Microsoft Power BI users warned over pace of Fabric migration

Users given less than three months to move to the new platform for some services, analyst points out

Build As Microsoft Build in Seattle kicks off today, one analyst has pointed out that the Redmond software giant is giving users scant time to get off its popular BI system and re-implement their solutions.

Microsoft announced its new analytics platform Fabric in June last year, and added data mirroring features in November.

If users of its existing Power BI analytic tools were wondering where their future lay, Microsoft gave them some clarity in February.

In a blog post, Ancy Philip, program manager, Power BI warned that Power BI Automated Machine Learning (AutoML) models for Dataflows V1 would be retired starting 28 March. By April 22, the company confirmed all of the AutoML models for Dataflows V1 had been "deprecated."

"We encourage customers to migrate their solution to the AutoML solution based on Synapse Data Science in Microsoft Fabric, which has been released in Preview," Philip said.

Now Andrew Snodgrass, analyst with Directions on Microsoft, has warned this was only the start, and Power BI users could expect many of the services on which they have built solutions to disappear over a short period of time. Migration to the replacement services in Fabric, is far from trivial, he argued.

Snodgrass had already warned in April that Microsoft was bringing its Power BI licensing in line with Fabric.

Following these changes to licenses, users are likely to see more news about the Power BI features they use, he said.

"I don't think this will be the end of retiring Power BI features, as there are several features in danger, whether Microsoft has publicly admitted it or not. The way I see it, any Power BI feature that is not part of visualization and can be replaced by a Fabric feature will be replaced, and probably with very little notice," he said in a blog post.

Products at risk of being retired include Power BI Datamarts, Streaming Data, Data compliance and Desktop Developer mode. Most of these are likely to be replaced by equivalent products in Fabric, Snodgrass said. However, in some cases, the alternative was not yet fully available.

"AutoML in Fabric Data Science is still in preview, so it's not actually supported for production use? That last point is interesting, because I know lots of customers who have policies preventing the use of preview features for production," he said.

When Microsoft announced Fabric it said it would address "every aspect of an organization's analytics needs." The platform includes a virtualized data lake called OneLake, which is built on the existing Azure Data Lake Storage Gen 2 but adds shortcuts to data in AWS S3 and, soon, Google Storage. There are seven core workloads in Microsoft Fabric: Data Factory (connectors), Synapse Data Engineering (authoring for Apache Spark), Synapse Data Science (build AI models), Synapse Data Warehousing, Synapse Real Time Analytics, Power BI, and Data Activator (monitoring data and triggering notifications and events).

Snodgrass said the replacement of Power BI with Fabric was "a reasonable long term objective." However, he warned that "customers shouldn't expect that they will have years to make the migration."

"If you have deployments that depend on Power BI/Fabric overlapping features, make plans to migrate them to Fabric soon… Ultimately, I'm not sure there will be an option to have a Power BI–only environment," he said.

The Register has asked Microsoft to respond to these comments. ®

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