Man – that’s a boring title. But it’s accurate.
A few months ago, I posted an article outlining how to connect Power BI to Azure Application Insights and Azure Log Analytics (jointly referred to as Azure Monitor) with Direct Query. This article describes an approach that allows you to use a native Kusto connector to connect to the Azure Monitor instance as if it were an ADX cluster. This allows for Direct Query to be used, among other things. The option connecting Power BI available through the Azure Monitor UI uses an html connector to query the respective APIs, and that connector doesn’t support Direct Query.
The problem with using this connector is that it’s a bit of a hack. At the time it was written, you needed to use the old Power BI driver for Kusto to make it work, and that approach isn’t simple. Over time, it stopped working altogether for Application Insights. The ADX connector has since been updated to support connection to Azure Log Analytics (but not Application Insights) and is therefore still valid.
There is however another way to achieve this by using your own ADX cluster. ADX clusters allow for “cross-cluster queries” that permit tables in a database in one cluster to be joined or unioned with tables in a completely different cluster. The same proxy addresses mentioned above can be used in one of these cross-cluster queries, and in this way, be just use the ADX cluster as an intermediary.
Everything that you need to know about this approach can be found in the support article “Query data in Azure Monitor using Azure Data Explorer”
To create a Power BI report that queries Azure Monitor data using Direct Query, first create a new report, and connect to data using the “Azure Data Explorer (Kusto) connector”. Enter the address of the cluster, and the name of a database within that cluster. The database itself doesn’t matter; it simply provides a scope for the query. Finally, you need to specify the query, and this is where the cross-cluster query comes into the picture. The query takes the following form:
The Proxy URLs differ between Log Analytics and Application Insights. The two take the following forms:
The cross-cluster query for the table named “pageViews” in an Application Insights instance named “WhitePagesLogs” in a Resource group named “MyResourceGroup” in the subscription “71a90792-474e-5e49-ab4e-da54baa26d5d” is therefore”
It is worth explicitly noting that the resource name appears twice in the query – once in the cluster address, and as the database name.
When ready, the Get data dialog box should appear as follows:
If you want to use Direct Query, don’t forget to open the Advanced Options section, and select it here.
At this point, the report can be built, and it will behave as if it was a normal ADX cluster. You can of course build more complex queries, etc, but you cannot build things like functions, or materialized vies, since you do not have administrative access to the engine behind Azure Monitor.
Compared to using the Power BI ADX connector directly, this approach has the advantage of being explicitly supported, and it also works with bot Application Insights, and Log Analytics. On the downside, there is a cost to running your own ADX cluster, although it is minimal. This cluster is simply acting as a gateway in this case, and therefore, a bare minimum of resources will suffice.