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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Releases Power BI Embedded Preview

Microsoft Releases Power BI Embedded Preview

Recently at the 2016 Build Event in San Francisco, Microsoft announced a change to their Power BI offering.  The update comes in the form of giving customers and ISVs the ability to embed Power BI reports within their own applications. Microsoft is calling this service Power BI Embedded and it is currently in preview.

Power BI is a SaaS delivered BI service.  It originally launched July 24th, 2015. James Phillips, corporate vice president at Microsoft, recently announced at Microsoft’s Data Insight Summit that they have on-boarded more than 200 000 companies to the service and have over 5 million subscribers.

One of the challenges that some customers and ISVs have with the existing service is its dependency on the Power BI portal to view dashboards and reports.  Up until now, there was no ability to embed Power BI visuals directly into your own application.  This was a frequently requested feature by customers as it received more than 2300 votes on the Power BI idea forum.

Up until this point, consumers of an organization’s Power BI reports and dashboards require a Power BI account in order to view the visualizations.  This became a blocker for organizations who would like to share information directly with customers, without provisioning a Power BI account. 

In addition to addressing user access to the service, Nick Caldwell, general manager for Power BI at Microsoft, describes some other benefits of the new embedded service: “By using the Power BI service, ISVs won’t need to invest in the expense of developing and maintaining their own visualization and BI controls. They are guaranteed that their visualizations will work across all devices, and that they can leverage all of the value and innovation that is constantly being added to the Power BI service.”

Mostafa Elzoghbi, senior technical evangelist at Microsoft, in a recent video, described some of the steps an organization will take in order to use these new capabilities:

  • Organizations need to have an Azure subscription
  • Provision Power BI Workspace Collection within the Azure portal
  • Create a workspace within your Power BI Workspace Collection
  • Import a .pbix report file into your workspace
  • Embed a report, with one html tag, into your application

The result of performing these steps is a fully functional Power BI report running in your application. Elzoghbi used the example of embedding a Power BI report in an ASP.NET MVC application as illustrated in the following image.  In his example, he is able to include nuget packages into his application, programmatically access the Power BI service through an API and subsequently render the Power BI report within an IView in his application.  Filters that were defined during the development of the report are also visible and can be used in this application as well. 

Image Source: (Screenshot)

Since users do not require credentials to access the Power BI service, the licensing for Power BI Embedded differs from traditional Power BI licensing.  In the Power BI Embedded service, organizations publishing their Power BI Reports will pay based on visual element renders. The Power BI Embedded service is currently in preview and is available at no cost until May 1st, 2016.  Beyond May 1, customers will receive 1000 free renders per month.  Each subsequent 1000 renders will cost $2.50.  Additional information on licensing may be found on the Azure pricing page.

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