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Spreading your Power BI wings with Microsoft Fabric

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In this post I want to cover spreading your Power BI wings with Microsoft Fabric. Since I covered Microsoft Fabric from a SQL Server perspective in my last post.

Which is part of a series of posts about spreading your SQL Server wings with the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform. You can find out more about that series of posts in an introductory post I published.

Anyway, I thought it was only fair I did a post from a Power BI perspective. Since Microsoft Fabric is based on the Power BI infrastructure.

You can see this for yourself once you have enabled Microsoft Fabric for your organization and activated your Fabric trial. Because once this is done you can access your Microsoft Fabric resources through either the Power BI website or the Microsoft Fabric website.

By the end of this post, you will have a good overview of Microsoft Fabric. In addition, where your Power BI background can prove to be useful.

Plus, I share plenty of links in this post. Including a way to create your personal Microsoft Fabric trial in a separate environment.

It is worth noting that I published another post about how you can create your own Microsoft Fabric environment. Which goes deeper into how you can work with other services like Azure DevOps and the Microsoft Purview compliance portal within that environment.

Another key point to note is that Microsoft Fabric is now generally available. You can read more about this in detail in the official post by Ryan Majidimehr.

About Microsoft Fabric

Microsoft Fabric was publicly launched during Microsoft Build 2023. However, like others I was lucky enough to get experience with it beforehand.

Microsoft Fabric logo to go along with the spreading your Power BI wings with Microsoft Fabric post
Microsoft Fabric logo

It unifies the functionality you can find in various applications together within one Software as a Service solution to deliver a unified analytics platform.

To help with some jargon here, you can find out more about what I mean when I refer to Software as a Service (SaaS) in an old blog post called ‘SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.. Oh my!’.

So, all you have to do is go to one website and all the functionality that you see below will be at your fingertips. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, you currently have two websites to choose from.

Spreading your Power BI wings with Microsoft Fabric
Microsoft Fabric workloads

Including Data Activator, which is now generally available.

In addition to all the above, Microsoft Fabric will have AI deeply integrated at various levels. As you can see below example.

AI-powered capabilities in Power BI when spreading your Power BI wings with Microsoft Fabric
AI-powered capabilities in Power BI

At this moment in time, the Copilot experience for Microsoft Fabric is in private preview. However, you can see it in action in the digital launch videos, which I share the links for later in this post.

When you start working with Microsoft Fabric you will realize just how deeply integrated AI is within it.

On top of all of this, there is also a level of Git integration with Azure DevOps. Which currently allows you to do version control for your Power BI reports, datasets and paginated reports.


All the icons at the top of the above diagram represent the different experiences that are available within Microsoft Fabric. OneLake is shown underneath all the experiences. Which is the unified storage foundation for Microsoft Fabric.

When I say unified, I mean that all of the experiences in the top layer of the above diagram store data in OneLake as optimized delta parquet files. Allowing them to query and share the same data.

In reality, there has been a lot of excitement about the performance of the optimization performed for these files. You can read more about this in detail within the Microsoft documentation about Delta Lake table optimization and V-Order.

OneLake also raises the game further by providing the option to create shortcuts. Which are basically links to data stored elsewhere.

Microsoft Fabric experiences

To give you an idea of what you can do within Microsoft Fabric, listed below are the capabilities of the experiences shown in the above diagram.

Data Factory to ingest data using either Data Pipelines which are based on Azure Synapse Analytics Pipelines or Dataflows which are based on Power Query.
Data Engineering for those who want to work with Lakehouses at scale. Using similar experiences that you may have used with other services.
Data Warehousing which allows you to work with a powerful compute engine based on a serverless SQL relational engine. 
Real-Time Analytics, which provides a complete streaming solution inside Microsoft Fabric based on Kusto. Including a KQL Database engine and a capability called eventstream. Which can be used to ingest streaming data.
Data Science capabilities. Including the ability to work with spark clusters and machine learning models.
Power BI to deliver Business Intelligence.

One key point I want to highlight to Power BI users here is that Microsoft Fabric introduces a new Power BI mode called “Direct Lake” mode. Which allows Power BI to use the data that is stored locally in OneLake.
Data Activator was made available during the public preview. It allows you to act when certain events happen within your data. You can even get data for Data Activator from Power BI.

I like to think of it as being data driven++.

Personally, I think that the ability to work with all of the above in a fully integrated way within one environment is simply mind-blowing. Due to the fact that it changes the landscape of how we work with data completely.

Plus, I think a lot of Power BI users are going to be amazed that they can do all this within a familiar environment.


In my opinion, I think that this is going to remove a lot of friction. Because it gives you the opportunity to do complex scenarios within one service. Therefore, removing the hassle of having to integrate multiple disparate services.

For example, in the past you had to integrate various services together. Including handling all the networking and security requirements to connect everything together. Like in the below diagram.

Example of multiple services that require integration as example as to why spreading your Power BI wings with Microsoft Fabric can help
Example of multiple services that require integration

Now you can do all of this under one roof within Microsoft Fabric. Which also introduces the option to mount data that is stored elsewhere, as you can see below.

Data Warehouse example when looking to spread your Power BI wings with Microsoft Fabric
Data Warehouse example

Utilizing Power BI background in Microsoft Fabric

In reality, you can utilize your Power BI background in many different ways within Microsoft Fabric.

For instance, it will help you work with the new options within the website easier. Plus, just like with Power BI there is an admin portal.

Below are just some examples to show where your Power BI background can come in handy. Based on OneLake and the experiences that I covered earlier.

You can use your background with working with data sources to work with the contents within OneLake. In reality, the more experience you have working with cloud storage the better.
You can use your Dataflows background to adapt to working with Pipeline and Dataflow functionality in Data Factory. Bear in mind that Microsoft Fabric uses what is considered to be Gen2 of Dataflows.
Within the Data Engineering experience, you can work with various languages within notebooks. So, if you have ever coded for Power BI data sources you can utilize your background here.

Plus, your knowledge can come in handy if working with visualizations within notebooks.
In the Data Warehousing experience, you can work with a T-SQL query editor. In addition, you can open the visual query editor to utilize Power Query. 
You can query within Real-Time Analytics using the Kusto Query Language (KQL). So, those of you with a coding background you can look to transfer your skills over to work with KQL as well.
If you have worked with Data Science within Power BI, you can apply your knowledge here. For example, if you have ever worked with AI Insights in Power BI Desktop.
I think it goes without saying that the more experience you have with Power BI the better for this experience.

Bear in mind that Microsoft Fabric introduces various ways to improve your Power BI experience.

How to join the Microsoft Fabric trial

In reality, there are a few different ways to join the Microsoft Fabric (Preview) trial.

However, for those of you who want your own personal trial in a separate environment I recommend reading the step-by-step guide to enable Microsoft Fabric for Microsoft 365 Developer Account.

If you do register for a Microsoft 365 Developer Account I highly recommend that you sort out the security settings for it straight away. To avoid any anomalies.

Online Microsoft Fabric material to help spread your Power BI wings

Microsoft has been working on Microsoft Fabric for some time and it shows. Due to how much is available through this offering.

To align with the announcement a Microsoft Fabric Launch Digital event took place at the same time as Microsoft Build. You can watch both the Day 1 video and the Day 2 video on YouTube now.

In addition to the videos, there is other online material available for those who are interested in finding out more. For instance, there is a website that covers Microsoft Fabric.

Plus, Microsoft provides some really good end-to-end tutorials in Microsoft Fabric to help you get up to speed with it. You can also find a learning path to help you get started with Microsoft Fabric in Microsoft Learn.

Furthermore, there is already an online Fabric community that you can join.

Final words about spreading your Power BI wings with Microsoft Fabric

I hope this post about spreading your Power BI wings with Microsoft Fabric has proved to be useful. Because I wanted to highlight that having a Power BI background puts you in a good place to work Microsoft Fabric.

I honestly think that this new offering is so full of potential. Especially when you consider just how much you can do in one place. It is safe to assume that you will hear plenty more about it over the coming months.

Of course, if you have any comments or queries about this post feel free to reach out to me.

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