Microsoft wants to make it easier for enterprises to build a data culture within their organizations with a new Power BI licensing option that simplifies distributing and implementing business analytics among workforces.
Microsoft officially announced general availability of Power BI Premium during the software maker's Data Insights Summit here in Seattle today, a little over a month after the company first unveiled the capacity-based licensing option for the cloud-based business intelligence and analytics platform.
The new offering owes its existence to Power BI's engaged community, said Microsoft corporate vice president James Phillips. During a keynote address this morning, he said "the genesis of Power BI Premium was the community."
After gathering feedback from customers, users and partners, Microsoft discovered that there were many customers that didn't want to be forced into picking and choosing who had access to business insights, Phillips said. In many respects, Power BI Premium furthers the company's aims to democratize business intelligence, by removing some of the barriers that can hinder adoption in large organizations.
"So, you get this dedicated capacity in the cloud that allows you to put the analytical content—dashboards, reports, data sets—into that capacity, and once there, anyone can get access to it. They don't have to be a licensed user, per se, or a paid user of Power BI. Anyone can get it, whether inside the company or outside," Phillips said.
For hybrid-cloud implementations, Microsoft is offering customers a new way of storing and managing reports created with the service.
"Power BI Premium includes the on-premises deployment and distribution of interactive Power BI reports and traditional paginated reports with Power BI Report Server," wrote Kamal Hathi, general manager of Microsoft Power BI, in a June 12 announcement. "Power BI Premium enables the same number of virtual cores an organization provisions in the cloud to also be deployed on-premises without the need to split the capacity. Choose Power BI in the cloud, or maintain reports on-premises with Power BI Report Server and move to the cloud at your pace."
For developers and ISVs (independent software vendors) wishing to add Power BI content into their own apps, Power BI Premium offers an embedding option. The feature, formerly called Power BI Embedded is being absorbed into the underlying platform for the sake of consistency, the company announced last month.
Microsoft plans to continue supporting apps built using Power BI Embedded. However, developers who use the new embedded option in Power BI Premium now have a single application programming interface (API) that streamlines the process of building apps that employ many of the service's features.
There's also a financial benefit, according to Microsoft executives. Priced at $625 per month to start, it provides application developers with a way of including analytics in their products with predictable costs.
In addition to Power BI Premium, Microsoft today announced several new updates to the Power BI Desktop client used to author reports, including new data bars that spruce up numerical data. The Power BI mobile apps are gaining new Q&A capabilities that allows users to explore insights using a conversational experience that mimics a mobile chat session.