Running Power BI Locally with the Power BI Report Server

Power BI Now Available on your Local Server

Power BI: Now available without being on the cloud

Microsoft had an lot of announcements about Power BI this week, so many that it was easy to miss some of the finer details, including those which are going to be important in making decisions going forward.  Since the announcements are changes which will be effective soon, in the case of the free tier of Power BI on June 1, and released “… generally available late in the second quarter of 2017” this will give Power BI users time to adjust to the changes. In a nutshell, Microsoft has announced they are adding a cloud service called Power BI Premium which will allow people to create capacity instead of per-user licenses, the free edition will no longer to be able to share files, Power BI Embedded is going to be migrated to the Power BI Service from Azure, and finally, at long last, it will be possible to run Power BI reports locally and without needing anything in the cloud.

Running Power BI without a Cloud

It is not possible to run Power BI reports locally right now, but sometime before the 1st of July 2017,  users who have SQL Server 2016 Enterprise Edition per-core and active Software Assurance [SA] can deploy Power BI Report Server.  This means that no one is going to have to wait for SQL Server 2017 for Power BI on premise as it will be available sometime in June.  The functionality in SQL Server 2017 SQL Server Reporting Server [SSRS]. Community Technology Preview edition is going to be available in Power BI Report Server, with the addition of the ability to include custom visuals and many data sources, which the CTP version did not do. The Power BI Server includes all of the functionality of SSRS This means that users will not need an SSRS Server and a Power BI Server, as the Power BI Server will be able to do both.  If you want to migrate all of the reports created in SSRS from 2008 R2, and SSRS Mobile Reports, you can migrate these reports to the new Power BI Report Server. You can use Power BI Reporting Server for reports created on earlier versions, as long as you have a version of SQL Server 2016 Enterprise per-core edition with SA. The Power BI Report Server will be a separate install with separate release schedules, which currently are planned about once a quarter. Power BI Report Server will also be able to publish reports to mobile devices as well. If the reports uses data in the cloud, you can employ a Data Gateway as the Power BI Reporting Server can use the gateway to access cloud data. Of course if all of the data in the report is located on-premises, no gateway will be required.

Power BI Pro Licenses for On-Premise Reporting

While there is going to be no additional cost for running reports locally, or looking at them, creating and sharing reports for the Power BI Report will require a Power BI Pro License.  The Power BI Desktop is going to be free, and there is still going to be a free version of Power BI. There will also be a  new desktop version of Power BI for Reporting Services which will be on the same version as the Server, which will have fewer updates. This means if you support Power BI Service Reports and Power BI Report Server Reports you will have two versions of the Desktop, the Reporting Services Power BI Desktop and the Power BI Service Desktop.  Both are designed to run on the same machine. So far I have not had any problems having both other than remembering which is which as the icons are the same.  You have to load the software to see that the top line has (Report Server).

Starting June 1, free Power BI license holders will no longer be able to share reports.  Reports created with a free license can be viewed only by the person with the free account.

Power BI Desktop does not have Dashboards, and neither will Power BI

When it is released, Power BI Report Server will be displaying reports created from the Power BI Desktop.  Dashboards are not created in the Power BI Desktop application, meaning that there will be no Power BI Dashboards in the Power BI Report Server.  While this may change in a later release, it is not available in the first release, which also does not support R or custom visuals either.  To display and distribute dashboards, use the Power BI service.

I am sure there will be more announcements about this and other upcoming Power BI features. Many will most likely be announced at Microsoft’s Data Summit Conference in June, which I will fortunately have the opportunity to attend.  If you are going to be there as well, drop me a line or ping me on twitter at @desertislesql and perhaps we can meet in person.
 ***Update I have a post which covers the released version of Power BI Report Server.  Click here to find what was changed since this post was written.
Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur



6 comments on “Running Power BI Locally with the Power BI Report Server

  1. Matthew Deuschle

    Hi Ginger, thank you for this timely and very informative article!

    You mentioned “Dashboards are not created in the Power BI Desktop application, meaning that there will be no Power BI Dashboards in the Power BI Report Server.”

    So obviously, Dashboards are a key part of on-premise enterprise reporting. Do I understand that with the on-premise ability, dashboards are not possible? If that is true, then what would we be delivering to executives – is it simply static reports? I am not clear on this.

    Regarding pricing, do I understand that any users of the downstream reports will need a license to view them? i.e. if I create an on-premise report and then share it via Power Bi Server, any users who consume the report need a license?



    1. Ginger Grant

      Matt —
      Regarding Dashboards and Power BI on-premise, you are correct. When it is released there will be no dashboard functionality. What will be distributed are the reports which are created within Power BI. They are not static reports, they will be interactive visualizations, but the ability to take parts of a report and make a Dashboard from parts of reports will not be supported. There will not be a need for anyone who views the reports locally to have a Power BI license, but anyone creating reports will need a Power BI Pro License.

      For reports shared via the Power BI Service, Power BI on-premise functionality and licensing does not apply. Microsoft is changing the licensing for the free version of Power BI, so to share reports a Pro license will be required. If any Pro features are used to create a report, such as automatic updates, anyone consuming the report on the service will need to have a Pro license. I have not read about any changes to the free version which would prevent them from consuming reports created by a Pro user, but I am going to ask for clarification to be sure. I will let you know what I find.



  2. thesmilingdba

    Not having the Dashboard capability in Power BI Report Server (on-premise) really prevents some from using it. I hope this is added. But, having this on-premise with Enterprise and SA is great for those on SQL Server 2016. That is great!!!

  3. Pingback: Power BI On-Prem Details – Curated SQL

  4. Simon Heijnen

    Great post! Tnx a lot. Since we’re waiting for longtime for on-premise rendering, we decide to deploy our analytics results in Sharepoint. Is there any news about the integration in Sharepoint? Is it still the simple iFrame or is there a new webpart available?

    1. Ginger Grant

      Simon —

      There have been no changes announced regarding SharePoint and Power BI integration. As Power BI Reporting Services is where most of the development for Power BI features is being concentrated, I see a movement away from SharePoint and towards Power BI Report Server going forward. Perhaps when it is a more mature product, you will want to re-evaluate if you want to stay with SharePoint for Power BI in the future.


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