Archive for January, 2021

Speaking At : Data Event Vienna 2021 (SQLSaturday #1015)

Speaking At : Data Event Vienna 2021 (SQLSaturday #1015), January 15th 2021

This Friday, I’m coming out of my hibernation for presenting at remote events, and it’s a special one. The final SQL Saturday as we know it will be held virtually in Vienna, on Friday January 15th 2021. PASS is dissolving that same day, and the future of the SQL Saturday brand is unsure. SQL Saturday has been a very important part of my community engagements throughout the past years. From attending in Utrecht, to speaking at my first SQL Saturday in Munich, to helping to organise our own SQL Saturday Belgium. It’s been one heck of a ride, to say the very least.

I’ll be talking about Impactful Data Visualisations, and some things you can keep in mind to design them (Session Details). Kicking off at 10:15AM, you can find me in the “Power BI & Power Platform 1” room. Apart from my usual ramblings, there’ll be a stellar lineup with interesting topics to cater to your every needs. Registration is free, and open until Friday. Head over to their registration page, to join in on the fun!

SQL Saturday Vienna (1015)

Event Link : SQLSaturday #1015 – Vienna 2021 (Remote)
Event Date : Friday January 15th 2021
Session Time : 10:15 – 11:15 (UTC +1 / GMT)
Session : Designing impactful visualisations for your data

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T-SQL Tuesday #134 – Give me a break!

It’s T-SQL Tuesday!!

T-SQL Tuesday #134

T-SQL Tuesday #134

This is actually the first time I’m contributing to T-SQL Tuesday, after having read many of the entries in the years before.

T-SQL Tuesday is the brainchild of Adam Machanic (Blog | Twitter). December 2009 was the first T-SQL Tuesday invitation that went out by Adam. It is a monthly blog party on the second Tuesday of each month. Currently, Steve Jones (Blog | Twitter) organises the event and maintains a website with all previous posts. Everyone is welcome to participate in this monthly blog post.

The Ask

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by James McGillivray ( Blog | Twitter ). James wants to know how we’re managing to give ourselves some breaks, to keep ourselves from going even more bonkers.

The original post is here.

What do you do to take a break when you’re stuck at home?

Arguably so, I’ve always been terrible at setting aside time for breaks when working on my own. When working at a customer site, or in the office, things flowed a bit more naturally when grabbing a coffee, and having a chat. The reality of the past few months has been that I’ve been stuck behind my desk for hours on end, mostly being dragged into numerous Teams Meetings or Zoom Calls. I quickly realised that I needed to get this under control, to be able to last.

These days, my break times are mostly consumed by the doggo of the house, Pixie. She’s a nearly 2 years old Briard, who have a heritage as French shepherd dogs. Long story short, these dogs are incredibly active and fun to have around. Most days, I take her for a walk around the block before getting started. Then, during one of my coffee breaks, I go out in the garden and kick around some of the Jolly Balls I bought for her. At times like these, I can tell that she’s got some frustrations of her own to kill as well.

Playing with Pixie in the garden

Playing with Pixie in the garden

But in the weekends, when I have some more time on my hands, we usually go out for some bigger walks of up to 10-12 in the woods near where I live. This gives me some more time to clear my head, and gives the doggo some direly needed attention. Especially with the weather being a bit colder and some more rain, it’s mostly her diving head first into the first puddle she sees, and then continuing to do so for the rest of the walk. All good fun, but a long haired dog takes a looooong time to dry off :).

Walking the dog at Drieboomkesberg

Walking the dog at Drieboomkesberg

Pixie refusing to come out of a puddle

Pixie discovering some local water

Then, at evening times, I try to switch between doing some reading or studying for things I’m working on, or simply blowing up stuff in a video game. I’m keeping my sh*t together, but I’m frantically counting down the days for when I can go back to my regular activities to get some peace of mind.

In normal times, I’d have a Shin Kyokushin Karate training 2 – 3 times a week, depending on my schedule for that week. It’s a full contact sport, which means it’s physically demanding and exhausting, and I’ve never ever even had as much as a lost thought on stuff I was working on.
Ahhh, to be able to hit some people again 😃

If money was no issue, what would be your bucket list vacation?

I’d have to split it into two, and I’d be torn if I ever had to choose between those two.

I’ve always wanted to go to Japan to visit some of the heritage sites and the Honbu Dojo. Preferably in the same time span as the World Championship to be able to witness the insane atmosphere in the Tokyo Dome with 15000 spectators watching some of the greatest kumite matches our sport has to offer. Followed by a tour of some cities like Kyoto, Nagasaki, .. to make this a splendid trip with some of my karate friends.

Then, competely on the other end of the spectrum, and I’m doubtful that I’ll ever be able to do this. For years, we’ve always got together with some of my Chiro friends (compare it to Boy Scouts, to a certain extent), and do a weekend where we pull the same idiotic stunts we used to do when we were younger. We’re all a bit older now, and many of us settling in to work/life situations. Getting together isn’t as easy as it used to be. For that reason, I’d be thrilled if we were able to get away for a week or so, and go camping with the boys only. Pure nostalgia, to some of the most fond memories I have.

Conclusion

I’m managing to keep things afloat, but I’m ready for things to slowly get back to normal. Especially because I’ve not been able to go the practice 2-3 times a week, I’ve felt some built up frustrations that needed to get out.
Here’s to hoping we can all reconvene soon, and get ready for some more epic stories!

Stay safe, take care!

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Power BI Premium Per User – Who’s using it in your tenant?

Before digging into this, let’s be clear about 1 thing. When Power BI Premium Per User (PPU for short) and Power BI Premium v2 were announced at Ignite 2020, the collective user base of Power BI rejoiced, and I am happy to be among them. PPU is going to be an excellent addition to leverage Premium features, without having to pay for an entire P-sku, or deal with spinning up an A-sku. Left, right, and center, we’re seeing interesting new use cases pop up to make the most out of PowerBI. And I .. LOVE IT!

I do have some concerns right now, which will likely be taken away as we get closer to General Availability. An obvious one is that as of now (January 2021), there’s no public details about the pricing. By default, users can assign themselves a PPU license, and start building things as they see fit. Self-Service BI is great, especially when there’s some guard rails in place, and when a Data Culture is actively stimulated. Matthew Roche’s series, goes into this in a splendid fashion.

The other day, I was chatting with one of my clients about Premium Per User, and I gave them the practical guidance to not build any production level dependencies based on PPU features or workspaces, until some of the unknowns have been cleared up. If there’s end users relying on this for their actual daily job, then I’m calling it a production level dependency. Right now, these are preview features, and this client is not actively monitoring changes in the Power BI Landscape.

Shortly after, I got a message that some of their business users did build actual production reports and dataflows in PPU workspaces. And, they were not sure who in the company actually has access to PPU. And that’s where chase down the rabbit hole began 😃

Who can use PPU Features in my tenant?

By default, every user will be able to assign themselves a PPU trial license, and start experimenting. Users can also be assigned a PPU License through the M365 Admin Center, as outlined in the Power BI Premium per user public preview now available post by Chris Finlan.

This behaviour can be allowed, disabled, or scoped to a specific group of users. By default it will look the same, as shown in the image below.

Tenant Setting to allow users to try paid features

Tenant Setting to allow users to try paid features

In combination with the tenant setting for who can create workspaces, this will control the PPU experience, and how freely users can create experiences for themselves. By default, every user in your organisation can create new workspaces, and these will automatically be in the New Workspace Experience (v2 Workspaces).

Tenant Settings for Workspace Creation in your tenant

Tenant Setting for Workspace Creation in your tenant

Okay now, but who’s actually doing something with PPU Features in my tenant?

Attempt 1 – List out PPU Workspaces, get Capacity Information

My first thought was to grab an overview of workspaces that are on Dedicated Capacity using the Power BI PowerShell cmdlets (Get-PowerBIWorkspaces & Get-PowerBICapacity), and filter out workspaces that are linked to a PPU Capacity.

Then, for those workspaces, get the Users and/or Groups that have access to them using an InvokeRestMethod to the Admin API (GetGroupsAsAdmin, expand=users)

This works, to a certain extent. A few of the exceptions I thought of so far.

  • Just because a user is in a group that has access, doesn’t mean they actually have a PPU Subscription.
  • A user could have a PPU Subscription, and have left the PPU Workspaces.

Attempt 2 – Get License Information

We can grab the license information through the MS Online cmdlets (Get-MsolUser), AzureAD cmdlets (GetAzureADUserLicenseDetail), or the Graph API (https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/me/licensedetails).
The MS Online cmdlets don’t support authenticating through Service Principals, so don’t actually build any dependencies on this.

All these options give me a nice overview of :

  • Power BI Standard (Free) with ServicePlan: BI_AZURE_P0
  • Power BI Pro with ServicePlan : BI_AZURE_P2
  • Power BI Premium Per User with ServicePlan: BI_AZURE_P3
  • Office 365 E5 Subscriptions

My real concern is that this only lists the users that have been assigned this as a (purchased) Product, as part of the “skuPartNumber” PBI_PREMIUM_PER_USER.
Meaning, only the users that were assigned this subscription by an admin will show up this way. Usually, they will be tied to groups as well, which can easily be exported to get an overview.

Right now, I’m still missing the most important group of all, which is those that have assigned themselves an in-product trial version for Premium Per User from within the Power BI Service.
These are the users that are potentially flying under the radar, and exactly the ones that we want to identify

Attempt 3 – Microsoft 365 Admin Center

After being hinted by Jan Pieter Posthuma to read through the Self-service purchase FAQ | Microsoft Docs, there’s a screen where you can get an overview of paid trials. Alas, this isn’t giving me any results I expect to see, and seems to be tailored specifically to M365 products.
My own user has a trial license from within the Power BI Service, and this also doesn’t show up in the personal overview of Subscriptions & Licenses. Which explains to me why it doesn’t show up in the Admin Center either.

Attempt 4 – Track the Power BI Activity Log

Similar to the “OptInForProTrial” and “OptInForExtendedProTrial” activities that appear in the Power BI Activity Log when user assign themselves an in-product trial Power BI Pro Subscription, I was hoping to see the same for Power BI Premium Per User subscriptions. I’ve been using this method to track users getting a Pro Trial, and potentially will be needing an actual paid license within 60 days.

I assigned a test user an in-product trial subscription, and grabbed the activity logs the day after. This activity actually also shows up as “OptInForProTrial”, which made sense as soon I actually read through the post from Chris Finlan again, specifically the How To Get Started, Existing Users section.

Existing Free users – You will be given access to the PPU capabilities during the public preview period if you choose to opt-in to a Pro trial as an added benefit.  Since it will happen behind the scenes, the UI in the portal will still reflect that you have a Pro trial, but you will be able to access all the PPU features.

For the set of customers that have disabled their in-product trial experience, your Microsoft 365 tenant admin can opt-in to a trial experience there.

Going out on a limb, I’m assuming the in-product trial functions the same way for both Pro and PPU subscriptions, and this is why there’s no distinction possible in the User Interface or Activity Logs. Likely we’ll see some changes be made in the future, but I’ve no guarantees to back this up.

Bringing the attempts together

To circle back to an exhaustive overview, I’m rolling with a combination of Attempts 1, 2, and 4.

  • Getting the actual licensing information will give us the details on the users that have been assigned a license by an admin. (Attempt 2)
  • Monitor the Activity Log for “OptInForProTrial” activities

Right now the trial experience is the same for Pro and PPU Subscriptions, which means this is about as exhaustive as the list is going to be.  If you don’t have an extraction set up for Activity Logs, I suggest you do it as soon as possible.

Then, having identified the PPU Workspaces in Attempt 1, we can specifically track these in the Activity Log. If we’re seeing some specific activities in there by certain users, this could point out there’s usage going on beyond testing and development.

Conclusion

Getting this question, I underestimated the steps to get a complete answer, which is why I thought it could prove to be useful for other people. My biggest learning here, was that free users can actually assign themselves a PPU Subscription, but that it looks like a Pro Subscription in the user interface. Definitely something to keep in mind when determining your licensing strategy for Power BI.

Most importantly, this outlines once more why grabbing and storing the Power BI Activity Logs as soon as possible is crucial to understanding the usage in your tenant, and being able to act on that. Looking for an example on how to extract these logs? There’s some examples on Github by Melissa Coates, Alex Powers, or Aaron Nelson which can easily help you get started.

The hardest part to track are the in-product trials, and there’s varying opinions on these. I’ve seen organisations disable the “Allow users to try paid features” tenant setting, where users always have to be assigned a subscription, meaning they have to be available as well.
Additionally, you want to make sure your corporate workflows are fluid and fast enough to process incoming requests for subscriptions.

It’s all about walking the fine line between Self-Service BI and Managed Corporate BI, and finding the strengths your organisations can play to.

Thanks for reading!

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