BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Jun 15, 2017

Introducing Power BI Premium: Is it Right for your Business?

Greg Foley Posted by Greg Foley

Power BI is an immensely powerful Business Intelligence ecosystem that enables users to quickly connect to, analyze, and visualize a wide range of data. As businesses realize the value of Power BI’s capabilities and increasingly adopt and rely upon its services, they may begin to think about how they can upgrade their capability or improve functionality in Power BI.

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Microsoft recently announced the introduction of the Power BI Premium service, a capacity-based offering that gives organizations greater flexibility to allow users to access, collaborate upon, and distribute content. Let’s take a look at the features of this new offering and the instances in which it could be an appropriate upgrade for your business.

If your firm is considering Power BI Premium, there is a good chance that there are some users in your organization already making use of Power BI Pro. The biggest difference between the two offerings is that Power BI Pro utilizes user-based licensing, while Power BI Premium uses capacity-based licensing. Simply stated, when you sign up for Power BI Pro, you pay per user, per month (currently retails at $9.99), while with Power BI Premium, you pay for a dedicated capacity for the month. This enables your business to publish reports broadly across an enterprise without having to worry about if individual recipients are licensed Power BI users.

Let’s review some of the features currently available in Power BI Pro:

  • All of the features present in the free version of Power BI, including connecting to and preparing data, creating reports, and publishing to the Power BI service
  • Collaboration via app workspaces and distribution of reports via peer-to-peer sharing and Power BI apps
  • Usage metrics and governance of how data is accessed and consumed
  • Analyze in Excel
  • Row-Level Security

And now, Power BI Premium features allow businesses to:

  • Share reports across an enterprise without requiring recipients to be individually licensed
  • Scale performance: dedicated hardware and capacity, maintained by Microsoft, for your organization to allocate, scale, and control according to your business needs
  • Less restriction on workspace sizes (Currently up to 100 TB for your workspace, depending on Premium capacity purchased)
  • Less restriction on refresh rates (Currently up to 48x refreshes per day)
  • Ability to maintain Power BI reports on-premises with Power BI Report Server
  • Support for Power BI embedded solutions with APIs for custom development (Separate SKUs are also available for embedded-only scenarios)

Additionally, you should be aware of some of the limitations of the service:

  • Typically, Premium will only be cost effective for organizations with large deployments or a large number of read-only users
  • Power BI Premium requires a Power BI Pro subscription for authors
  • Power BI consumers (readers) can’t share in Power BI Premium. Sharing (even in Premium) requires a Pro license

When upgrading to Power BI Premium, your business can improve the functionality of Power BI to closer match its needs. Here is an example in which Power BI Premium may be an appropriate solution:

Let’s imagine you are part of an organization of 10,000 people. 500 of your users will require authoring and collaboration, while another 5,000 users will consume BI content multiple times a week, and your remaining 4,500 users will only consume content occasionally. In this scenario, the 500 self-service BI authors could use Power BI Pro to collaborate and create reports, while Power BI Premium can be used to distribute this content to the other 9,500 individuals in your organization who only need to consume this information. The total cost of this solution is $29,970 per month. When comparing this to the cost of paying for 5,500 individual Pro licenses  at $54,945 per month, or even 10,000 Pro licenses at $99,900 per month, you can see the cost savings associated with the Premium service.

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Conversely, if you are part of a small organization of 300 people with a combination of 50 users who require authoring and collaboration, 125 users who consume BI content multiple times a week, and an additional 125 users who consume content occasionally, the total cost of a Power BI Premium solution would be $5,495 per month. Comparing this to the cost of paying for 175 individual Pro licenses at $1,748 per month or 300 Pro licenses at $2,997 per month, it might not make sense for your organization to invest in Premium. To see how either of these scenarios apply to your business, you can experiment with the Power BI Premium calculator to forecast various costs and performance prices.

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Lastly, let’s look at some features that were not available in Power BI Premium at launch, but are on the road map for future releases:

  • Support for larger datasets
  • Incremental refreshes so that only the newest data is loaded into Power BI
  • Pin datasets to memory, increasing responsiveness and load times for select reports
  • Dedicated data refresh nodes to improve performance
  • Read-only replicas to handle larger query loads
  • Geographic distribution for optimal performance

Power BI Premium provides dedicated resources for running Power BI offerings at your organization, giving you dependable performance and larger data volumes. With capacity-based licensing, Premium enables the widespread distribution of content without requiring your organization to purchase per-user licenses for anyone who consumes BI content. If you have further questions about Power BI offerings and what they can do for your business, contact BlueGranite.

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Greg Foley

About The Author

Greg Foley

Greg Foley is a Staff Consultant at BlueGranite. He joined the team in 2016 and has been involved with dashboard and report development in Power BI and SSRS. Prior to joining BlueGranite he was an active duty Army officer for 8 years. Greg is a West Point graduate and an Executive MBA candidate at Washington University in St. Louis.