Part 2 of this blog series focuses on the future of Power BI On-Premise and what direction Microsoft are heading in. This is a little tricky, as there haven’t been many formal announcements of how both SSRS and Power BI will work together from an architectural and pricing perspective.
I will be using this article as a forum to discuss both On-Premise and Cloud variations of Power BI, potential licensing and whether the new offering is actually just ‘Plugging Power BI reports into SSRS’. The last statement is a little crude but from a business perspective, decision makers need to know what version of Power BI suits their needs. We won’t get all of the answers right now, but it would be nice to shed some light on what appears to be a very dark room.
Cloud vs On-Premise
What does this mean for Power BI as a brand and more importantly, as a reporting tool? The original purpose for Power BI was to offer self-service, ad hoc end user reporting. However, as the product has matured, prospective clients have wanted it to do so much more. “How can we incorporate Active Directory security”? “How do we share Dashboards within a specific workspace and limit permissions to it”? “But our business uses ultra-sensitive data and it MUST stay on a server in the UK…..”. These are the types of comments/questions that get banded around a lot at the moment.
This is why Microsoft are offering both Cloud and On-Premise. We are not yet in a position where definitive pros and cons can be laid out for each option, but this will soon be possible when Microsoft reveal their ultimate strategy. There are still a lot on unanswered questions, especially around licensing. A sensible assumption is that Power BI On-Premise will be covered under the typical Enterprise Edition version of SQL Server. However, will there be an add-on fee for Power BI or will the general license costs go up? What impact will this have on the Cloud costs? There are some complicated pricing models for Office 365 users and the simpler £9.99 a month for a standalone Power BI Pro license. Will the same pricing strategy exist or will On-Premise force Microsoft into a rethink? I tend to stay away from speculation in my blogs and stick to facts, but I genuinely am interested to see how Microsoft market the variations of Power BI.
After looking through various blogs and forums (links provided below), the following features/functionality will soon be available before Power BI On-Premise goes to GA.
- Additional data connectors (besides Analysis Services), cached data, and scheduled data refresh
- Power BI mobile apps (viewing Power BI reports stored in SSRS)
- R Visuals
- Support for integrating previous versions of SQL Server Databases (2008 +) and Analysis Services (2012 SP1 +) with SSRS 2016
- Support for all data connectors currently enabled for Power BI Cloud
Microsoft have also listed some Power BI cloud features that are not planned for the On-Premise version:
- Dashboards – The concept of pinning a report and sharing it on an ad hoc basis
- Q&A (Natural query language)
- Quick Insights
Another pertinent question is “When will Power BI On-Premise actually be available in the real world?”. Microsoft are targeting a production ready release for mid-2017, although nothing is official yet. One thing is certain – it won’t be coming in a Service Pack or Cumulative Update. Another big thing to consider is migrating from SSRS 2016 to SSRS with Power BI Reports, which Microsoft are promising will be easy.
At this stage, it is difficult to give any concrete information on where Power BI On-Premise is heading. All we know is that Power BI and SSRS will be working together a lot more closely and the majority of functionality will be available in both.
The concept of having Power BI reports shared and deployed to physical, on premise servers will accommodate companies worried about moving their data to the cloud. As Power BI continues to increase in popularity, the overall security and infrastructure model will be scrutinized. Cloud storage is often falsely labelled as a security risk, which is where the common corporate misconceptions are born. It will be hard to change this train of thought, which is where the On-Premise Power BI offering will come in handy. Even more appealing is the natural integration with SharePoint and SRRS, enabling companies to use hybrid approaches, as well as not need to migrate old SSRS reports into Power BI. Everything is managed in one location, thus reducing security risks and costs.
Now we all sit tight and wait for Microsoft’s next big announcement. If anyone has more information around Power BI On-Premise, please comment below.
o Power BI Reports in SSRS Release Notes - https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/4c2f20d7-a9f9-47e3-8dc3-c544a14457e0.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396
o October 2016 Technical Preview Blog – https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/sqlrsteamblog/2016/10/25/announcing-a-technical-preview-of-power-bi-reports-in-sql-server-reporting-services/
o December 2016 Feedback Review Blog – https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/sqlrsteamblog/2016/12/16/power-bi-reports-in-sql-server-reporting-services-feedback-on-the-technical-preview/
o January 2017 Technical Preview Blog – https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/sqlrsteamblog/2017/01/17/power-bi-reports-in-sql-server-reporting-services-january-2017-technical-preview-now-available/