What are Power BI gateways?
A Power BI gateway is software that you install within an on-premises network; it facilitates access to data in that network. It's like a gatekeeper that listens for connection requests, and grants them only when a users' requests meet certain criteria. This lets organizations keep databases and other data sources on their on-premises networks, yet securely use that on-premises data in Power BI reports and dashboards.
A gateway can be used for a single data source or multiple data sources. The following diagram shows a basic view, with the gateway handling requests from the cloud for three on-premises computers. We'll expand on this later in the article.
Types of gateways
Power BI offers two gateways, each for a different scenario:
On-premises data gateway (personal mode) – allows one user to connect to sources, and can’t be shared with others. Can only be used with Power BI. This gateway is well-suited to scenarios where you’re the only person who creates reports, and you don't need to share the data sources with others.
On-premises data gateway – allows multiple users to connect to multiple on-premises data sources. Can be used by Power BI, PowerApps, Flow, Azure Analysis Services, and Azure Logic apps, all with a single gateway installation. This gateway is well-suited to more complex scenarios with multiple people accessing multiple data sources.
Using a gateway
There are four main steps for using a gateway:
- Install the gateway on a local computer, using the appropriate mode
- Add users to the gateway, so they can access on-premises data sources
- Connect to data sources, so they can be used in reports and dashboards
- Refresh on-premises data, so Power BI reports are up to date
You can install a stand-alone gateway or add a gateway to a cluster, which is recommended for high availability.
How gateways work
The gateway you install runs as a Windows service, On-premises data gateway. This local service is registered with the Gateway Cloud Service through Azure Service Bus. The following diagram shows the flow between on-premises data and the cloud services that use the gateway.
Queries and data flow:
- A query is created by the cloud service with the encrypted credentials for the on-premises data source. It's then sent to a queue for the gateway to process.
- The gateway cloud service analyzes the query and pushes the request to the Azure Service Bus.
- The on-premises data gateway polls the Azure Service Bus for pending requests.
- The gateway gets the query, decrypts the credentials, and connects to the data sources with those credentials.
- The gateway sends the query to the data source for execution.
- The results are sent from the data source, back to the gateway, and then onto the cloud service and your server.
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