On June 1st, the licensing model of Power BI was given something of a radical overhaul, intending to provide a clearer distinction between the Free and Pro (i.e. paid) options. At the same time, an add-on to the Pro model was announced, extending the existing capabilities and providing additional deployment options.
To provide some additional clarity around the changes, a summary of each option is discussed below with some of the key highlights.
Power BI Free
Intended Use: Personal BI
The free license has been enhanced to provide almost all the features of the paid service, with the key differentiator that it does not allow for sharing or collaboration. The means that not only does each user now have 10GB of storage to play with, but report data sources can be both on-premises and cloud-based, and datasets can be refreshed multiple times per day or have ‘live’ connections.
On the flip side, except for the unsecured Publish to Web option, a Free user can no longer share reports or dashboards, nor can they access items other people have shared.
Power BI Pro
Intended Use: Small-Scale Corporate BI, Content Authoring
A Pro license required for sharing and collaboration, which includes:
- Deploying organisational Apps (the recommended approach for publishing reports and dashboards to a large audience)
- Membership of App Workspaces (for collaborating on report creation)
- Securely viewing Power BI reports within SharePoint Online
- Providing or accessing individually shared dashboards
There are also a small number of advanced features that are available for Pro users, such as Analyse in Excel, Email Subscriptions and Row-Level Security.
Power BI Premium
Intended Use: Large-Scale Corporate BI
Power BI Premium is an addition to the Pro licensing model and provides dedicated hardware for Power BI content. As usage and load increases and performance starts to reduce, additional capacity can be purchased.
A Free or Pro license determines how the individual user is licensed and a Premium subscription determines where the reports are processed.
Having dedicated hardware not only ensures optimal performance, it also allows certain restrictions to be lifted. For example, dataset refreshes are increased from 8 per day to 48 and storage is increased to 100TB.
A second benefit is that Pro licenses are not required for read access to content deployed to dedicated hardware (ie. Power BI Pro licences are still required for creating the content). For example, users in an organisation could view a report embedded in SharePoint Online or deploy an App with pre-packaged reports and dashboards, even though they do not have Pro licenses.
Finally, a Premium subscription also provides a license to deploy an on-premises Power BI Report Server, offering the same core functionality as SQL Server Reporting Services but extended to generate Power BI Desktop reports.
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