What is Microsoft Power BI Gateway? A Detailed Guide

When your business grows, your data infrastructure grows as well. At this stage, you need multiple connections to create a single Power BI report.

There are over 50 native connectors in the Power BI service to help you create powerful Power BI reports when you have a large data infrastructure. But, it is not that easy when you want to establish a connection between your on-premises and cloud data.

This is where you need a Power BI gateway as it allows you to connect with the on-premises data source. Learn every important information that you should know about Power BI gateways and how to it properly generate reports for your business. So here we go to learn first what is Power BI gateway.

What is Power BI Gateway?

Power BI gateway is software you require to access data in an on-premises network. It is the gatekeeper for the on-premises data sources.

Gateways facilitate highly secure connections between single/multiple data source(s) and the on-premises data sources.

  • To access the data using the Power BI data gateway, you first have to make a request to the gateway
  • You get access once the gateway validates the request’s authenticity

This may seem like a long process but it happens within split seconds.

Remember that the Power BI gateway is not a data tunnel. Power BI gateway does not transfer data from the on-premises data source to the client platform. Instead, it directly connects your platform with the on-premises data source.

You can then directly access data from the on-premises data sources to make reports and dashboards, and perform data analysis efficiently. Learn the differences between reports and dashboards in this guide.

Why Does Power BI Require Gateways?

Here’s why Power BI service requires gateways:

  • Power BI gateways are a pathway between your on-premises and cloud-based data
  • Gateways allow secure data transfer between resources with its encryption
  • Gateways stream data to create good reports and dashboards without any hassle
  • Updates your reports by refreshing data at a regular time duration

However, the actual need for using Power BI gateways is highly situational.

Here’s how:

  • You do not need a Power BI data gateway if most of your data sources are on an Azure cloud server
  • You will need a gateway if you’re using a SQL server located on your local domain network server

What are the Different Gateway types in Power BI?

There are three types of gateways in Power BI service:

  • Standard on-premises data gateway
  • Personal on-premises data gateway
  • Virtual network data gateway

Let’s get a quick brief of all these three gateways from the following table.

Power BI Gateways: Standard vs Personal vs Virtual Network

Here’s a quick comparison among the 3 Power BI data gateways:

Factors Standard Mode Personal Mode Virtual Network
Target Power BI User Multiple BI developers and Power BI admins Individual business analysts are the only person creating good reports and don’t have to share data sources with others Multiple BI developers working with multiple data sources
  • Import data
  • Scheduled Refreshes
  • Live Connection
  • DirectQuery
  • Scheduled Refreshes
  • Import Data
  • Import data
  • Scheduled Refreshes
  • Live Connection
  • DirectQuery
Management style There is a central hub for managing the data sources An individual user manages the data source Similar to the Standard version
Control BI Admin is in charge of managing and controlling the gateways The personal mode requires no control Admin looks after the virtual network gateways
Support services Support Power BI and associated Microsoft cloud services like PowerApps, Azure Logic Apps, and Microsoft Flow Only supports Power BI
  • Azure SQL
  • Azure Synapse
  • Analytics
  • Azure Databricks
  • Azure Data Explorer (Kusto)
  • Azure Table Storage
  • Azure Blob Storage
  • Azure HDInsight (Spark)
  • Azure Data Lake (Gen2)
  • Cosmos DB
  • Azure SQL Managed Instance (MI)
  • Snowflake
  • PostgreSQL

Now, let’s understand all three types of Power BI gateways in-depth.

  1. On-premise Data Gateway (Standard)

  2. If you have a multi-licensed Power BI subscription, a standard on-premises data gateway is for you. Here’s more about the standard version:

    • The standard version of the Power BI gateway supports multiple users. It offers access to a multi-developer environment that encourages collaboration and report sharing. This standard version is more suitable for a development team.
    • The standard data gateway features include a lot more than a multi-developer environment. It also supports other Microsoft cloud technologies like Azure Logic apps, Microsoft Flow, and Power Apps.
    • The gateway is robust enough to support all types of Power BI, including Live Connections and DirectQuery. Data import and scheduled refreshes are also available.
    • The standard gateway is ideal for enterprise operations. You also get access to a more centralized control panel for this type of data gateway.
  3. On-premise Data Gateway (Personal Mode)

  4. The personal Power BI data gateway is easier to install than the standard version. However, features are limited in this version.

    Let’s look at the on-premise data gateway to see what it offers:

    • You can only connect to local data sources like Excel, SQL Server, and similar other sources.
    • The personal mode gateway only supports a single connection. You can utilize the connection to refresh data or import it.
    • Unlike the standard gateway that you could use with various Microsoft Cloud Services, you can use the personal mode gateway only with Power BI.
    • Installing and deploying your personal data analysis ML models is easier with personal on-premise gateways.
    • There are not many configuration options after you install the software so it is easy to set up.
    • On-premise data gateway disallows multiple users to work on it at the same time. Hence, this mode is not suitable for team development.
    • The on-premise personal mode gateway is most suitable for individual business analysts who want to create their reports without any hindrance. You can also refresh the data and share the Power BI reports with your peers quite easily.
  5. Virtual Network Data Gateway

  6. As the name suggests, this gateway connects multiple data sources present in the virtual network. In some cases, you do not even have to install it to use it.

    Microsoft entirely manages the Virtual Network Data Gateway. It is useful in complex scenarios where multiple people are working on the report and are using multiple data sources.

    Now that we have clarity on different types of Power BI data gateways, let’s understand how Power BI data gateways work.

What is Power BI Gateway Architecture?

Understanding the on-premise gateway architecture can be quite complex. Hence, here is a simple explanation for you to understand it easily.

The on-premise data gateway architecture has three parts:

  • On-premise data sources
  • Gateway
  • Cloud service

Step-by-step working of the Power BI data gateway:

  1. The Power BI cloud service creates a query with encrypted credentials for the data sources.
  2. The query is sent to line up in the gateway processing queue.
  3. The gateway cloud service processes the query and sends it to Azure Service Bus Messaging.
  4. Azure Service Bus Messaging sends the pending requests to the gateway.
  5. The gateway decrypts the query and finds the credentials. The credentials are linked to similar data sources.
  6. The gateway sends the query to the data source for processing.
  7. The results are retrieved and sent to the cloud service to display.

Note: Data refresh cycles of Power BI and Azure Analysis Services can send back a large amount of data. Such cycles can upset the query sent to the data source. The gateway machine temporarily stores the query to prevent this. The query moves forward after the completion of the refresh cycle.

How to Install Power BI Gateway?

Let’s go through the steps to install Personal, Standard, and Cluster Power BI data gateways:

  1. Steps to download Power BI Personal On-premise Gateway

  2. Downloading and setting the personal mode of the on-premise data gateway is easier than the standard version. Here are the steps you need to follow:

    1. Download the On-premise data (personal) gateway from the official Power BI or Microsoft website.
    2. Once the download is complete, open the installer and select the installation path.
    3. Continue clicking on Next, then accept the terms.
    4. Click on Install.
    5. install path personal

      Source: Microsoft

    6. After the installation process is complete, enter your email address connected to Office 365 and click on Sign In. The email address field can only take a work account; your personal email account will not work here.
    7. email address personal

      Source: Microsoft

    8. After signing in, close the installer. Now, you can use your personal on-premises data gateway in Power BI.
    9. summary screen personal

      Source: Microsoft

  3. Steps to download Power BI On-premise Data Gateway (Standard/Recommended)

  4. The standard gateways only operate from the system on which you install it. So, for a seamless experience, download the gateway software on the computer that always stays on. And ensure that you connect the computer to the wired network.

    1. Search and download the standard Power BI on-premises data gateway software on Microsoft and Power BI website.
    2. Launch the installer, select the terms and conditions, set your default download location, and click on install.
    3. install path

      Source: Microsoft

    4. Enter the email address to your Office 365 account. Click on Sign-in.
    5. email address

      Source: Microsoft

    6. Now, a new dialogue will appear. Click on Register a new gateway and press enter. You can click on the second option if you have pre-existing gateways.
    7. register gateway

      Source: Microsoft

    8. Enter the name and the recovery key for your gateway. Ensure that the name is unique across the various systems. You utilize the recovery key if you need to move or recover your current gateways.
    9. Click on configure.
    10. configure gateway

      Source: Microsoft

    11. You can select and change the region where your gateways operate from.
    12. Finally, review all the details about the download and click on close.
    13. summary screen

      Source: Microsoft

  5. Creating a Cluster gateway

  6. A gateway cluster prevents the failure of data flow. If the primary gateway is malfunctioning, you can redirect data connection requests through the other gateways.

    You must download any additional gateway on another computer. This prevents redundancy and overloading of the gateways.

    Creating a cluster gateway is easy. Here’s how you do it:

    1. During the installation of the standard on-premises data gateway, there was a tick box stating—add to an existing gateway cluster.
    2. Click on it while downloading the gateway software on another computer.
    3. From the drop-down menu, select the first gateway and enter the recovery key.
    4. Click on configure to finish creating the cluster.
    5. add cluster

      Source: Microsoft

    Are you looking to learn more about Microsoft Power BI tool? Check the following section of different blogs that are on Power BI.

    Do you have more questions about gateways in Power BI? Go through the following section to get answers to the most asked questions.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the difference between Power BI gateway Standard vs Personal?

    The main difference between the Power BI gateway Standard and the Personal is that the personal version is more suitable for individual business analysts. Whereas, the standard version is better for multiple users.

    What is a gateway connection?

    A gateway creates a connection between your cloud-based apps and on-premise data storage.

    What is the minimum configuration required for the Power BI gateway?

    The minimum requirement for operating a Power BI data gateway is the availability of 64-bit Windows 7 and a .NET 4.5 framework. But this software would work better if you had the latest windows updates and an 8-core CPU.


    In this blog, you have learned about all the core information on the gateway in Power BI, what is its need, and what are its various versions. You have understood how the Power BI gateway works and how to install it and start using it. The purpose of Power BI gateways is indispensable. You need gateways as they are a bridge that provides quick and secure data transfer between Microsoft Cloud Services and on-premises data.

    You only require gateways if you want to use your on-premise network servers. In all other cases, you can import, refresh and manipulate data using the native connectors of the Power BI service. You can use gateways more effectively if you import all your data sources before mapping them with data sets. This Power BI gateway guide will help you make the most of the tool.

Gaurang Bhatt

Written by

Gaurang Bhatt

Gaurang has 15+ years of experience solving complex business problems and enabling businesses with data-driven decisions using data analysis and predictive modeling tools like Tableau, Power BI, Looker, and Google Data Studio. His expertise lies in data visualization, reporting, and creating ETL pipelines. In addition, he is passionate about exploring different technologies like machine learning and AI. He shares his knowledge and learnings on the LabsMedia platform.