Microsoft Power BI Premium Adds More Licensing Flexibility

The new licensing option will allow enterprise customers to align costs with how Power BI is being used by their workforces.

data analytics

Microsoft today unveiled a new licensing option for Power BI, the company's cloud-enabled business intelligence (BI) and analytics service, that offers organizations more user licensing flexibility along with performance-tuning options.

A new service tier for large-scale deployments, called Power BI Premium, will slot above Power BI Pro when the service is switched on later this quarter. Unlike Power BI Pro, a plan that charges $9.99 per user per month, the new Premium offering takes a capacity-based approach to pricing.  

With Power BI Premium, enterprise customers will be able to better align their costs with actual usage, said Kamal Hathi, general manager of Microsoft Power BI, in a May 3 announcement.

Hathi noted that at many organizations, not all Power BI users are creating reports but many are nonetheless required to view and interact with reports published on the platform. The new licensing option enables organizations to widely distribute content produced by Power BI Pro users without requiring that recipients be covered by a per-user license, he explained.

Power BI Premium will also allow businesses to better match the service's performance to their workload requirements.

"Organizations using Power BI Premium will be able to customize performance based on the needs of their team, department or the organization itself," stated Hathi. "The offering consists of capacity in the Power BI service exclusively allocated to each organization and supported by dedicated hardware fully managed by Microsoft. Organizations can choose to apply their dedicated capacity broadly, or allocate it to assigned workspaces based on the number of users, workload needs or other factors—and scale up or down as requirements change."

Customers can estimate their costs by using Microsoft's online capacity-planning calculator. In an example tally involving an organization with 5,000 total users, 80 percent of which are classified as frequent or occasional users, the company estimates that it will cost nearly $15,000 a month for Power BI Premium. The remaining 20 percent, or 1,000 power users, will require Power BI Pro licenses at a cost of $9,990 per month, for a total bill of $24,975 per month.

In a hybrid-cloud move, Power BI Premium customers also gain the ability to keep reports within the confines of their corporate networks with the new on-premises Power BI Report Server. The solution mirrors the same virtual core setup as its cloud-based counterpart, enabling businesses to transition their reports to the cloud when they're ready.

Power BI Premium's arrival also affects Power BI Embedded, which enables developers to add the service's visualizations and reporting features to other business applications. Hathi said the technology is being absorbed into the underlying Power BI service for the sake of consistency.

For developers, this means a single "API [application programming] surface" that provides access to the service's newest features as they're made available. Microsoft will continue to support apps built using Power BI Embedded, Hathi assured.

Finally, Microsoft is revamping the free Power BI service for personal use. On June 1, both the free version of Power BI and Power BI Pro will be functionally identical, save for sharing and collaboration features, which will only be available to Pro users.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...