Doing Power BI the Right Way: 8. Delivery options

Part of the the series: Doing Power BI the Right Way

When you sign-up for the Power BI service at (this address redirects to, use establish a tenant for your organization, hosted in the Azure cloud. Even if you setup a 90-day trial account, you have a tenant that you can upgrade later on. By default, all of the datasets, reports and other assets you publish to the workspaces in your tenant, are in a shared capacity. This means that Microsoft will manage the storage and resource allocation among shared servers in their data centers. Larger organizations will benefit from a dedicated capacity “Premium” tenant. This means that Microsoft dedicates at least one virtual machine in the Azure data center, with guaranteed capacity, for your tenant. With Premium-per-User (PPU) licensing, you pay per user. Here are all the options in summary:

  1. Publish to shared capacity tenant, share reports with organization users who each have a Power BI Pro license.
  2. Publish to a dedicated capacity tenant, share with organization users who each have a Power BI Premium-per-User license.
  3. Publish to a Premium dedicated capacity tenant, share with users in the organization who do not require individual licenses to view reports.
  4. Publish to shared capacity and share un-securely for any Internet user, using “Publish to Web” – for free.
  5. Publish reports to your tenant and then share visual content through a custom web application using the Power BI Embedded service.
  6. Publish reports to on-premises Power BI Report Server. Some feature limitations apply. Requires Power BI Premium license or SQL Server Enterprise w/SA + 1 Pro license.

With Premium licensing, any user in the organization can view reports that are published as an app. Since you are buying a fixed amount of capacity (e.g. CPU cores, memory and storage), you can have as many users as you like. If you need more capacity to handle more users and/or more reports & datasets, you can upgrade to a higher capacity.

The Power BI Embedded service utilizes Premium shared capacity and allows you embed report content (a dashboard, a report page, or individual visuals) into a custom web application that you develop, using API code. Through the Embedded service, you can share Power BI report content with any users of your application, inside or outside of your organization.

Finally, Power BI Report Server is an on-premises hosting environment based on SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) that you can install on your in-house hardware or virtual machines. There are several technical restrictions and feature caveats, but this does give you the ability to host Power BI reports alongside Paginated reports, in your own environment. Before you decide that this is the right option for your organization, it is important to understand that there are a number of technical and feature restrictions with this option, so do your homework and understand these trade-offs.

Costs and Capabilities

The following guide may help simplify the options. For comparison, these are current and approximate retail prices from Microsoft, which are subject to change. Some customers also receive discounted pricing or reduced prices for bundled services. For example, discounts are offered to organizations that are not-for-profit or education.

Bottom Line

  • Some advanced and most attractive features are only available with Premium capacity and Premium-per-User licensing. This is the most complete and convenient option to deliver end-to-end Power BI solutions to users for an enterprise customer – at a cost of about $5,000/month or $20/user/month.
    Premium-only features include datasets over 1GB, auto-scaling and Paginated Reports.
  • For organization with less than a few hundred users, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a Pro license for every user at a retail cost of about $10/user/month.
  • The Power BI Embedded service allows reports to be exposed securely so they can be integrated into a custom-developed application. This is usually attractive for ISVs who want to integrate reports and visuals into some kind of service offering to their own external customers. This option requires custom development and programming skills.
  • The publish-to-web option allows a single report developer to expose a report to the entire Internet without security restrictions, and this option is free.
  • Organizations who cannot use cloud services for compliance reasons can use Power BI Report Server to host reports on-prem and in-house.
Paul Turley

Paul Turley

Microsoft Data Platform MVP, Principal Consultant for 3Cloud Solutions Specializing in Business Intelligence, SQL Server solutions, Power BI, Analysis Services & Reporting Services.

5 thoughts on “Doing Power BI the Right Way: 8. Delivery options

  1. Hello Paul,

    Can you please ellaborate on the requirements of the receiver of the Power-BI.

    I think about external (outside my organisation) users without a power BI license. Can they still access via a browser?

    Many thanks,Paul

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