Delivering external customer reporting can be a pain - you have to rely on old distribution methods such as email, trying to get the right report to the right person with the right data - or build custom portals with their own limitations, overheads and complexities. If only you could deliver something as slick as Power BI to customers, that would be nice, right?
Wait... can I do external customer reporting using Power BI?
Yes! It's in fact possible to deliver a complete reporting solution using cloud technologies only - with the full strength of AD security behind it. In this post I will quickly show you how it can be done.
There are 4 key ingredients in this mix:
- Data - doesn't really matter as long as PBI can connect to it but SQL Azure is a good option as it makes the user security easier
- Security - IAM (user management) through Azure Active Directory B2C
- Web - Using an Azure Web App - so your code lives in the cloud on a hosted platform
- Power BI - using the awesome Power BI Embedded
How does this all work? Let's use a nice picture:
The Web App hosts the Power BI Reports and controls access to what reports can be seen. Using Row Level Security you can deliver the same report to different clients and give them insights only on the data that applies to them. Azure AD B2C handles all the IAM stuff so all you have to do is approve users and update your controlling table that drives Row Level Security.
How do I know it works?
We are delivering external customer reporting right now for one of our clients using the described architecture (with a minor adjustment because Azure AD B2C isn't quite available in Australia yet - it's still secure but we had to put the IAM elsewhere).
So now there is a viable way to deliver external customer reporting using all the slickness of Power BI completely on the cloud. If you want to know more please get in touch below!