Power BI Embedded is not for Embedding Power BI Reports

NOTICE Sept 17 2017 – The central thrust of this post is incorrect. I am leaving it here, because it still contains valid information, but for an update, please go to this article –  Which Premium SKU is Needed to embed Power BI Reports in SharePoint and Microsoft Teams

I have run into this point of confusion several times since the GA of the Power BI Premium SKU. As I mentioned in my post about licensing, the Power BI web part for SharePoint requires the user viewing the report to have a Pro license. Alternatively, if the organization has purchase Power BI premium capacity, and the report has been deployed to that capacity, then all organizational users will be able to view the report in the web part.

The initial announcement about Premium licensing laid out 5 different SKUs for premium, P1, P2 and P3. These SKUs are the “normal” SKUs that are intended to be used by Power BI customers. The “P” stands for Premium. Subsequently, 3 additional SKUs were announced at the Data Insights summit to be used by ISVs. These SKUs are EM1, EM2, and EM3. The “EM” stands for embedded. The embedded in this case means Power BI embedded. That’s where the confusion sets in.

Power BI Embedded is the ISV offering for Power BI. With Power BI embedded, software vendors can use Power BI as the reporting engine in their application. A number of vendors have taken advantage of this capability in the recent past including Nintex with their Hawkeye product, and ourselves with tyGraph for Yammer Reporting. With Power BI embedded, all of the processing for the application is done in the vendor’s Power BI tenant. Customers don’t require a Power BI license of any sort to use the applications. Recently, Power BI embedded has moved to a premium model as well, which is why the EM SKUs exist. They are for purchase by software vendors to power their own applications.

If we have a look at the pricing for each of these SKUs (in $US/month), we can see that the EM SKUs are significantly cheaper, but they also come with the important restriction that they can ONLY be used by ISVs.

Capacity Node Cores Back end cores Front end cores

Cost

P1 8 4 cores, 25 GB RAM 4 cores

$4,995

P2 16 8 cores, 50 GB RAM 8 cores

$9,995

P3 32 16 cores, 100 GB RAM 16 cores

$19,995

EM1 1 0.5 cores, 3 GB RAM 0.5 cores

$625

EM2 2 1 core, 5 GB RAM 1 core

$1,245

EM3 4 2 cores, 10 GB RAM 2 cores

$2,495

It may be natural to think that because your goal is to “embed” a Power BI report in SharePoint, that you will be able to use one of the cheaper, “embedded” SKUs. Microsoft loves to overload terms when they name things, and this is one of those times that this tendency leads to confusion. Make no mistake, in order to embed a Power BI report in a SharePoint page, and to have other users be able to view it, you will need to have a Pro license, and your users will either need Pro licenses as well, OR your organization will need to have purchased a Power BI Premium “P” SKU, not an “EM” SKU.

What License is Needed to Use the Power BI Web Part?

The Power BI web part is now a part of SharePoint online for the majority of Office 365 users. This web part allows Power BI reports to be embedded on SharePoint pages, putting them in greater context. These web parts are rendered on the client, not on the server like old style web parts, which means that they are rendered by the consuming user, not the server. This means that in order for the report to render properly, the user needs to not only have access to the report, but also needs to be licensed for it.

The Power BI web part is a feature that requires a Pro license for both producers and consumers. This actually makes sense given that any sharing features in Power BI require Pro. Also, given that the consuming user must have access to the report, the report will be contained in a Group workspace, and Group workspaces themselves require a Pro license. So, what happens when a non Pro user opens a SharePoint page containing a Power BI web part report?

Quite simply, the content doesn’t show up.

Premium Capacity

However, on June 1, 2017, the premium pricing model for Power BI became available. Premium allows organizations to purchase premium capacity in the service. When reports are deployed to this premium capacity, users can access these reports without a Pro license. The act of publishing the report still requires a Pro license, but viewing it does not. Therefore, the Pro requirement for the web part goes away if the report is deployed to premium capacity.

This is in fact how it works. To date, I have seen no official announcement or post from Microsoft on this topic. The closest thing is a response to a forum post in the Power BI community forums:

“If the if the user that is trying to consume the embedded report does not have a Power BI Pro license but is part of a Power BI Premium instance, same viewer rights apply meaning that the user can view the report but collaboration features such as Analyze from Excel are not available, in line with regular Power BI Premium related features.”

The bottom line is that in most cases, all users, both producers and consumers will need a Power BI Pro license to be able to use the Power BI web part. The only time that this is not the case is when an organization has purchased premium capacity, and the report is deployed to that capacity. In that case, only the producer requires a Pro license. It should also be noted that in this case,  some features (like export data) will still not be available to the free users.

License Requirements for SQL Server Reporting Services in SharePoint Integrated Mode

As I am keen to point out every opportunity I get, when installing SQL Server Reporting Services in SharePoint Integrated mode, it is important to ensure that it is installed on a SharePoint server, and not on a SQL Server. It’s a bit counter-intuitive because the installation files are on the SQL Server media, and not the Sharepoint media. This causes confusion in a number of areas, but one question that I hear a lot is in the realm of licensing.

Technically, using any SQL Server component on any server requires a full SQL Server license for that component for each server. Running SQL Server Analysis Services and SQL Server Database on two different machines requires two different licenses. Seen that way, putting the SSRS Service on a SharePoint server would require a second license of SQL Server, which can be an expensive proposition. It also doesn’t make much sense, because it promotes bad design. Luckily, the SSRS service application is specifically exempted from additional licensing requirements. The following is taken directly from the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 license document. Section 2.5 states:

2.5    Running Instances of the Additional Software.

You may run or otherwise use any number of instances of additional software listed below in physical or virtual operating system environments on any number of devices. You may use additional software only with the server software directly, or indirectly through other additional software.

  • Business Intelligence Development Studio
  • Client Tools Backward Compatibility
  • Client Tools Connectivity
  • Client Tools SDK
  • Data Quality Client
  • Data Quality Services
  • Distributed Replay Client
  • Distributed Replay Controller
  • Management Tools – Basic
  • Management Tools – Complete
  • Reporting Services – SharePoint
  • Reporting Services Add-in for SharePoint Products
  • Master Data Services
  • Sync Framework
  • SQL Client Connectivity SDK
  • SQL Server 2012 Books Online

 

Notice that little bullet point “Reporting Services – SharePoint”? That’s the service application. Put simply, this means that in order to use SSRS in SharePoint Integrated mode, you’ll need to have at least one licensed SQL server, but you don’t need to run it on the SQL machine. In fact, according to the line “any number of instances” you can run it on as many SharePoint servers as you wish to take advantage of load balancing without incurring any additional licensing cost for SQL Server.

License State Error Joining a SharePoint 2010 Server to an Existing Farm

I ran into an interesting error this week at a client site. They had been having server trouble, and that involved setting up a new instance of the operating system, and obviously all of the SharePoint bits needed to be reinstalled. Once that was done, I ran the Products and Technologies configuration wizard, set it to join an existing farm, entered the farm credentials and everything was good until Step 3 – where it connects to the configuration database. At that point it choked with:

“The license state for the current server doesn’t match the farm’s license state.”

My first impulse was that I had used the wrong key when installing the bits. Trying to join an Enterprise farm with a Standard server, or vice versa could cause this, but I was able to confirm that I had used the right key.

After a fair bit of head scratching, I realized that I had committed the mistake that I always commit with 2010, and I had forgotten to install the Office Web Applications. I had indeed installed them on the farm, and the rebuilt server did not yet have it installed. After installing them, I was happy to see that the server joined the farm successfully.