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Power BI Users, Guest Accounts and Licensing (Establishing a Power BI Environment)

A Power BI environment is established through the Office 365 admin center. The environment consists of Office 365, Azure Active Directory, and of course, Power BI. Azure AD is the backbone of the environment setup, as user creation, and license assignment all leverage AD functionality.

O365 Container

When setting up your Power BI environment, it is important to understand what data store in Azure the environment will exist. This is not done within Power BI directly, but based on your Office 365 country or Azure AD data center. Note, it is important to think about other Azure resources Power BI may utilize. To prevent things like latency and Azure Egress charges, your environment should reside in the same or nearby Azure region as the related services. You can check your Power BI data store from the Power BI Service at any time.

Power BI Licenses

There are two Power BI license types that come with a cost, Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium. Power BI Pro is licensed by user, allowing that user access to easy to use self-service analytics, collaboration workflows, dashboard sharing, and report publishing. Power BI Premium is licensed by capacity. Premium is for Power BI projects requiring data at scale demanding performance, as well as the ability to distribute content to users without a paid license. It is important to understand a Power BI Premium license is for content, while Power BI Pro is for users. Here is the most straightforward example: If a department within your organization with 500+ users’ needs access to a single Power BI workspace full of reports and dashboards, a Premium license can be used to assign a dedicated capacity to that workspace. In order to publish new content to that workspace, a user with a Power BI Pro license is required. To view content, a Free license user or guest account can be used.

The third license type to discuss is a free license. Free licenses are assigned per user and allow users to consume content in a workspace assigned to a premium capacity, as well as some access to the Power BI service for personal content.

Power BI License Comparison

License Assignment can be done either in the Office 356 Admin Center or Active Directory by a global admin. There are also ways to assign licenses through PowerShell if there is an interest to automate this process in any way. Licenses can be assigned to individuals, or security groups if working with Azure AD Premium. When Pro licenses are assigned to a security group, any individual within the security group will have Power BI Pro. This offers the ability to manage by groups rather than individual users.

With an understanding of the license types, we can further discuss the two types of users that will consume and create content. It is important to understand the different user types to set up your environment for secure organization sharing, as well as external sharing.

Organization user accounts are created in the Azure AD tenant. These users can consume content based on access to content, and their license.

Guest accounts are external to your organization. These accounts are part of Azure AD B2B and B2C, allowing people outside your organization the ability to consume and even edit content. The B2C approach allows users with accounts like @gmail and @outlook, to view Power BI content.

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