Important Power BI news release

Starting June 1 2017, Microsoft is making some changes to the way Power BI is licensed, there are also some important changes to the Power BI Service. So if you use Power BI, or intend to use Power BI, please be aware of these changes.

Exposé has been at the forefront of the Power BI revolution and we view these changes as even more positive steps towards a cost effective, scalable and maturing BI and Analytics platform. We found that organisations really benefit from some guidance on the administration side of Power BI. If you’d like further advice on these changes or assistance with this transition and how it affects you and your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Here are the changes:

Power BI free tier

Microsoft is now giving all free tier users the following capabilities:

  • ability to connect to all of the data sources that Pro users can connect to
  • a storage quota increase from 1GB to 10GB
  • data refresh maximum from once daily to once hourly
  • streaming data rates from ten thousand rows per hour to one million rows per hour

But in doing this they will be removing the following capabilities:

  • sharing reports and dashboards with other users
  • using group workspaces (now to be called app workspaces)
  • export to PowerPoint, CSV, Excel
  • analyse in Excel

This makes the licensing of the free tier truly for personal use only as all private sharing capabilities are now no longer available within the Power BI free license.

To help ease the transition to the new licensing model, Microsoft is allowing people who have had a license with the Power BI service on or before May 2, 2017 and have at least signed in once between May 2, 2016 and May 2, 2017 to apply for an extended trial of a Power BI Pro license. This license will enable use of all Power BI Pro features until May 31, 2018. If you meet these requirements you will be sent an email from MS and will also have a notification appear when you log in to the service.

If you require an organisational use of Power BI, you will now either need to license all users for Power BI Pro or their new tier, Power BI Premium.

Power BI Premium

Power BI Premium is a new capacity based licensing model coming late in the second quarter of 2017. It allows organisations to acquire only Power BI Pro licenses for report creators and the rest of the organisation to consume these reports and dashboards without having to purchase a Pro license.

The charging model for this is based on a Premium node within the Azure environment that can be scaled according to an organisations performance requirements. Microsoft have provided a calculator service here to help estimate costs.

Power BI Report Server

Coming late in the second quarter of 2017, Microsoft will be offering the capability to publish Power BI reports on-premise using Power BI Report Server.

The on-premises server will allow the deployment and distribution of interactive Power BI reports and traditional paginated reports within the boundaries of an organisation’s firewall.

To enable the use of Power BI Report Server, you will need to either be licensed under Power BI Premium or have a per-core license of SQL Server Enterprise Edition with Software Assurance.

Power BI Apps

Power BI content packs are changing to become known as Power BI apps.

At the moment, there won’t be a large difference between apps and content packs, mostly a change in interface and publishing process. But Microsoft has a roadmap for improvement under the new app model.

They are planning the following enhancements to app workspaces in the coming months:

  • Creating app workspaces will not create corresponding entities in O365 like group workspaces do. So you can create any number of app workspaces without worrying about different O365 groups being created behind the scene (you can still use a O365 group’s OneDrive for business to store your files).
  • Today you can add only individuals to the members and admin lists. In the next iteration you will be able to add multiple AD security groups or modern groups to these lists to allow for easier management.

The impact for now is that Microsoft will rename all group workspaces to app workspaces and you can publish an app from any of these workspaces.

Power BI Embedded

Microsoft has also announced the convergence of the Power BI Embedded service with the Power BI service. This means that there will be one Power BI API that will have feature parity with the current Power Embedded service and so any existing apps built using Embedded today should continue to function but you will be required to prepare for migration over to the new service.

Power BI Service Interface

Finally, and for those who may not have been aware, Microsoft has been trialling a new interface for the Power BI service over the past few months. As of May, this interface will become the default. I’d recommend taking some time to understand what the new interface is like as there are some large changes to what you may be used to in relation to your workflow.

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