7 min read

In this tutorial, you will understand and learn administration rights/rules for Power BI users. This includes setting and monitoring rules like; who in the organization can utilize which feature, how Power BI Premium capacity is allocated and by whom, and other settings such as embed codes and custom visuals.

This article is an excerpt from a book written by Brett Powell titled Mastering Microsoft Power BI.

The admin portal is accessible to Office 365 Global Administrators and users mapped to the Power BI service administrator role. To open the admin portal, log in to the Power BI service and select the Admin portal item from the Settings (Gear icon) menu in the top right, as shown in the following screenshot:

Admin portal in Settings menu

All Power BI users, including Power BI free users, are able to access the Admin portal. However, users who are not admins can only view the Capacity settings page. The Power BI service administrators and Office 365 global administrators have view and edit access to the following seven pages:

Admin portal pages

Administrators of Power BI most commonly utilize the Tenant settings and Capacity settings as described in the Tenant Settings and Power BI Premium Capacities sections later in this tutorial. However, the admin portal can also be used to manage any approved custom visuals for the organization.

Usage metrics

The Usage metrics page of the Admin portal provides admins with a Power BI dashboard of several top metrics, such as the most consumed dashboards and the most consumed dashboards by workspace. However, the dashboard cannot be modified and the tiles of the dashboard are not linked to any underlying reports or separate dashboards to support further analysis.

Given these limitations, alternative monitoring solutions are recommended, such as the Office 365 audit logs and usage metric datasets specific to Power BI apps. Details of both monitoring options are included in the app usage metrics and Power BI audit log activities sections later in this chapter.

Users and Audit logs

The Users and Audit logs pages only provide links to the Office 365 admin center. In the admin center, Power BI users can be added, removed and managed. If audit logging is enabled for the organization via the Create audit logs for internal activity and auditing and compliance tenant setting, this audit log data can be retrieved from the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center or via PowerShell. This setting is noted in the following section regarding the Tenant settings tab of the Power BI admin portal.

An Office 365 license is not required to utilize the Office 365 admin center for Power BI license assignments or to retrieve Power BI audit log activity.

Tenant settings

The Tenant settings page of the Admin portal allows administrators to enable or disable various features of the Power BI web service. Likewise, the administrator could allow only a certain security group to embed Power BI content in SaaS applications such as SharePoint Online.

The following diagram identifies the 18 tenant settings currently available in the admin portal and the scope available to administrators for configuring each setting:

Power BI Tenant settings

From a data security perspective, the first seven settings within the Export and Sharing and Content packs and apps groups are most important. For example, many organizations choose to disable the Publish to web feature for the entire organization. Additionally, only certain security groups may be allowed to export data or to print hard copies of reports and dashboards. As shown in the Scope column of the previous table and the following example, granular security group configurations are available to minimize risk and manage the overall deployment.

Currently, only one tenant setting is available for custom visuals and this setting (Custom visuals settings) can be enabled or disabled for the entire organization only. For organizations that wish to restrict or prohibit custom visuals for security reasons, this setting can be used to eliminate the ability to add, view, share, or interact with custom visuals. More granular controls to this setting are expected later in 2018, such as the ability to define users or security groups of users who are allowed to use custom visuals.

In the following screenshot from the Tenant settings page of the Admin portal, only the users within the BI Admin security group who are not also members of the BI Team security group are allowed to publish apps to the entire organization:

Security group permissions in Tenant settings

For example, a report author who also helps administer the On-premises data gateway via the BI Admin security group would be denied the ability to publish apps to the organization given membership in the BI Team security group. Many of the tenant setting configurations will be more simple than this example, particularly for smaller organizations or at the beginning of Power BI deployments. However, as adoption grows and the team responsible for Power BI changes, it’s important that the security groups created to help administer these settings are kept up to date.

Embed Codes

Embed Codes are created and stored in the Power BI service when the Publish to web feature is utilized. As described in the Publish to web section of the previous chapter, this feature allows a Power BI report to be embedded in any website or shared via URL on the public internet. Users with edit rights to the workspace of the published to web content are able to manage the embed codes themselves from within the workspace. However, the admin portal provides visibility and access to embed codes across all workspaces, as shown in the following screenshot:

Embed Codes in Power BI admin portal

Via the Actions commands on the far right of the Embed Codes page, a Power BI Admin can view the report in a browser (diagonal arrow) or remove the embed code. The Embed Codes page can be helpful to periodically monitor the usage of the Publish to web feature and for scenarios in which data was included in a publish to web report that shouldn’t have been, and thus needs to be removed. As shown in the Power BI Tenant settings table referenced in the previous section, this feature can be enabled or disabled for the entire organization or for specific users within security groups.

Organizational Custom visuals

The Custom Visuals page allows admins to upload and manage custom visuals (.pbiviz files) that have been approved for use within the organization. For example, an organization may have proprietary custom visuals developed internally, which it wishes to expose to business users. Alternatively, the organization may wish to define a set of approved custom visuals, such as only the custom visuals that have been certified by Microsoft.

In the following screenshot, the Chiclet Slicer custom visual is added as an organizational custom visual from the Organizational visuals page of the Power BI admin portal:

Add organizational custom visual

The Organizational visuals page provides a link (Add a custom visual) to launch the form and identifies all uploaded visuals, as well as their last update. Once a visual has been uploaded, it can be deleted but not updated or modified. Therefore, when a new version of an organizational visual becomes available, this visual can be added to the list of organizational visuals with a descriptive title (Chiclet Slicer v2.0). Deleting an organizational custom visual will cause any reports that use this visual to stop rendering.

The following screenshot reflects the uploaded Chiclet Slicer custom visual on the Organization visuals page:

Organization Visuals page in Power BI admin portal

Once the custom visual has been uploaded as an organizational custom visual, it will be accessible to users in Power BI Desktop. In the following screenshot from Power BI Desktop, the user has opened the MARKETPLACE of custom visuals and selected MY ORGANIZATION:

 Power BI Custom visuals

In this screenshot, rather than searching through the MARKETPLACE, the user can go directly to visuals defined by the organization. The marketplace of custom visuals can be launched via either the Visualizations pane or the From Marketplace icon on the Home tab of the ribbon.

Organizational custom visuals are not supported for reports or dashboards shared with external users. Additionally, organizational custom visuals used in reports that utilize the publish to web feature will not render outside the Power BI tenant. Moreover, Organizational custom visuals are currently a preview feature. Therefore, users must enable the My organization custom visuals feature via the Preview features tab of the Options window in Power BI Desktop.

With this, we got you acquainted with features and processes applicable in administering Power BI for an organization. This includes the configuration of tenant settings in the Power BI admin portal, analyzing the usage of Power BI assets, and monitoring overall user activity via the Office 365 audit logs.

If you found this tutorial useful, do check out the book Mastering Microsoft Power BI to develop visually rich, immersive, and interactive Power BI reports and dashboards.

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Category Manager and tech enthusiast. Previously worked on global market research and lead generation assignments. Keeps a constant eye on Artificial Intelligence.


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