Power BI Cloud Migration Overview

Table of Contents



Beginning in January 2023, Davidson T&I will begin a concerted effort to migrate the majority of Davidson's existing reports on data.davidson.edu into the Power BI Service, which is Microsoft's cloud platform for hosting Power BI datasets and reports.

There are many reasons for doing this migration, but the primary reasons are:

  1. The Power BI cloud makes it easier for users to share datasets and reports with others, and to create their own custom reports in Excel or Power BI.
  2. The Power BI cloud has numerous administration and governance features that better enable T&I to secure the college's data, while still empowering subject matter experts outside T&I to build and share reports effectively.
  3. Upgrading to the cloud platform helps Davidson conform to the latest best practices and standards for data management and business intelligence.

data.davidson.edu (formerly known as "Inside Davidson Reports"):


The Power BI Service (cloud):



Which reports will NOT be migrated?

These reports will remain on data.davidson.edu for the time being:

  • Finance reports: Because of the Oracle ERP implementation project, we do not plan to migrate any finance reports to the cloud. Most of the existing finance reports will be made obsolete by early 2024, and we will be evaluating Oracle's capabilities throughout 2023 to determine if any need remains for Davidson to develop custom finance reports.
    • NOTE: We have made one notable exception with regard to finance reports: the Departmental Budget Reports. The Monthly Budget Report, Operating Budget Report, and Fund Balance Report have all been migrated to the Power BI Service so you can use them alongside other cloud-based reports. If you are a departmental budget manager, you will find these reports listed among your shared reports.
  • Reports for managers and supervisors: Similar to the finance reports, these HR-centric reports will be made obsolete by the Oracle HCM implementation taking place in the 2023-2024 timeframe. We will be evaluating Oracle's capabilities throughout 2023 to determine if any need remains for Davidson to develop custom HR reports.
  • "Self-service" reports: these rely primarily on finance and HR data from Banner, so they will remain in place until the Oracle HCM/ERP implementation is complete.
    • NOTE: An exception we've made here is the Vendor Lookup and Chart of Accounts Lookup reports. These are Power BI reports that are widely used by departmental budget managers, so we felt it was a good idea to make these available in the cloud.
  • Class rosters for faculty: Faculty-facing class rosters will remain on data.davidson.edu due to license constraints: we don't have enough available Power BI cloud licenses to cover all of Davidson's 200+ faculty members. However, the advanced suite of reports used by department chairs and program heads to track student degree progress will migrate to the cloud.
  • Holistic advisor reports: We don't have enough Power BI licenses to cover all of Davidson's holistic advisors.
  • College Directory reports: These will be retired in Spring 2023 as they are no longer needed by the college. Directory functionality is already available elsewhere, and will likely be moving to Oracle in 2024.

Anything else not listed here is up for grabs! Check the Migration roadmap below to see when specific areas will be migrating to the Power BI cloud.


How is the cloud different from data.davidson.edu?

It's nearly impossible to answer this question in a single article, but we'll give you the highlights.

  • Organization: whereas the report server on data.davidson.edu organizes reports into a rigid hierarchy of folders and subfolders, the Power BI cloud organizes content into workspaces. Workspaces typically align to a department or a specific business purpose. For instance, the Center for Teaching and Learning may have its own workspace for internal reporting. Meanwhile, the Registrar may have multiple workspaces: one designed for their own internal reports, and another for hosting reports that are meant to be shared with other teams.
  • Licenses: Perhaps the factor most directly influencing the pace of our migration is licensing. Whereas data.davidson.edu does not require users to have licenses to run reports, the Power BI cloud does require it. There are two different tiers: Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium. Each user is assigned a license, which allows them to see and work inside any shared workspaces they have access to. These are user-based licenses, not volume-based or site licenses, meaning each license is assigned to a specific user and stays with that person until it is revoked and/or they leave Davidson College.
    • Side note: all users at Davidson, including students, automatically have access to Power BI Free licenses, which they can claim by simply logging into the Power BI Service; free licenses give each user access to a personal workspace for working on their own projects, but they are unable to share content with other users at Davidson until they receive a Pro or Premium license.
  • Sharing: On data.davidson.edu, due to the rigid nature of the folder hierarchy, reports could not be shared easily with cross-functional teams unless you gave outside users access to all reports in a folder (which is not desirable for security reasons) or you put the report into a separate folder permissioned just for that subset of users. In the Power BI cloud, if you want to distribute a single report to a group of users, but you don't want to give them access to the entire workspace, you can use the Sharing feature to share the report with them, allowing them to see only that specific content.
  • Self-service reporting: Non-technical users are severely constrained on data.davidson.edu: if a user wants to create their own customized report, they need to download a Windows-only desktop application, install database drivers, acquire database permissions, and learn how to build everything. With the move to the Power BI cloud, it's much easier for non-technical users to connect to an existing dataset from Excel, or they can build interactive reports in their web browser using the cloud's built-in report development tools. If they don't want to share the report with other users, they can keep these reports in their own personal workspace. Furthermore, using the Data Hub in the cloud, they can also see a list of available datasets and request access to them from the dataset owners. In effect, the Power BI cloud becomes a college-wide data catalog where you can browse and connect to available datasets to create your own reports and learn new data skills.

Some more differences:

  • Better support for Mac users
  • Power BI mobile app for iOS and Android
  • No more need for VPN!
  • Built-in tools for machine learning and predictive analytics

The reports themselves will not be altered in any significant way. They're simply being "re-homed" by being published to the cloud. Some reports may undergo some cosmetic updates to bring them up to date with our current style guide. Otherwise, the biggest change you should anticipate is the shift in location.


Migration roadmap

Phase 1: Spring 2023

Area Migration status Anticipated completion date
AADR ✅ Completed  
Athletics ✅ Completed  
Enrollment Management ✅ Completed  
Academic Affairs ✅ Completed  
Dean of Students ✅ Completed  
Tutorial Services (CTL) ✅ Completed  
Banner Audit ✅ Completed  
College Relations/Advancement Ops ✅ Completed  

College Relations/Donor Relations

✅ Completed  
Technology & Innovation Pending Apr 30, 2023
Department Chairs Pending May 31, 2023
Registrar Pending TBD

Phase 2: Summer 2023

TBD, likely Admission & Financial Aid reports.

Fall 2023 and beyond

TBD, hopefully College Relations reports.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I access the Power BI cloud?

Follow these steps to access the Power BI Service in the cloud:

  1. Open a new browser tab and navigate to https://app.powerbi.com/.
  2. Enter your Davidson email address and click "Submit."
  3. Enter your Davidson password and click "Sign in" to continue.
  4. Answer the Duo challenge on your phone or other device.

Where can I get additional training on Power BI?

Training for individuals and departments is available from Pete Benbow on the T&I Data Management team. Please contact Pete to request training or resources.

How do I see what kind of Power BI license I have?

After signing into the Power BI Service, find your user picture/avatar in the upper-right corner of the application. Click this to see your account details. Directly below your email address, you should see a section which identifies whether you have a Free, Pro, or Premium license.


How do I request a Pro or Premium license?

Please submit a help desk ticket to ti@davidson.edu and explicitly direct your ticket to the T&I Data Management team, letting us know which type of license you are requesting and for what purpose. The type of license you have may constrain your ability to see and work with certain workspaces and reports, so your exact needs must be carefully considered.

The number of available licenses changes from month to month due to employees leaving or arriving, and the ebb and flow of various project work. Due to their lower cost, we keep more Pro licenses on hand than Premium licenses, which also means Pro licenses are in higher demand.

If we do not have enough licenses on hand to cover your needs, we can request additional ones from our vendor via purchase order. It typically takes 2-3 weeks for these orders to be fulfilled and the new licenses to arrive on our cloud tenant, so please consider your needs ahead of time to avoid delays.

Breakdown of Power BI license costs:

Power BI Pro
  • Monthly: $2.10 per user per month
  • Annually: $25.20 per user per year
Power BI Premium
  • Monthly: $4.50 per user per month
  • Annually: $54.00 per user per year


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