An online service provided by Microsoft as part of Power BI (software as a service, or SaaS).
In effect dataflows are an online data collection and storage tool.
- Collection: It uses Power Query to connect to the data at the source and transform that data as needed.
- You will need to be able to access the data either through a cloud service (such as Dynamics 365) or to your PC/Network via a gateway.
- You can also use Power Query to write queries from scratch, such as my Power BI calendar table.
- Storage: Dataflows then stores that data in a table in the cloud so it can be used directly inside PowerBI.com, but more importantly (from my view) directly from Power BI Desktop.
Dataflows leverage the Power Query skills you have learnt (or are learning) using other tools (like Power BI Desktop, Power Query for Excel) allowing you to reuse those same skills in this online tool.
Tables that are created as a result of the dataflow are stored in an Azure Data Lake.
- If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry – I don’t understand it either. The point is it doesn’t matter because it is all done automatically for you by the tool.
Dataflows include the concept of the common data service (CDS) or common data model directly in the tool and you don’t have to know what it is, nor care.
If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry – it doesn’t matter now/yet.
This will become very important in the future as it will make the process of getting data out of complex databases (such as MS Dynamics 365) much easier in the future.
Click through for more detail as well as some good uses for Dataflows.