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Power BI Premium and Azure Analysis Services

Principal Program Manager at Microsoft

Power BI Premium provides the richest set of capabilities for both self-service and enterprise BI solutions. Azure Analysis Services is also an option for enterprise BI solutions. So if you’re looking at deploying an enterprise BI solution, which one is for you?

First – some definitions. Power BI Premium is a hosted service (SaaS) that allows you to host datasets and share Power BI reports and dashboards with anyone in your organization without requiring recipients to be individually licensed. Power BI Premium provides dedicated hardware and capacity hosted by Microsoft for reliable and consistent performance. This dedicated capacity can be scaled up or down according to your business needs. In addition to datasets, Power BI Premium includes several other workloads including dataflows, paginated reports, and AI. Analysis Services is the engine powering the datasets workload.

Analysis Services tabular models can be created and deployed in Azure Analysis Services. With Azure Analysis Services, almost all tabular models can be moved into Azure with few, if any, changes. There are multiple deployment options and service tiers within each option that you can tailor to meet your requirements. In less than a minute, you can configure the service tier you require in the Azure Portal. Note that multi-dimensional models are not yet supported in Azure Analysis Services.

Power BI Premium is the focus for enterprise BI and the primary target for future investments. In time, Power BI Premium will provide a superset of the capabilities when compared to Azure Analysis Services.

Feature Considerations

With a few exceptions, Power BI Premium provides a superset of the capabilities available in Azure Analysis Services. In time, these exceptions will be eliminated making Power BI Premium a clearly superior choice when considering capabilities alone.

The table below lists where the significant differences exist between the two offerings:

Power BI PremiumAzure Analysis Services
Unlimited Power BI content viewingYesNo
Paginated ReportsYesNo
AI WorkloadYesNo
Multi-model memory managementYesNo
Pre-Aggregated tablesYesNo
Composite modelsYesNo
Automated incremental refreshYesNo
Large datasetsYes (in preview)Yes
Third party application supportYes*Yes
Bring Your Own Key (for encryption)Yes (in preview)No
Scale outNot yetYes
Metadata TranslationsNot yetYes
Object Level SecurityNot yetYes
PerspectivesNot yetYes

* XMLA Read operations only. Support for XMLA Write operations are coming in early 2020.

Unlimited Power BI Report content viewing is the capability to share a report or dashboard with everyone in an organization. Absent this capability, each user must possess a license to view the dashboard or rep