I received an email couple days ago from one of the Power BI Community member, who wrote me: “Hey Marek, I found a great idea how to improve the Power BI. Paid Power BI Desktop pro! Have a look: LINK ”
The whole concept is summarized in 3 features:
Official support for analyse in Excel: only in a local Computer.
Capability to generate a password protected pbix file, any PowerBI desktop user can open the file, but they can see only the reports not the data model, only a pro user with the correct password can unlock the file, so at least we can use pbix as a way to securely share reports.
That’s all, Microsoft can make it as a subscription product, I think there is a market for that, all those “Power” Excel/Access/Proclarity/Tableau/Qlik users that want a pure and sophisticated self-service solution, and cannot use the cloud nor SSAS server
“end of Quote
First 2 points are great. I thought initially, that the idea of creating password protected pbix file is brilliant, as it makes sense to enhance the security for the report creators. However, I got a feeling, that the main purpose of those 3 features is to bypass the initial sharing and report consuming concept.
I think that the idea is strategically incorrect, leads to creating more Data Silos (which supports inappropriate approach) and you will finally end up with SSRS/Power BI Report Server or after all back in the cloud.
Imagine the situation you build a report, secure the Data Model with the password and share the .pbix file with 50 people per email. After couple days you update that report and send a new file to those 50 people again. The end-users download the new updated files over and over again. Someday they get confused which file represents the most up to date version. You, as a report creator, receive multiple messages from the end-users: “I cannot find the last email with the update; can you resend it to me?”.
You come up with an idea: “Aha! I need a central place where I upload that .pbix file, and communicate to all report-consumers how to reach that file”. You don’t like the cloud, so you decide to store the file on the Network Drive in the intern organizational network. However, the end-users must download that file to their local machines and open the report with Power BI. Guess what will happen after some time? Everyone got multiple copies on their computers again and you got a new mess: Data Silos.
You, as the report creator and the administrator, realize that you need ONE place where the end-users can only DISPLAY the report, disregarding if they have the Power BI Desktop installed or not. You still don’t want cloud, because you judge it as scary, so you choose the Power BI Embedded and embed the report to any existing internal application or you end up with SSRS/Power BI Report Server, for which by the way there is a separate, dedicated version of Power BI Desktop Report Server edition.
I think the idea of having the .pbix file with the password protected data model is not bad (I won’t complain for additional security level 😉 ) but still, in context of sharing the reports in the form of the standalone files – I think it is firstly not complaint with the Cloud-First or Mobile-First strategy and secondly, leads to generate Data Silos. There are couple ways how to fight with Data Silos, check out the blog post from Łukasz Klimczuk how you can start that fight 😉 or the video from Patrick Leblanc at Guy in a Cube YT channel.
Regarding to security: You can never eliminate all risks, but you should try to minimize them as far as possible.
What do you think about the idea? Are there any other features for Power BI Desktop for which you would be ready to pay extra?
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