What is Power BI?
Microsoft Power BI is a powerful analytical tool businesses use to visualize and analyze their data. It provides users with a platform to get their data from different sources in one place, analyze it, create interactive insights on it, and then share it with anyone they want. This helps managers and executives to make better business decisions.
Power BI has 3 basic elements:
- Power BI Desktop
- Power BI Service
- Power BI Mobile App
We can see that an increasing number of organizations are adopting Power BI now. While using this powerful tool, they face critical questions related to pricing plans and capacity management. So, in this blog we will discuss Power BI pricing levels, their features, and dedicated capacities that will help you identify which solution fits your enterprise BI needs.
Power BI has the following pricing levels
- Power BI Free
- Power BI Pro
- Power BI Embedded
- Power BI Premium (Per user & dedicated)
Power BI Free
With the Power BI Free plan, you can download and use Power BI Desktop and Mobile Apps for free. It allows you to use all the analytical features available on the desktop. You can analyze your data, prepare the data model, and create interactive visuals using this free tool. If you are on a desktop and are using the reports and dashboards for personal use, you can get any size of data in it. It also allows you to create or publish your reports on service in your personal workspace, which cannot be shared with anyone else. But licensing charges start as soon as you start sharing from service.
Power BI Free Plan provides a solution to this by providing a feature to publish on the web. This is the only free method for sharing reports. All other methods need licensing. By publishing your reports or dashboards to the web, you are making them public, and anyone can access them whether you share its link or not. But if your data is sensitive and needs to be protected then this is not the right choice for you because publishing your reports to the web is not secure.
Microsoft 365 subscription is not required for Power BI Desktop. It can be downloaded for free.
So, Power BI Free allows you to analyze and model data, create reports, publish them on service and share them with others through the web, but you will have to compromise on security.
Power BI Pro
Power BI Pro is the next step after the free plan. It provides all the available capacities in the Free Plan, along with some extra features and sharing methods. It is a per-user subscription for Power BI meaning that every user who requires all the Power BI capabilities will need a separate license.
Power BI Pro licenses its users to create the content and to consume the Power BI content shared with them. If the content shared with you is not on the web, then you need to be part of the paid subscription. If your organization has a premium license, then only the publisher needs a Pro license. Everyone else can view the PBI content using the Premium plan.
The maximum data size supported by Power BI Pro is 1 GB which means there is a limit of 1 GB per dataset that can be imported into Power BI. The dataset refresh frequency with Power BI Pro is up to 8 times a day.
It provides the ability to share reports with users who also have Power BI Pro License. It also allows users to create app workspaces and gives them the ability to embed Power BI visuals to other Office 365 apps. Power BI Pro is designed for both small and large businesses. It can also integrate with Microsoft solutions like Teams, O365, and SharePoint etc.
This plan costs $9.99 per user per month. And provides you with a 60-day free trial before purchasing the subscription.
Power BI Embedded
Power BI Embedded is used to embed your content, such as reports, dashboards, etc., in custom or web applications. It allows the external users to see the embedded content without signing to Power BI. It is mainly used by ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) who develop applications for third parties. But for report development, you will still need Power BI Pro Account.
Power BI Embedded requires A SKU.
SKUs are billed per hour. They can be purchased hourly and can be paused too. So, no long-term commitments are required for this capacity. It can be scaled up and down according to the requirements of the business model and is purchased through Microsoft Azure.
|Capacity Node||Virtual Cores||RAM (GB)||Cost|
Power BI Premium (Per User)
Premium Per User (PPU) licenses premium features on a per user basis. It includes all the features of the Power BI Pro license with some other capabilities that were only available in Premium capacity. This includes features like paginated reports, AI (Artificial Intelligence), more frequent refreshments etc. But it is not flexible enough to license by capacity as you can in Power BI Premium. When premium capacity is selected in the capacity of your workspace, it is called “Premium Per User.”
It will have the same 100 TB limit as a premium capacity in terms of storage. The model size limit is 100GB, and the refresh rate for Power BI PPU is 48 times a day just like the premium plan.
PPU has some reporting/sharing constraints, which include that any report created in PPU workspace can only be accessible to users who have the same license. All the users must have a PPU license to view the report. A Pro user cannot view or access that report.
The price of Power BI PPU is fixed to $20 per user/month with a trial period of 60 days like Power BI Pro.
This plan addresses all the needs of the users who want to get access to Premium features but at low cost.
Power BI Premium (Dedicated Capacity)
A new licensing plan, Power BI Dedicated Capacity, was designed to overcome some limitations of Poer BI free and pro account. This plan is designed for companies who want to have a dedicated capacity. Power BI Premium is an additional plan, which means that it might be useful for some companies but not essential for all. It is a suitable choice for a large user base where the size of the data is huge.
It provides you with a storage of 100 TB and the model size limit is up to 400GB. The refresh rate for datasets in Power BI Premium is 48 times per day. It has a built-in license to extend on-prem Power BI with Power BI Report Server. Power BI Premium also provides the capability of incremental refresh which is typically much faster and memory efficient.
Power BI Premium is good for accessing and consuming reports or dashboards but if you want to create content you will still need Power BI Pro Account.
In PBI Premium, you get dedicated resources like nodes, cores, and processing units. The subscription is available in two SKUs.
- P SKUs
- EM SKUs
SKU, known as Stock Keeping Unit is synonymously used for licensing options.
EM SKU (Embedding SKU)
It includes everything that is available in A SKU but also provides the ability to share reports within an organization through content embedding. It allows you to embed your reports and visuals in apps. They are used for testing premium functionalities before you buy a P SKU as it is quite costly.
EM SKUs cannot be paused and are billed monthly. They are only available through a volume-licensing plan and cannot be purchased directly.
|Capacity Node||Virtual Cores||RAM (GB)||Cost|
P SKUs (Premium SKU)
Premium SKU is the ‘ALL IN’ version of Power BI licensed through capacity. It includes everything that is available in A and EM SKU. Only Premium SKU allows users to access and consume Power BI reports, apps, and shared content in the service free of cost. All Premium SKUs are also billed monthly and can be purchased through Office 365 administration.
|Capacity Node||Virtual Cores||RAM (GB)||Cost|
You must select the node of your choice and pay for that node that has dedicated capacity and resources.
Let us assume your organization has 10,000 users. Out of them, 200 are developers and 4900 frequent users and 4900 occasional users.
If you use 6P1 Nodes for it, then premium plan will cost you $31,968.
As we have 200 developers, we will be needing 200 Power BI Pro Accounts
200 * $9.99 = $1998/month
For readers, we have 6P1 nodes
6 * $4995 = $29,970/month
Total = $1998 + $ 29,970 = $31,968
So, we need to use a premium plan for such cases where we have a large user base. Because in such cases, if we go for Pro Account, then it will cost us around $99,900(10000 * $9.99/user/month), and that is too expensive.
|Features||Power BI Free||Power BI Pro||Power BI Embedded||Power BI Premium Per User||Power BI Premium (Dedicated Capacity)|
|Licensing Model||Per User||Per User||Per Capacity||Per User||Per Capacity|
|Connect to 100+ data sources||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Model Size Limit||1GB||1GB||Up to 400 GB||100GB||Up to 400 GB|
|Refresh Rate||8 times/day||48 times/day||48 times/day|
|Embedded APIs and Controls||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Advanced AI Capabilities||In Power Query||A2-A6||✓||✓|
|Dataflows (direct query, linked and computed entities and enhanced computed engine)||✓||✓||✓|
|Power BI Goals and Scorecards||✓||✓|
|Multi-Geo Deployment Management||✓|
|Power BI Reports On-premises||✓|
|Cost||Free||$9.99/user/month||Depends on Capacity Nodes||$20/user/month||Depends on Capacity Nodes|
In this blog, we have discussed different pricing plans for Power BI, the features available in each plan and the situations in which they are cost-effective. We have also discussed Power BI Desktop, which is free for all. For development purposes, you will always need Power BI Pro Account. For embedding content into web apps, Power BI Embedded is the right option. But if you want this service 24/7, you will need EM SKU in Power BI Premium. Power BI Premium P SKU can provide all the capabilities available in other licensing plans except for content creation. For content creation, you need a Pro Account. So, this will help you in choosing the best fit for your organization depending upon your requirements, providing you in an optimal manner.