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Archive for May 5th, 2017

On-Premises Power BI VOL. 2

Posted by denglishbi on May 5, 2017

Here we go again, round 2 (or should I say Vol. 2). I am back to discuss how I feel (and I am sure quite a few others do as well) about the new information we received this week on Microsoft Power BI on-premises. You can check out my first blog post regarding this here – On-Premises Power BI–A Microsoft Story.

All of the opinions and information that I state in this post here is simply my personal experiences as well as a few thoughts that I just wanted to post. Oh and by the way, I am not a graphic artist by any means, so please don’t slam me for my mocked up image below. I love movies, so just wanted to put this quick little graphic together, I hope you like it.

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What we have learned this week is that Microsoft will provide customers two options to get the on-premises Power BI functionality that will be part of what has now been called Power BI Report Server (this is actually a superset of Report Server – so includes all Report Server functionality plus Power BI). Option 1 is for organizations to go with the new Power BI Premium option. So basically along with the Power BI Service cloud functionality, Microsoft is providing customers the on-premises Power BI Report Server which will include a SQL Server Technology License that you can use to install Power BI Report Server, database engine, and Analysis Services (SSAS) on a single server. The SSAS will provide users the ability to create the data models for the live SSAS connections that Power BI on-premises will initially support. Basically this option will cost an organization roughly $5k/month at minimum based on the calculator (so we are talking at least $60k/year).

Option 2 then is for customers that purchase SQL Server Enterprise Edition (EE) along with Software Assurance (SA). If you have this then you will be entitled to Power BI Report Server, but there is a catch, read all of the fine print in the post (particularly the bold text).

Power BI Report Server is an on-premises server that enables Power BI Pro users to publish Power BI reports and distribute them broadly across the enterprise, without requiring report consumers to be licensed individually per user.

So what this means is that even though you just invested $XXX,XXX six figures or possibly more for your SQL Server EE + SA you will also need to pay a $10/month subscription fee for each Power BI Desktop report author that wants to publish reports to the Power BI Report Server. But wait, there is more! If consumers of the report want to export reports to say PowerPoint or Excel (and come on, how many users don’t want to export reports…), they will also need Power BI Pro licenses.  Granted the text might not call that out specifically, but that is what is also meant by “distribute”.  What most users will see is just the following in the post:

without requiring report consumers to be licensed individually per user

So that statement is not necessarily true from what I have been told, if a user wants to export a report, that will cost each user $10/month subscription because they will require a Power BI Pro license.

Now I don’t believe technically Microsoft will be able to enforce and track the Power BI Pro license for on-premises to enable / disable features such as publishing and export, but if you were ever audited then that could come back to bite you if you didn’t purchase them and are using this functionality.

How do I feel about this…. I am not happy by any means. I don’t understand this at all to try and nickel and dime customers of SQL EE + SA that want to leverage the Power BI on-premises. First Power BI wasn’t made available to SQL 2016 customers and has been pushed (or at least we thought) into SQL 2017 (formerly known as vNext). Now we are finding out that the Technical Previews of Reporting Services we have been using with Power BI functionality is not going to be made available to SQL 2017 customers unless you purchase EE + SA. But even if you do purchase that you also have to buy Power BI Pro subscriptions!!!

Hmmm…. I am trying to draw a comparison here of how I see this being played out.

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Do you see where I am going with this? Can you draw any similarities here? T-Mobile vs Sprint?

So for my company we already have on-premises Power BI and we have been using this now for almost a year. This is because we own BI Office (Pyramid Analytics). For BI Office on-premises Power BI is provided and supported and there are no hidden fees, taxes, charges, costs, etc. associated with the product to get this functionality. All we need to do is pay our yearly maintenance agreement (and that is like 60% less than what we would need to pay for Power BI Premium). And in addition to Power BI on-premises we also get all of the BI Office features like dashboards, R integration, and much more! I can actually incorporate BI Office reports, SSRS reports, Power BI reports, and more all on a single dashboard page and they can all interact with each other!!! How cool is that? Kind of reminds me of PerformancePoint, but this actually works and is much easier to configure!

I am truly disappointed in the decision that has been made here for Microsoft customers. We have been working on our new BI roadmap for the Power BI the past two years, had a delay in the Power BI on-premises release, and now we need to possibly payout even more money. That is confusing and frustrating for customers (and champions / advocates of Microsoft BI like myself) and is definitely going to bite Microsoft. Enough with the games Microsoft, have we not been patient enough? I am sorry to say that now we are most likely not going down this path and I am extremely upset about this because I have been wanting and pushing for this capability. So for us we are going back to the BI roadmap and looking at Plan B and focusing our attention on the un-carrier.

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