports from the Get Data window.

The MicroStrategy Connector for Power BI allows Power BI users to fetch datasets from cubes or reports in their MicroStrategy projects.

You can import datasets with up to four million rows and 30+ columns.

Other Connectors

The Other category provides the following data connections:

Microsoft Power BI Connectors

ODBC

The ODBC connector in Power BI lets you import data from any third-party ODBC driver simply by specifying a Data Source Name (DSN) or a connection string. 

You can also specify a SQL statement to execute against the ODBC driver.

Additionally, you can enable DirectQuery mode, allowing Power BI to dynamically generate queries at runtime without pre-caching the user’s data model. 

OData Feed

OData is an open protocol that allows the creation and consumption of queryable and interoperable REST APIs in a simple and standard way.

Using Power BI Connector you can connect to an OData feed and use the underlying data just like any other data source.

Identify data fields such as text, numerical, location, date/time data, and more, to generate meaningful charts and reports.

Power BI Connectors: Desktop & Server Edition

Power BI Connector: Desktop Edition

Power BI Desktop is a free application that can be downloaded and installed on your local computer.

It is a comprehensive data analysis and reports creation tool for connecting to, transforming, visualizing, and analyzing your data. 

Power BI Desktop Connectors are mainly for data analysts, developers, and super users.

Power BI Connector: Server Edition

The Power BI Service is a Cloud-based or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering of Power BI. 

It allows teams and organizations to edit reports and collaborate on them.

Power BI Server Connectors are mainly for sharing datasets and reports across teams and groups.

It includes support for scheduling automatic refresh of datasets to Power BI Cloud Service using Power BI On-Premise Gateway.

Not all Power BI connectors support connectivity to Power BI service/cloud (or Report Server) edition from the gateway. 

Only a few connectors provide gateway connectivity to the Power BI Service. 

Summary

Microsoft Power BI Connectors provide smart connectivity options and settings for various data sources and BI tools.

Although most Power BI Connectors are in-built, the right connector and process depend on the Data Source you would like to connect.

In terms of Oracle BI & Analytics, you can choose BI Connector to connect to Power BI.

BI Connector is secure, easy, and has every feature you require in a Power BI connector. 

Book your FREE DEMO to watch BI Connector in action!

Oracle users must check the most popular Power BI connectors for Oracle tools.