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Deployment Pipeline

Understanding & Creating Power BI Deployment Pipeline

Microsoft’s introduction of the deployment pipeline in Power BI. Developers now have the ability to manage, automate, and keep an eye on the development lifecycle of their reports and dashboards. 

The deployment pipeline provides developers with so many features like version control, which gives the ability to restore to previous versions of the report if necessary. Observe the modifications made to the report over time. Work on a project with other BI developers. 

Requirements

To follow along with this article, you should have a basic understanding of Power BI Desktop, Power BI Service, and how to create a workspace in Power BI services.

  • Power BI Premium Account: You should also have Power BI Premium License, which is required when creating your Power BI workspace.
  • Permission: Lastly, you have to be the admin of the workspace created.

What is Deployment Pipeline?

The Power BI Deployment Pipeline gives developers the ability to control the lifecycle of content development within the Power BI Organization service usually (Premium Per Capacity and Premium Per User licensing only).

This enables creators to develop and test Power BI content in the Power BI Services before taking it to the production stage for final consumption by users.

Pipeline Structure

The deployment pipeline is designed to be  effective and reusable with it being in 3 stages:

  • Development: In this stage, new content is designed, built, and uploaded, in collaboration with other designers. The development stage is the first stage for deployment before the test and production stage.
  • Test: This is the preproduction environment, at this stage you check and confirm the accuracy of the content, you want to take to the production stage.
    At the test stage, you can perform the following functions:
    • Share content with reviewers and testers.
    • Load and test large datasets.
    • Test your application to see how your users will see it.
  • Production: This is the final stage, at the production stage the content is distributed to the business users throughout the organization after the content has undergone testing.

Importance of Deployment Pipeline

There are some factors to consider before taking your content to Power BI Deployment Pipeline. 

  • Consistency: It means ensuring that reports, dashboards, and data sources are consistently deployed across various environments, including development, testing, and production.
  • Best Practice: The deployment pipeline’s main advantage is to provide creators with the ability to follow development best practices.
  • Version Control: It makes it possible to track and manage changes over time by enabling version control for Power BI assets.
  • Collaboration: It makes it easier for different teams and departments to collaborate and work together on Power BI assets.
  • Users: In pipeline permissions, you can restrict the number of users in the production workspace to a strict minimum while allowing additional users in the development and test stage.

Data Source

Power BI Deployment Pipeline supports the following data sources:

  • Azure Analysis Services
  • SSAS
  • Azure Synapse
  • Azure SQL Server
  • OData feed
  • Oracle
  • Sharepoint
  • SAP Hana (only the import mode)
  • Teradata

Create Deployment Pipeline

To create a deployment pipeline, firstly you need to create a “premium capacity workspace”.

Create a Premium Capacity Workspace

In your Power BI service follow the steps listed below:

  • Create Workspace: At the bottom left of your Power BI Service, select the “Workspace” tab and click create a workspace.
  • Workspace name & Description: You are expected to put in a unique name for your workspace. The description is optional.
  • Advanced Setting: Expand the advanced tab. In the advanced setting ensure you select “Premium Per User License” this will give you the ability to create a deployment pipeline in the Power BI service.
  • Default Storage Format: In the storage format, you are provided with two options “small data storage or large data format”. Select the format according to your organizational need.

After creating the Premium Per User workspace, you will notice a diamond-shaped icon next to the workspace name.

Create Deployment

In your Power BI Service click on “Deployment Pipelines” and a new window will appear, you are expected to provide your pipeline with a name then click on the “Create” button.

Assign a Workspace

This is where you manage, update and move your workspace content through the deployment stage. Start with the development stage, click on the dropdown, and select the workspace we just created which is a Premium per user workspace. Then select “Assign a workspace”.

You will notice at the development stage it has 0 Dataflows, 0 Datamarts, 0 reports, and 0 Datasets. We need to publish a report from the Power BI desktop to the Development workspace.

Publish Power BI Report to Development Workspace

In your Power BI Desktop on your Home page click on the Publish icon at the top right corner. You are expected to select the right workspace you want to publish your report.

Navigate back to your Power BI Services as soon as the publishing is successful and refresh the deployment pipeline tab. Now you should be seeing 1 report and 1 dataset.

Deploy to Test Stage

At the development stage, you can expand the dropdown to select the content to want to move to the test stage. If you want to move all content to the Test stage, click on deploy and follow the image below.

Color Indicators

Now that the development stage has successfully deployed to the test stage, you will notice a green color. The deployment pipeline has three different colors that represent different information.

  • Green Indicator(✔️): This indicates the content of metadata from both the development and test stage are the same. This is usually represented with a check mark.
  • Orange Indicator(X): Appears based on these conditions:
    • This indicates a change had occurred in the content in one of the stages.  If this is the case, a user only needs to click the “Compare” button to see what is unique about each workspace.
    • The difference in the number of items in each stage.
  • Red Indicator: This indicates there is no match between the two stages.

Deploy to Production

Click on the deploy icon, this moves the content to the final stage which is the production stage.

Features Available in the Power BI Deployment Pipeline

Workspace Access

Workspace access gives certain individuals or groups in an organization permission to access and utilize the resources and tools within a particular workspace.

Workspace Settings

The workspace settings allow administrators to control various aspects of the workspace

Compare and Manage Changes in Deployment Pipeline

When there is material in two successive stages, the contents are compared based on the metadata of both stages.

Now let’s see how you can compare and manage pipelines when we make changes to one of the stages. Let’s create a dashboard from the Power BI report we just created in the development stage and see what happens.

You will notice as soon as you create the dashboard in the development stage, your deployment pipeline will indicate there is some variance between the Development and Test stage. Note the Test and Production stages are still in sync.

Compare

Click on the “Compare” icon, this expands to show the comparison between the development and test stage. The plus green indicated a new content has been added to the development stage which is the dashboard we just created in the development stage.

Update Test Stage

Select the dashboard content you want to deploy to the test stage. Click on deploy and wait for a few minutes for the test environment to update with the new content.

Update Production Stage

You will notice now the development and test are now in sync but the test and production stages are not. You will have to repeat the same process we did for the development and test stage to sync them.

Publish App

Now that all stages are in sync, let’s publish our app. You can check out one of our articles on how to Create Power BI Apps.

Backward Deployment

The Power BI Deployment pipeline also provides you with the option to deploy to a previous stage. As an illustration, imagine deploying a workspace that has already been assigned to the production stage backward, first to the test stage, then to the development stage.

Note, deploying to the previous stage works best when the previous stage is empty. Also, when deploying to the previous stage, you can not select a specific item, rather all items from the stage will be moved to the empty one.

Delete Development Content

In your Development stage click on the 3 dots and delete all three contents from the development stage. 

Deploy to the Previous Stage

At the Test stage click on the 3 dots and select “Deploy to Previous Stage”. This will take all the content from the Test stage back to the development stage.

Conclusion

In this article, you have learned about Power BI Deployment Pipeline. In addition, this article covers the importance of the deployment pipeline, the dataset that is supported for deployment, and backward deployment.

To learn more about Power BI, you should sign up for our classes, keep up with the blog, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Barry Shearer

    I believe you have mentioned some very interesting details, thank you for the post.

  2. John Smith

    Hi, what about the connection strings? How will deploying from dev to test with different server names get picked up based on the workspace it is on?

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