Pricing options for Microsoft Power BI

By Paul Smullen on August 11, 2018
Microsoft Power BI is fast becoming a market leader in data visualisation for businesses of all sizes.  They have achieved this by providing their solution in a number of licencing models to suit all budgets and needs.  This means that you can invest in the use pf Power BI without a huge initial outlay and without fear that you may out-grow the software.
 
Below is a brief breakdown of licensing options available from Microsoft.
 
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Free is best

If you are looking to work locally on your own computer accessing your own data in databases, cloud services and spreadsheets etc., then the Power BI Desktop is your best option.  This is a free download and you can have unlimited use of it for your personal use.  The limitation is that you cannot share your reports with colleagues but you can always copy an image to a PowerPoint or Word document.  Obviously standard processes such as data protection, security and backups need to be considered when you are working with data locally.
 

Power BI Pro

This is the most common license model for a small to medium sized user group.  This costs $9.99 or £7.50 per user per month at time of writing - or the equivalent in your local currency.  The model here is that once you have your reports created on Power BI desktop, you can then publish them to the Microsoft cloud and grant access to to your colleagues or clients (at app.powerbi.com).  Those you share with should also have a Pro license.  There is a 30 day trial permitted and indeed you can request to extend this by a further 30 days.  Using the trial license can be useful to assess who actually uses the reports once the initial excitement fades.  BI reports are interesting to most employees but only a critical tool for a smaller group.  You should consider the target audience as part of the decision making process on license purchasing. Power BI provides detailed usage statistics so you can see who has logged in the past month. 
 

Power BI Premium

For larger organisations or extended user groups, you can purchase dedicated resources.  This starts at $4,995 per month and so only makes sense for organisations that have a user base of 500 and above. You still need a Pro license for Authors.  So if you have for example 50 Authors and 500 recipients, then the cost would be $4,495 per month.  But if you had 50 authors and 1000 recipients the cost would be the same.  Another bonus to dedicated resources is that the daily refresh limit of 8 times per day is removed and is unlimited.  However, with Premium you need to assess the workload and choose the tier that works for your usage.  $4,995 per month per node.  If your 500 users are low activity type of people with occasional logins and queries, a single node is fine.  But if they are all heavy users querying very regularly you may need a an extra node.  Microsoft do discount as you add nodes.  For example if you buy three nodes it is £3,766 per month per node.  At these costs it would be a worthwhile exercise to cost an internal deployment of a BI solution but in reality you will find for a large organisation you still wont beat the cloud prices when all true costs are considered.
 

Power BI Embedded

If you have an application you can embed Power BI dashboards within the application.  This of course is more advanced and requires software developers.  But it is a great way to bring the great feature rich visualisation to your application without having to develop them yourself.  Prices start from as little as £549 per month but you need to carefully assess the level of expected usage as the cost can go up as height as £17,500 per month!  Usage is all about compute time and Microsoft give guidance on the number of Page renders per hour.  A Page render is when a user opens or interacts with a report that causes a refresh of the visuals to occur.  The number of renders per hour supported range from 300 to 9,600.  From a code perspective, a REST API is provided which should mean this can be used on any platform.
 
We hope this information is useful and we are happy to answer any questions on the details above any time.
 
 

Topics: business intelligence

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Written by Paul Smullen

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