Deploying Power BI to the Enterprise

June 11, 2020

Navigating the Maze of Options in Power BI

When you're deploying Power BI to the enterprise, the maze of options – each with its own set of benefits and limitations – can be truly mind-boggling. Making the best choices for an optimal deployment is complex.

In this on-demand webinar, get information to help you confidently navigate the sea of Power BI options. We discuss some typical use scenarios, tradeoffs and major considerations to keep in mind when planning an enterprise rollout of Power BI.

You will learn:

  • Is Power BI Pro enough? When should we move to Premium?
  • When and why to use 
    • Power BI Pro (with Power BI service)
    • Power BI Premium
    • Power BI Report Server
    • Non-Power BI applications (SSRS, SSAS, Azure AS)
  • Tradeoffs: cost, capacity and features
  • Right-sizing Power BI for your organization to meet today's needs and prepare for tomorrow's growth
  • Considerations when planning a deployment
    • Processing power
      • Shared capacity vs. dedicated capacity
    • Reporting formats
      • Interactive reports (optimized for screens)
      • Paginated reports (optimized for printing or PDF) 
    • Data sources, processing and storage
      • On-premises vs. cloud data sources
      • Dataflows and datasets
      • Direct queries vs. imported data

The Power BI ecosystem is complex. Understanding the considerations and tradeoffs of the available options will help ensure you optimize the rollout of Power BI for your organization.


Microsoft Power BI


Steve Reed-Pittman
Director of Enterprise Architecture and Engineering
Senturus, Inc.

Steve brings 25+ years of experience in business and technology to his role at Senturus. From hands-on problem solving to high-level strategic planning, he has delivered a broad range of software and systems architecture, engineering and integration projects, both on-premises and in the cloud. With constant attention to the intersection between business needs and technical options, he partners with our clients to help them leverage the right modern BI solutions for their current and future needs.

Adam Harper
Senior Microsoft Architect
Senturus, Inc.

Adam is an active member of Microsoft advisor groups including Power BI Advisors and the Power BI Customer Advisory Board.


  • Power BI is a fast-evolving platform
    • New features and enhancements are released monthly
    • Always visit Microsoft’s documentation site for the latest feature information
  • Commonly-used components
    • Power BI Pro
    • Power BI Service
    • Power BI Premium
    • Power BI Gateway
    • Power BI Report Server
    • Other applications and services (SSRS, SSAS, Azure)
    • Which ones do you need? It depends…
  • Power BI Pro
    • A per-user license which enables sharing and collaboration features in Power BI
    • Every user who creates and publishes shared content
    • Any user who needs to view or interact with shared content — UNLESS the shared content is published in Power BI Premium
    • Pricing model: per-user
  • Power BI service
    • Cloud capacity for creating, publishing and sharing Power BI content
    • Note: The Power BI service operates on a “shared capacity” basis (compute resources are not reserved for exclusive use)
    • Power BI Pro licensed users can use the Power BI service to distribute and consume shared content
    • Pricing model: free
  • Power BI Premium
    • Dedicated cloud capacity for creating, publishing and sharing Power BI content
    • Allows Power BI free users to access shared content
    • Includes significant additional enterprise-level features (including paginated reporting, on-premises report server, bring-your-own data lake and more)
    • Power BI free users can use Power BI Premium to consume content that has been shared by Pro users
    • Power BI Pro-licensed users can use Power BI Premium to distribute and consume shared content
    • Pricing model: capacity-based
  • Power BI gateway
    • Application that creates a secure data transfer path between on-premise data and the Power BI service
    • Note: Multiple gateway nodes can be configured as a cluster for high-availability and load balancing
    • Allows the Power BI cloud service to securely access your on-premise data sources
    • Pricing model: free
  • Power BI Report Server
    • On-premises server for Power BI reporting
    • Interactive reporting
    • SSRS-style paginated reporting
    • Data sovereignty
    • To supplement Premium cloud capacity
    • Pricing model: included as part of Power BI Premium
  • Other applications and services
    • SSRS — if you don’t want to consume Premium capacity for paginated report processing, you can use SSRS for paginated reporting
    • SSAS — if you have an existing SSAS environment, you can connect directly to your SSAS data sources instead of migrating them into Power BI
  • Azure services
    • Azure SQL Database: “SQL Server in the Cloud”
    • Azure Analysis Services: “SSAS in the Cloud”
    • Azure Data Lake Storage: High-performance, low-cost storage for big data
    • Azure Data Factory: Data movement/orchestration
  • User licensing (free and Pro)
    • Power BI free users:
    • Cannot publish shared content
    • Can access shared content only from a Power BI Premium capacity
    • Power BI Pro users:
    • Can publish shared content to the Power BI service and to Power BI Premium
    • Can access shared content from both the Power BI service and Power BI Premium
  • Capacity licensing (Premium)
    • Power BI Premium provides dedicated capacity and additional enterprise-level features
    • Dedicated capacity guarantees that a specific amount of memory and processing power is always available for your organization’s workloads
    • Note: Pro licenses are still required for users who publish shared content in Power BI Premium
  • Power BI Premium SKUs – overview
    • To embed Power BI content in SharePoint or Microsoft Teams, you MUST purchase a Power BI Premium EM SKU or higher.
  • When should you step up to Premium?
    • If you have more than 500 users:
    • Monthly cost of P1 Premium SKU = monthly cost of 500 Pro users
    • At the Premium level, Pro licenses are only required for users who need publish capability
    • Free users have unlimited access to shared content that is stored in a Premium capacity
    • If you want dedicated compute resources that your team can administer directly:
    • For security
    • For performance
    • If you need Premium-only features, such as:
    • Paginated reporting
    • On-premises reporting (Power BI Report Server)
    • Incremental data refresh


  • Premium-only features (partial list)
    • Paginated reporting
    • Publish and consume paginated reports in Power BI
    • Includes cloud-based and on-premises paginated reporting capabilities
    • Power BI Report Server
    • On-premises server with support for interactive and paginated reporting
    • Power BI dataflow enhancements
    • Incremental data refresh
    • Bring your own data lake
    • Linked entities and enhanced compute engine
  • Dataflows – overview
    • Dataflows extract data from the sources and store the data in high-performing Azure Data Lake Storage
    • Allows ETL-like data transformations and mashups in the cloud
    • Ideal solution for rapid integration of disparate data from new sources (e.g. integrating new data as part of an acquisition)
    • Bridge the gap between enterprise and self-service data preparation.
  • Power BI dataflows
  • Dataflows ingest, transform, integrate and enrich big data by defining data source connections, ETL logic, refresh schedules and more
    • Benefits
      • Reusability across multiple datasets
      • Different source refresh schedules
      • Can be used as a pseudo data warehouse
  • Dataset query modes – how is the data accessed?
  • Dataset mode: Import
  • Imports data from the source system and stores it in the Power BI data model
  • Queries are executed against the imported data, rather than the underlying source system
    • Reasons to use it
      • Small to medium amounts of data
      • Real-time data not required
      • Fast performance/responsiveness
  • Dataset mode: DirectQuery
    • Performs a live query against the underlying data source (data is modeled in Power BI)
    • Reasons to use it
      • Large amounts of data
      • Real-time data requirements
      • Source security
      • Data sovereignty
  • Dataset mode: live connection
    • Performs a live query against the underlying data source (data is pre-modeled in the source)
    • Reasons to use it
      • Shared datasets
      • On-premises SSAS
      • Azure Analysis Services
  • Dataset mode: composite
    • Uses a hybrid approach (query engine determines whether to use Import or DirectQuery mode)
    • Reasons to use it
      • Large amounts of data
      • Performance optimization
      • Combination of aggregate and detail data required for reporting