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Helper III
Helper III

Connecting Desktop to a remote SQL Server

Hi everyone,

I have a situation where I need to be able to develop in Desktop against both an ODBC data source in the cloud as well as a local server. Here is a high level view:

  • Main data source is a cloud based ERP that the vendor provides an ODBC connection to. 
  • The Gateway is installed on a utility server and uses the ODBC to fetch data from the ERP. This all works fine
  • We have a new requirement to capture some point in time data to do some trending so we installed a SQL Express instance on the Gateway server so it can pull through ODBC and store it in a custom DB/table. This also works fine and I'm now collecting the data for our trending reports.
  • I was able to create a simple report with a connection to the local data while logged into the Utility / Gateway server. I published it to the service and was then able to add that data source to the Gateway for refresh purposes. This also works as expected.
  • Now my conundrum. I need to build the new Trending Reports in an existing report file which I work on locally on my own machine which is not connected to the network where the Gateway is located. Up to this point I have an ODBC DSN to the cloud data source so it's never been an issue. So how can I now also access that new on premise SQL Express instance without a VPN connection (I was only recently given RDP access directly to the Gateway server)

I'm thinking that my only options may be to have a VPN connection to the Gateway server where SQL Express sits or open up ports for SQL for remote access but I think the client may not be open to that. My other concern is making sure that however I am connecting locally to develop doesn't cause issue in the Power BI Service once published.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!


Super User
Super User


so we installed a SQL Express instance on the Gateway server 


Highly not recommended. They will fight tooth and nail for the available RAM and compute cycles.  At a minimum you should set a RAM limit for the SQL server.


The solution to your problem are -sadly- dataflows. (Or - gasp- datamarts, if that is your thing)  They allow you to run the ETL in a walled-off environment but still be able to create your reports from whereever.

The SQL Express has one database with one table with only 6 columns and is updated daily with about 3K rows (only takes maybe 2 min). Power BI serice is updating once a night through the gateway at a different time so I'm not overly concerned about the performance.

In the end I was able to get an ODBC connection into the Gateway from my local machine so this will work.


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