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  • Blog May 28, 2019

    Data Security: Next Step in Power BI

    2 minutes read

Data today, which has evolved by leaps and bounds, is typically defined by the 4 V’s: volume, velocity, variety, and veracity. It has undoubtedly become the backbone of any organization. However, it creates a nightmare for businesses when it comes to moving this data from on-premise to the cloud. Data security and privacy are two primary concerns when contemplating this movement.

Migrating a BI system is a complex task, and with great complexities come various problems which hinder or delay the process. The adoption of BI within the cloud environment requires a robust cloud migration framework to assist decision makers in considering the consequences as well as the impact on security, privacy, cost, and performance. Of the various data security threats mentioned, a few stand out as most noteworthy:

1. Source Data Complexity: The data can be structured, semi-structured or unstructured and migrating this from source isn’t as simple as going from system A to system B. Data is ingested from numerous sources and stored in different formats making the streamlining of data flow too demanding.

2. Data Loss or Corruption: It is vital to protect data at all levels of BI system migration, and the chances of data corruption or loss can’t be ignored. It becomes imperative to store, protect and maintain data throughout the migration process.

3. Data quality: The quality of data can be compromised depending on how the data was received, entered at the source, integrated, maintained, processed, and loaded. The data also gets reshaped by numerous design and coding processes that load data into a warehouse environment.

4. Data Warehousing (DW) & ETL: The data needs to be extracted, transformed and loaded into a data warehouse during BI system migration. This creates numerous channels where data can be compromised during the process. Some of it might originate in data sources, data models, source data profiling, data staging or other ETLs.

Power BI: With Next Level Security

The modernization wave which has witnessed business intelligence platforms with augmented analytics and machine learning is disrupting the niche players. Power BI stands out by offering end-to-end data visualization with ML, NLP and a robust data security framework. It understands the data compliance and security needs for BI system migration on-premise or on-cloud. Power BI services are built on Azure, which offers robust security infrastructure and architecture. The data security covers data storage, service, and authentication with the following levels covered:

Data at Rest
Power BI stores and manages data in an Azure datacenter, which consists of two primary repositories:

Azure Blob Storage- Blob storage is optimized for storing massive amounts of unstructured data – including images, videos, audio, documents and backups. The REST-based object storage allows users to access the data anytime, anywhere across the globe.

Azure SQL Database- The SQL Azure database is a fully managed relational database with intelligent self-driving, performance tuning, and threat alert features designed to store data in the cloud. It quickly allows to scale the size of the databases, as per the business requirements.

Data in Transit
Power BI provides data integrity monitoring as data is extracted and uploaded to Power BI. This transit is carried out by using HTTPS, TCP/IP and TLS to ensure that data is encrypted. It also uses the client-side encryption approach along with Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to ensure robust security of the data-in-transit.

A few other features of Power BI, which define it as an unparalleled leader in the “ability to execute” axis of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant 2019 are:

  • Application Level Security- This lets you control access on a per-user role. This feature offers a role-based menu system, which displays various menu options to different users based on their role.
  • Row-Level Security (RLS)- One of the most powerful features of a BI tool that uses filters and restricts data access for mentioned users. Multi-tenant security lets you control data access within a single application at the row level, which means multiple users access the same application but view different data.
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)- A single sign-on lets users enter their name and password in one place and gain access to multiple related applications. It authenticates the user for all authorized applications and eliminates login prompts when switching applications in a single session.


    Image Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/#pivot=home&panel=home-all

BI System Migration: Are You Ready to Take This Leap?

The Power BI security architecture offers application and row-level security for BI system migration. An organization’s data security concerns when adopting a new BI system or migrating to a new vendor can now be addressed with Power BI. The self-service Power BI architecture addresses security concerns head-on, leaving you with one question to ask yourself: when will you stop letting your legacy BI tool hold you back and migrate to Power BI?