SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview from a BI point of view

SharePoint Online and Power BI have a lot of attention and focus lately, but what about the on-premises version of SharePoint that’s used in almost all serious BI solutions today? Well SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview has just been released by Microsoft, by many stated as the last on-premises version of SharePoint ever. In this blog post I will focus on the BI features of SharePoint Server 2016.

So what kind of BI features are improved and what’s new? It’s better start with the question: which BI features will remain available in SharePoint 2016, because a lot of BI features will be deprecated or removed.

An overview of the main SharePoint BI capabilities and their availability in SharePoint 2016:

· Excel Services

Excel Services will no longer be available, it will completely move to Excel Online in Office Online.

· PowerPivot for SharePoint and Power View add-ins

These BI features are not available in the current release of the SharePoint 2016 IT Preview. Microsoft states they will implement them later this year, but when and in what form is uncertain.

· Reporting Services Integrated Mode

There is no news about Reporting Services Integrated Mode, but as I wrote in my last blog post, Reporting Services gets a big update in SQL Server 2016. One of the new possibilities will be the integration of Reporting Services and Power BI. So why still integrate with SharePoint?

With the release of the new Power BI Desktop (former Power BI designer) a lot of Power Pivot functionality move to Power BI. For example, you can now import Excel Power BI artifacts (Data Model, Queries, Power View) into a Power BI Desktop file. This new functionality, together with the Reporting Services/Power BI integration that’s coming and the news that Excel Services will no longer be available in SharePoint 2016, raises the question if BI solutions will continue to need SharePoint in the future. All functionality seems to be moving to Power BI!

On the other hand, Microsoft recently announced a collaboration with Pyramid Analytics which will offer the possibility to deploy a Power BI Desktop file to an on-premises Pyramid Analytics server, bringing Power BI on-premises. Pyramid Analytics offered SharePoint integration in the past, so maybe they will integrate again with SharePoint 2016, which results in a Power BI and SharePoint 2016 integration, making SharePoint more important than ever for on-premises solutions.

It’s clear there is a lot of uncertainty about the future of SharePoint as part of the Microsoft BI platform! To be continued…