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New authentication option facilitates AAS migrations to Power BI Premium at a low price point

Headshot of article author Kay Unkroth

We are excited to announce that XMLA endpoints on Premium Per User (PPU) now support Azure Active Directory (AAD) authentication with service principals. This authentication option enables administrative applications to perform automated maintenance tasks and unattended service-level operations by using their own app identities, which is often a requirement for migration of existing tabular data models from Azure Analysis Services and SQL Server Analysis Services to Power BI Premium. For technical details, see the article Automate Premium workspace and dataset tasks with service principals in the product documentation.

Service principal authentication on PPU makes it easier for small and medium businesses and workgroups within large organizations to migrate their existing tabular BI solutions. It is no longer necessary to purchase a full Power BI Premium capacity if you need to perform automated maintenance tasks and other unattended operations by using a dedicated application identity. Your administrative tools and scripts can now perform these tasks on PPU without requiring an interactive user account. Service principal authentication on PPU is only allowed automation scenarios; it is not allowed for end-user reporting scenarios on PPU as these still require interactive user account authentication. PPU is a low-cost option to get access to Premium capabilities on the Gen2 platform. It is now easier than ever to migrate your models and unlock the full feature richness of Power BI in your data analysis solutions.

Migrating your tabular data models to Power BI Premium Per User offers the following benefits:

  • Leverage Power BI as a superset of Analysis Services – Consolidation of artefacts in Power BI can result in simplified discovery and management due to co-location. There is no need to “bridge the gap” between multiple products. Central IT teams can more easily harvest self-service artefacts that have become popular and are causing a management burden for the business. Such artefacts are taken over by IT and operationalized for mission-critical decision making based on governed data, alignment with corporate standards, and lineage transparency. Simplifying this workflow by sharing a common platform promotes collaboration between the business and IT.
  • Low-cost entry point – PPU offers provides a lower-cost price point at the per-user level to get access to Premium capabilities on the Gen2 platform. This addresses a need we’ve heard time and again from AAS customers. PPU helps remove possibly the biggest barrier to migrations from AAS to Power BI.
  • Lower total cost of ownership – With most PaaS services, some management overhead is inevitable. Power BI Premium Gen2 is more like a SaaS service in this respect. Gen2 costs are charged based on CPU usage. You no longer need to pause servers to avoid charges during low usage because, with Power BI Premium, you only get charged for what you use. And with service principal support, you can keep using your existing administrative and maintenance tools and scripts with minimal modifications.
  • Consistent performance – The Gen2 architecture is more insensitive to overall load, temporal spikes, and high concurrency. Gen2 offers significant concurrency and performance gains due to its distributed architecture. For example, Concurrent dataset refreshes on the same virtual capacity are automatically distributed across physical machines, negating the need to manage dataset contention. Especially when consolidating capacities to larger SKUs, the need for scale up/down can be reduced.

With support of service principal authentication on Premium Per User, you can take your enterprise BI solutions to the next level by migrating your tabular data models to Power BI. Note that the user account that your admin tools and scrips use to access a dataset must have a valid Premium Per User (PPU) license unless the dataset resides on a Premium capacity. Yet, you can get a trial version of PPU through Microsoft 365. By using a trial version, you can quickly test the migration of your tabular solutions free of charge. So go ahead and see for yourself how much value Power BI can add to your solutions after their migration and provide us with feedback if you want to help deliver additional PPU enhancements that facilitate the migration of your BI workloads to world’s best and most successful BI service – Power BI! We would love to hear from you!

For additional details, check out the article Power BI Premium Per User in the product documentation.