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The ability to visualize a dashboard and develop a simple dataset is a priority for all small and midsize businesses–and the cost-effectiveness of Power BI has made this possible for many SMBs. 

With a multitude of licensing models, businesses can only use what they need, making Power BI less expensive than other analytics tools. Business leaders looking to take their business intelligence practice to the next level often come to us wondering which licensing model is right for their business: What do they need and what is too much? 

In this article, we share simple scenarios to help you determine the right licensing model (and the associated pricing) for your small to midsize business. 

Selecting the right Power BI licensing model  

Power BI offers several licensing models to meet the needs of every business. In this section, we share common licensing scenarios and pricing to help you determine the right licensing model for your business. 

Pricing information is accurate as of June 2022. 

Power BI (Free)

​Power BI offers a free version readily available for anyone to use. While there is no price tag, there are significant limitations. Power BI (free) offers small and midsize businesses the opportunity to utilize the tool in its full capacity–including the ability to create and publish dashboards and datasets–but does not allow for businesses to publish to and collaborate with a wider audience, making it an effective solution for individual use. 

Power BI Pro 

To share the insights, you gain from across your organization with Power BI, at a minimum, you’ll need to invest in a Power BI Pro license ($9.99 per user/month). Licenses are required for any individual within your business who wants to author, publish or even view dashboards and datasets.   

For a small-scale data model (holding up to 1GB of compressed data), a Pro license will generally meet your needs. For instance, if you want to share dashboards with five other users, a Pro license will meet your needs, and cost you $60/month. If your organization has already made the investment into Microsoft 365 E5, the good news is that Power BI Pro is already included. 

Power BI Premium 

If your dataset goes beyond 1GB of data, you may need to consider the next tier of licensing, Power BI Premium. Alternatively, you may want to consider the number of users as the cost of Pro will likely exceed that of Premium as you near 500.        

Per User

When you find yourself with large datasets (>1GB), and you have a small user base, the ideal option would be Premium Per User (PPU) licenses ($20 per user/month). For instance, a 15-member user base would cost $300 monthly, essentially giving you a formula of: if at least one dataset grows beyond 1GB, you are looking at double the current cost. Remember, just like with the Pro license, you would need a PPU even to view a published dashboard. If you have a Microsoft 365 E5 license, PPU would only cost an additional $10 per user/month. 

Certain organizations look at PPU, if Premium per capacity is on their roadmap, and need to evaluate Premium functionality with a smaller price tag. Certain other organizations find specific premium functionality attractive, that drive them towards PPU. Three of these functions are the ability to create paginated, pixel-perfect reports, the kind that you create with SQL Server Reporting Services or Crystal Reports; the ability to refresh datasets every half hour; and painless deployment of Power BI content across environments. 

Per Capacity  

Premium Per Capacity provides a dedicated capacity for your organization for a price tag of $4,995 per month. However, you will also need to consider Pro licenses for each user who publishes content into this capacity. The good news is that you will not need licenses to view content such as a dashboard, since it is covered under the capacity price tag. If you take an example of an organization with 600 users, out of which only 10 users author content, you have a cost of $5,095 ($4,995 + $9.99 x 10) per month. Comparing this to the Pro cost ($6,000 per month) and the PPU cost ($12,000 per month) for the same number of users, you will notice how Per Capacity can play out for you. 


In the unlikely event that you require additional occasional or unplanned capacity, you can add-on more vCores to your capacity. This is priced at $85 per vCore/24-hours and will require you to have an Azure subscription to which it will be billed. 

Power BI embedded analytics

Power BI embedded analytics is when you need to include analytics within applications that you develop. Depending on how you implement it you have two flavors to choose from: Embed for your customers and Embed for your organization. Since it is an Azure service, you pay for what you use, which depends on the capacity you choose, and the time it is utilized. 

Embed for your customers (app owns data) 

If you are building your applications to be distributed to a third party, where users are external to your organization, then this is the option you would choose. Here, the application you build will authenticate its users using your own authentication method, which also applies to the embedded Power BI content.  

To leverage Power BI for this app owns data scenario, you will need to choose Power BI Embedded, which is an Azure offering. Power BI Embedded is charged hourly for what you use depending on the size of the Embedded capacity. 

Embed for your organization (user owns data) 

If you are building an application for your organization, and which to embed Power BI content within it, or embed Power BI content within Microsoft applications such as SharePoint or Teams, then this is the option you would choose. To leverage Power BI for the user owns data scenario, you would turn to Power BI Premium, since readers of the embedded content need not have a Pro or PPU license.  

If the embedded content is a fairly small workload, you could consider a Power BI Premium EM, a lightweight and cheaper SKU, instead of a Power BI Premium P instance (which is the SKU we referred to under Power BI Premium)  

To learn more and compare the two embed solutions refer to these links: 

Power BI Pricing Summary 

Which Power BI licensing scenario is right for your business? Below is a summary of the various licensing and pricing options available. 

Power BI Solution Pricing 
Power BI free 
Power BI Pro $9.99 per user/month 
Power BI Premium per user $20.00 per user/month 
Power BI Premium per capacity $4,995.00 per capacity/month 
Power BI Premium per capacity autoscale add on $85.00 per vCore/24 hours 
Power BI Embedded (embed for your customers)  Pricing – Power BI Embedded | Microsoft Azure 
Power BI Embedded for your organization -Refer to Power BI Premium per capacity (for P SKU) 
-Refer Capacity and SKUs in Power BI embedded analytics – Power BI | Microsoft Docs to compare with Pricing – Power BI Embedded | Microsoft Azure (for EM SKU) 
Our team is here to help 

For businesses interested in ramping up their data analytics efforts, Power BI is often the most cost-effective place to begin for any existing Microsoft user. 

We understand that licensing decisions can be complex. If you still aren’t sure which licensing structure is right for your business, our team is here to help you select the right Power BI licensing model for your business that will grow and scale as you do.  

Contact our team to learn about our data and AI services, and to find out how you can develop a framework that supports your data analytics efforts. . 

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