A Complete Guide to Power BI Pricing & Capacity Management

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Addend Analytics is a Microsoft Gold Partner based in Mumbai, India, and a branch office in the U.S. Addend has successfully implemented 100+ Microsoft Power BI and Business Central projects for 100+ clients across sectors like Financial Services, Banking, Insurance, Retail, Sales, Manufacturing, Real estate, Logistics, and Healthcare in countries like the US, Europe, Switzerland, and Australia. Get a free consultation now by emailing us at kamal.sharma@addendanalytics.com or Contact us

Microsoft Power BI has carved out a niche in the market as a go-to BI solution as business intelligence products get more advanced and detailed. As more companies embrace Power BI, they are confronted with key considerations about capacity management and price. We thought we’d share some tips on how to figure out which solution is best for your company BI needs. This blog will also provide a summary of dedicated capabilities, supported workloads, content sharing, and other features that will aid you in making these choices.

Based on their usage and cost, Power BI offers three types of service: Free, Pro, and Premium. Let’s look at each of these options in turn:

Capacity Management

  1. Power BI Free for content creation: Author reports and prepare, model, and generate data visualisations with the free Power BI Desktop tool.
  2. For content dissemination, use Power BI Pro: Collaborate with co-workers, model data, write content, share dashboards, publish reports, and conduct ad hoc analysis.
  3. Premium version of Power BI for content consumption: With either a per-user Power BI Pro licence or a Power BI Premium licence for large-scale databases, you can read and interact with pre-published dashboards and reports.


Pricing Management

The overall number of users and the number of users per category who interact with Power BI reports or dashboards are the most important factors to consider when determining the cost of Power BI for any company. Users are divided into three groups:

  1. Users who demand collaboration, content permission, data modelling, ad hoc analysis, dashboard sharing, and report publication are considered pro users.
  2. Users who interact with reports or dashboards on a regular basis.
  3. Users who only use the reports and dashboards on a regular basis.

The Power BI pricing calculator can be used to estimate the cost based on these recognised user types. Let’s use an example: say your company has a total of 4,500 people who will have access to Power BI, with 20% of them being pro users, 35% being frequent users, and 45% being occasional users. The entire cost for 4500 users, according to the pricing calculator, will be $23,976 per month. Here’s how you’d go about doing it:


Power BI Premium

Power BI Premium gives your company dedicated and expanded resources to run the Power BI service, with features like:

  1. Scale and performance improvements
  2. Self-service and enterprise BI can be combined thanks to the ability to licence by capacity.
  3. With Power BI Report Server, you can extend your on-premises BI.
  4. Regional support for data residency (Multi-Geo)
  5. Without acquiring a per-user licence, you can share data with everyone.

The Power BI Premium Office 365 subscription comes in two SKU (stock-keeping unit) families:

P SKUs (P1-P3) for enterprise features and embedding. The commitment can be made on a monthly or annual basis, and it includes a licence to install Power BI Report Server on-premises.

Organizational embedding EM SKUs (EM1-EM3) The commitment is for a year and is billed on a monthly basis. Only volume licencing arrangements are available for the EM1 and EM2 SKUs. You won’t be able to buy them directly.

Capacity Nodes

There are two Power BI Premium SKU families: EM and P, as previously stated. ALL SKUs are considered capacity nodes, and the SKU represents storage, memory, and a set number of resources consisting of processor. The amount of DirectQuery and Live Connections per second, as well as the number of parallel model refreshes, are all limited in each SKU.

A defined number of v-cores are used to process data, which are split evenly between the back end and the front end. Back-end v-cores, also known as active datasets, have a defined amount of memory given to them, which is largely used to host models. Core Power BI operations are handled by back end v-cores, which include query processing, cache management, R service execution, model refresh, natural language processing, and server-side generation of reports and graphics.

Web services, dashboard and report document management, access rights management scheduling, APIs, uploads and downloads, and anything else relevant to user experiences are all handled by front-end v-cores. Per capacity node, storage is configured to 100 TB.

Table 2 lists the resources and limits of each Premium SKU (and equivalently sized A SKU):

Workload Configuration in Premium Capacity using Power BI Admin Portal

If the default settings do not satisfy the requirements, you will need to alter RAM and other variables to meet the capacity resource needs. The following are the steps for configuring workloads on the Power BI admin portal:

Select a capacity in Capacity settings > Premium Capacities

  1. Expand Workloads under MORE OPTIONS.
  2. Set a value for Max Memory and other variables and enable one or more workloads.
  3. Select Apply.

AI workloads, datasets, max intermediate row set count, max offline dataset size, max result row set count, query memory limit, query timeout, automatic page refresh (in preview), data flows, container size, and paginated reports are some of the parameters that contribute to workloads in a premium capacity.

Power BI Embedded

Power BI Embedded’s overall cost is determined by the type of node selected and the number of nodes deployed. The number of v-cores and RAM on a node determines its kind. Microsoft’s Power BI Embedded pricing is accessible on a monthly/hourly basis in various locations. Table 3 shows the hourly pricing for the Central United States.


Power BI License FAQs
When will I choose Power BI Pro for deployment?

Power BI Pro is a wonderful way to give all Power BI functionality to all users in small and big deployments. Ad-hoc analysis, dashboard sharing, and report publishing, collaboration, and other relevant activities are all available to employees across roles and departments.

What if all users don’t require the full capabilities of Power BI Pro as many are only occasionally viewing reports?

Power BI Pro is required to publish reports, share dashboards, communicate with colleagues in workspaces, and engage in other related activities, even if you have Power BI Premium. To use a Power BI Premium capacity, you must first attach it to a workspace. The use cases below will help you identify which scenarios require Power BI Pro/Premium or both.

Do you need self-service BI?

Self-service BI is not just a trend anymore, it has become a necessity for efficient sharing of information within an organization. Various professionals can collaborate, publish, share, and perform ad-hoc analysis easily with advanced self-service BI tools.

Can Power BI support big data analytics and on-premises as well as cloud reporting?

Power BI Premium provides enterprise BI, big data analytics, cloud, and on-premises reporting along with advanced administration and deployment controls. It also provides dedicated cloud compute and storage resources that allow any user to consume Power BI content.

It’s critical to identify the proper Power BI service for your enterprise’s business intelligence goals and existing use cases. All customers can use the pricing and features covered by each Power BI option to figure out when and how to choose the best fit for their organisation. You can use a mix of Power BI Pro/Premium features to examine and select a capacity management for project delivery. Every organisation has its own set of requirements and objectives. The appropriate technology partner can help you select the best solution for your business’s needs and then work with you to make the most of it.