Some time between January and now, a new preview feature was included in Power BI Portal. It’s a new Manage Connections and Gateway window, still in preview. We can access this option on the Settings button.
In the past, the connections were related to on-premises data gateways. For each gateway we could create many connections and manage who would be the users with permissions to re-use these connections.
This is a separation of responsibilities: A Power BI Administrator, or gateway administrator, can be the responsible to create and manage the connections, while Power BI developers can use the connections without knowing the details about the connectivity.
The cloud brought the need of the Virtual network data gateways, which I explained in another article. The connections can be linked to an on-premises data gateway, a VNet data gateway or can also be a direct connection to a cloud resource.
Considering this evolution, the new Connections Management window allow us to manage the connections by themselves, independent of the gateways.
Each connection has an action button which allow us to manage the access to the connection (Manage Users), change the connection configuration (Settings) or remove the connection.
Imagine creating 30 reports over the same connection. If you need to move the data source to a new place, you can reconfigure the connection one single time on the portal and all the reports will access the data from the new location.
If we click the button New we can create a new connection. We can choose if the connection will be linked with an on-premises data gateway, a VNET Gateway or if it will be a connection directly to a cloud resource.
Limitations of the Preview
The connection configuration is limited at the moment: We can’t change the connection location, such as the address of the storage account, but we can change the authentication.
We can use existing connections or create new ones in Microsoft Fabric. In Datamarts or Dataflows we can only create new connections, but not use existing ones. On the other hand, in Power BI Desktop we can’t create or use the connections at the moment.
This feature is still limited, but it’s an important backbone service in Microsoft Fabric/Power BI environment which is related with many more resources in the entire Microsoft Fabric ecosystem.