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Heads up: Shared and certified datasets are coming to Power BI

Organizations are increasingly seeking to build a data culture so they can leverage insights every day, at all levels of their organizations, across users with a variety of analytical skillsets. A key enabler for a data culture is the pervasive availability of standard, authoritative datasets that represent a single source of truth, allowing users to make decisions on trusted data, remix to create new insights, all with unified governance.

Get ready for the imminent release of Shared and Certified datasets in Power BI! In the coming days we will start rolling out the public preview of a set of capabilities across the Power BI service and Desktop to enable the full lifecycle of sharing datasets across organizations.

These capabilities deliver value to organizations in four key areas:

  • Dataset catalog. Users looking to find authoritative data in their organization can do so easily, with a new dataset catalog experience integrated in Power BI Desktop and the service. Users receive recommendations on the datasets available to them along with a search and browse capability that spans all data in Power BI. Shared datasets are also available in external tools, such as Excel and other third-party BI tools via the XMLA protocol, ensuring that your authoritative data is universally accessible.
  • Certification and promotion. To encourage the use of standardized datasets, IT administrators can mark datasets as certified when they are authoritative. Additionally, dataset owners can promote their datasets that are ready for further exploration by others, encouraging reuse.
  • Usage analytics. Power BI’s audit logs and Premium capacity metrics apps will show usage information atop shared datasets, allowing data owners to plan for growth and changes. Later this calendar year, we plan on releasing additional experiences to provide visibility into the use of shared datasets across your Power BI tenant.
  • Lineage tracking. Dataset owners in Power BI will be able to see the downstream use of their shared datasets by other users through the related content pane, allowing them to plan changes. Later this calendar year, we plan on releasing additional data lineage capabilities to make it even easier to visualize relationships between data artifacts in a workspace and across an organization.

Use Datasets across workspaces

With shared datasets in Power BI, we are allowing a single dataset to be used by multiple reports, across workspaces. We are introducing several new features that make use of this capability:

  • Build new reports based on datasets in different workspaces.
  • Copy existing reports across workspaces.
  • Make a personal copy of a report that is part of an app you have access to.

For data providers, this means that they only need to maintain a single copy of their dataset in their own separate workspace; at the same time, report authors will be able to use those datasets to build reports in their own workspaces without having to worry about maintaining the dataset. To help users discover shared datasets relevant to them, we are introducing a new dataset discovery experience in the Power BI service and Desktop that makes it easy to browse and search to find content. This new experience will be globally available in the service by the end of this week and will be part of the June release of Power BI Desktop.

Shared and Certified datasets as well as the ability to copy reports are available to anyone with a Pro license. Free users can connect to shared datasets that reside in Premium. For details, please see the documentation.

Certify datasets to establish authoritative data sources

With Certified Datasets we are providing organizations with a mechanism to distinguish their most valued and trusted datasets. Certified datasets show up prominently in the discovery experience such ensuring that users can easily find these authoritative sources for critical information. The ability to certify datasets can be tightly controlled and documented internally via a new admin control; this way, organizations can ensure that dataset certification is a selective process resulting in the establishment of truly reliable and authoritative datasets designed for use across the org.

Govern the use of shared datasets as needed for your organization

As part of this work, we are introducing new capabilities for dataset owners and tenant administrators to control the use of shared data.

For dataset owners, we are expanding the Power BI permission model to add a new “build” permission, separating out the permission to view pre-created reports on a dataset from those with “build”, which will allow the creation of new content, whether that is through the Power BI service (reports, Q&A), Desktop, Analyze in Excel, or third-party BI tools. During roll-out of shared datasets, the permission set of existing datasets will be migrated so that users currently assigned ‘Read’ will also get ‘Build’, to maintain the same level of access.

For tenant administrators, a new admin control called “Use datasets across workspaces” will allow you to restrict the group of users who can create reports atop of shared datasets and copy reports across workspaces.  This admin control will default to “Enabled for whole org” unless you had restrictions set up for the “Export data” admin control as of May 31, 2019. In this case these restrictions will be copied to the new admin control for the initial configuration.

Sharing Power BI datasets based on Analysis Services models

Sharing across workspaces works with all types of datasets, including imported, Direct Query, and live connect to Analysis Services. This means that there is now a very convenient way to make enterprise data models that are being housed in Analysis Services widely available: simply create a dataset connected to data model, upload it in the service and share it to analysts using the Build permission. This way users can find and use the data model easily and all governance and tracking is managed within Power BI.

Power BI also has a separate experience to discover and connect to Analysis Services models registered via the On-Premises Data Gateway (this feature is accessible via Get Data -> Databases in the Power BI service). Now that shared datasets is the unified dataset discovery experience in Power BI, we are deprecating and will remove the existing Analysis Services-specific experience on January 15, 2020. Data owners who rely on that experience for data discovery and data connection by their users should publish shared datasets from their Analysis Services models as described above.

Shared Datasets and the new Workspace experience

It is important to note that these new features are enabled only for the new Workspace experience, and not the classic Workspaces based on Office 365 Groups. Details about this restriction can be found in the documentation.

Learn more

● Check out the documentation which provides a lot more details about Shared and Certified Datasets, including current limitations.

● If you’re attending the Microsoft Business Application Summit next week in Atlanta, come to the “Microsoft Power BI: Enterprise reporting” to learn more about shared datasets.