What is Power BI Premium Per User, and what is it for?

I love Power BI

On the 23rd of September at the Microsoft Ignite conference, Microsoft announced changes to Power BI Premium, and introduced a Power BI Premium Per User license. This sounded a bit strange, as the aim of Power BI Premium was to move from the license per user model to deploy reports across an organisation.

So what is the aim of this Premium Per User and how will it affect users and customers?

With standard Power BI Premium (Which I’ll call Premium Capacity to avoid confusion), you get a dedicated piece of Power BI hardware, starting at 8 Core and 25GB of memory. It also removes the need for Power BI Pro licenses to consume shared reports. Also, with Premium Capacity you had some advantages in the capability and the features compared to Pro.

· Data model size increased from 1GB to 10GB
· Paginated Reports
· Advanced Dataflows allowing Direct Query on those datasets
· Increase from 8 dataset refreshes per day to 48
· AI features such as AutoML and Cognitive Services
· XMLA Endpoints
· Power BI Report Server — On Premise version of Power BI

The main barrier to entry for the uptake of Premium Capacity was the price, which starts at £3700 per month, which is the same price as about 500 Power BI Pro licenses. So, if you had more than 1000 users that needed access to reports, you get Premium Capacity for a lower cost than Pro and have some features that medium to large organisations needed. So Premium Per User is a middle ground between the full Premium Capacity and Power BI Pro and should suit certain organisation sizes and workloads. You don’t get the dedicated hardware of Premium Capacity, but you do get an upper limit on the model sizes. The new Per User license comes with 100GB of Memory, which is the same as a Premium Capacity P3 node, which starts at £15,000 per month. So it is shared capacity like Power BI Pro, but with defined limits.

Premium Per User unlocks some features that the user community have been asking for, for example, higher dataset/dataflow refresh rates and enhanced automatic page refresh. You also get the benefit of advanced data flow features where you have a dataflow which you can direct query and not have to import data from it.

Another thing the Power BI User community has been asking for is paginated reports in the service, so it is nice to see that this is now possible with the Premium Per User, this should help some customers move from two reporting platforms, SQL Server Reporting Services and Power BI, into a single user experience.

So what are the restrictions? Well in terms of sharing reports, it seems that Pro license users can share workspaces to Pro and Premium Per User, but Premium Per User can only share to Premium Per User. However, you can set up a subscription of a Premium Per User report that can be consumed by a Pro user. Both Pro and Premium Per User can’t share to free users, for that you’ll still need Premium Capacity.

Premium Per User will be in private preview in November, and pricing is yet to be announced, but comments by the program manager says it will be a ‘fair’ price. It is nice to see that Microsoft have listened to the user community and that the features of the Premium Per User will help some user workloads and make Power BI more attractive to smaller customers.

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