• Jesse Arora

POWER BI Licensing


There are handful of ways an organization can deploy POWER BI and it may become overwhelming in the beginning, reading below may help.


Power BI Desktop:

Power BI Desktop is free just like most Microsoft developer tools as it is meant for authors to develop reports. You can publish the reports into your personal work-space, but you cannot enable auto data refresh or direct query any enterprise data sources on Power BI Service.


Power BI Pro:


Did you know Power BI Pro comes free for every user with O365 E5 License?


Any user who will be consuming reports/dashboards with auto data refreshed or direct queried from your enterprise data sources will require a pro license.

Each pro license comes with 10 GB storage plus compute needed to render the reports/dashboards, for example, if you buy 50 Pro licenses you will be able to import 50 * 10 i.e. 500 GB of data total into your tenant. Although total storage in this case is 500 GB but each workspace is limited to only 10 GB so that means largest dataset you can import is 10 GB, but it is 10 GB compressed so which would be 100 GB uncompressed approximately.

Also, you can only do with 8 refreshes per day for each model/data-set if not using live connection.


If you are small organization and each of your data models can be compressed to 10 GB, you really do not need to purchase Azure Analysis Services or Power BI Premium. If you are mid-size organization then it is best to buy Pro License for each consumer along with Azure Analysis Services instance for larger models use live connection from Power BI.

Each Power BI license is 9.99 per month but If you are using other Microsoft products and have Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft, then you may get discounted price of 7.99 per user.


Power BI Premium: For big organization having large number of users let’s say 1000 it will not be cost effective 1000 * 10 * 12 = 120 K per year to license each user separately, in that case it will be best to purchase Power BI Premium which capacity-based licensing with unlimited users.

You may also not need to purchase Azure Analysis Services as you can deploy large models to Power BI premium depending upon capacity purchased. Also, Power BI Premium lets refresh data-sets/ models as frequent as you like not just 8 times per day per data set.


POWER BI Report Server: Power BI Report server is just like Power BI Premium but meant for on premise deployment where you will have to manage it yourself, Power BI Report server lets you publish paginated reports(SSRS) and Power BI Visual Reports into one place without data leaving walls of your organization.


Power BI Embedded: Power BI Embedded is for Independent Software Vendors who would like to use Power BI visuals into their applications, each application user does need to have Power BI license or even be power BI User.

You will need minimum of 1 Power BI Pro license to publish and authenticate access, along with 1 Pro License you will need to purchase dedicated capacity to render reports. You can even implement row level security using embed tokens.

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