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.
Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur