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Blogs / Microsoft / Power BI / Understanding the ‘n’ Key Difference between Power BI Report Server and Power BI Service

Understanding the ‘n’ Key Difference between Power BI Report Server and Power BI Service

Jul 19, 2019


What is Report Server and Power BI Service?

Power BI Report Server is the on-premise option offered by Microsoft Power BI Deployment Suit. Power BI Service on the other hand is the cloud service and the cloud solution from Microsoft.

Usage of Capacity Nodes

There are many major differences in terms of going with On-Premise or Cloud. But the common point to note on both is the usage of Premium capacity for your organization resources to run on. This is covered in Power BI Premium. Power BI Premium when purchased is placed as a On-Premise. The option is given to the organization to scale up and use Power BI Service when needed.

Power BI provides the scalability with the existing business model. This blog explains the key difference between the Power BI report server and Power BI service.

Top 6 Key Differences between Power BI Report Server and Power BI Service

1. Creating reports on the Browser

This is one of the most unique features as the solution is hosted on the cloud and can be consumed via Web browser having access to Power BI Service. Users who have Power BI accounts can consume the Power BI Service. The features can be accessed based on the user (Free/Pro User).

2. Creation of Dashboards

Yes, Power BI supports creation of Dashboards on the Power BI Service only. We have multiple options from pinning the tiles to the dashboard. Perform and place advance visualization on the dashboard when consuming Power BI Service. With the use of Azure Machine Learning Module this becomes a great advantage for using Power BI Service.

3. Usage of AI and Machine Learning Capabilities

Power BI Service has a direct connection to the Azure Machine Learning Module which gets connected via this service. We can perform and use AI charts and components from Power BI. Key Influencer is one such visual which can be used when the report/dashboard building is done on Power BI Service.

4. Data Alerts

Data Alerts could possibly be on of the must needed feature for fast moving organizations who want to take actions based on quick alerts, when their KPI’s dip down compared to the normal level. This feature is not available in Report Server. Alerts are placed on the Power BI Visual – KPI cards. These alerts can also be received on Power BI Mobile.

5. Usage of R and Python Engine

The usage of R and Python in Power BI can be enabled or disabled with the option found on the settings level in Power BI Service. This becomes inapplicable when we tend to use Power BI Report Server.

6. Preview Features

When a release is up, all Power BI users wait eagerly to test and taste all its new features. Only the Power BI Service model gets its preview features. These get tested and the reviews are given out for the preview features. The Report Server model needs to wait to avail the preview features until it becomes generally available.

Feature Comparison List

DeploymentOn-premises or Private cloudPublic CloudPower BI Report Server can be deployed in Azure VMs (hosted cloud) if licensed through Power BI Premium
Source dataCloud and/or on-premisesCloud and/or on-premises NA
LicensePower BI Premium or SQL Server EE with SAPower BI Pro and/or Power BI Premium NA
LifecycleModern lifecycle policyFully managed service NA
Release cycleOnce in every 4 monthsOnce in a monthLatest features and fixes come to Power BI Service first. Most core functionality comes to Power BI Report Server in the next few releases; some features only meant for the Power BI service.
Create Power BI reports in Power BI DesktopYesYes NA
Create Power BI reports in the browserNoYes NA
Gateway requiredNoYes for on-premises data sources NA
Real-time streamingNoYesReal-time streaming in Power BI
DashboardsNoYesDashboards in the Power BI service
Distribute group of reports using appsNoYesCreate and publish apps with dashboards and reports
Content packsNoYesOrganizational content packs: Introduction
Connect to services like SalesforceYesYesConnect to the services you use with content packs in the Power BI service. In Power BI Report Server, use certified connectors to connect to services. See Power BI report data sources in Power BI Report Server for details.
Q&ANoYesQ&A in the Power BI service and Power BI Desktop
Quick insightsNoYesAutomatically generate data insights with Power BI
Analyze in ExcelNoYesAnalyze in Excel
Paginated reportsYesYesPaginated reports are available in the Power BI service in preview in a Premium capacity
Power BI mobile appsYesYesPower BI mobile apps overview
ARC GIS mapsNoYesArcGIS maps in Power BI service and Power BI Desktop by Esri
Email subscriptions for Power BI reportsNoYesSubscribe yourself or others to a report or dashboard in the Power BI service
Email subscriptions for paginated reportsYesNoE-Mail delivery in Reporting Services
Data alertsNoYesData alerts in the Power BI service
Row-level security (RLS)YesYesAvailable in both DirectQuery (data source) & Import mode
Row-level security in the Power BI service
Row-level security in Power BI Report Server
Full-screen modeNoYesFull-screen mode in the Power BI service
Advanced Office 365 collaborationNoYesCollaborate in an app workspace with Office 365
R visualsNoYesCreate R visuals in Power BI Desktop and publish them to the Power BI service. You can’t save Power BI reports with R visuals to Power BI Report Server.
Preview featuresNoYesOpt in for Power BI service preview features
Custom visualsYesYesCustom visuals in Power BI

Which one should you go with?

This is purely based on the organizational needs. If the organization requires the usage of Reporting within its firewalls and security, then it is recommended to go with Power BI Report Server. But if the organization is looking to explore and check and enjoy features advanced with AI and ML capabilities then Power BI Service is recommended.

Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/report-server/compare-report-server-service

Know more about Microsoft Power BI services offerings from Visual BI solutions here.

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