Introduction to Power BI Dataflow – Part 1


In this article, We will see what is Dataflow, when to use and the architecture.

What is dataflow?

dataflow is a collection of entities (entities are similar to tables) that are created and managed in workspaces in the Power BI service. An entity/Table is a set of fields that are used to store data, much like a table within a database. You can add and edit entities/tables in your dataflow, as well as manage data refresh schedules, directly from the workspace in which your dataflow was created.

When to use dataflows

  • Create reusable transformation logic that can be shared by many datasets and reports inside Power BI. It means using One Power query table in Multiple Power BI reports.
  • Expose the data in your own Azure Data Lake Gen 2 storage, enabling you to connect other Azure services to the raw underlying data
  • Create a single source of the truth by forcing analysts to connect to the dataflows, rather than connecting to the underlying systems, providing you with control over which data is accessed, and how data is exposed to report creators.
  • If you want to work with large data volumes and perform ETL at scale, dataflows with Power BI Premium scales more efficiently and gives you more flexibility. Dataflows supports a wide range of cloud and on-premise sources.

Where the output stored

  • Dataflows stores the data in the Azure Data lake storage.
  • Dataflow manages the Data Lake configurations internally so we need only Power BI accounts and subscriptions.

Dataflow vs Dataset

DataflowDataset
Replacement of your Power QueryReplacement of DAX Calculations and Relationships
ETL LayerModelling Layer
Feeds Data into the DatasetFeeds Data into Visualizations
Access the Data Source DirectlyAccess the Data from the Dataflow
Developer Needs Power Query SkillsDeveloper Needs DAX and Modelling Skills
Dataflow are Data ModelersDataset are Report Visualizers
Row level security – NoRow level security – Yes
Data access method – ImportData access method – Import, DirectQuery
Primary purpose – Data reusePrimary purpose – Data analysis
Development – Power query onlineDevelopment – Power query in Power BI desktop

In next article, We will see how to create and configure Dataflows.

If you like this article, feel free to share it with others who might find it helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

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