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Microsoft believes Power BI Premium will put to rest criticisms of the company's commitment to business intelligence PHOTO: Tove Paqualin

Microsoft announced the general availability of Power BI Premium at its Microsoft Data Insights Summit, which took place June 12 to 13 in Seattle.

Power BI will now work with nearly all Microsoft applications and is also embeddable with a number of third-party applications.

During his keynote James Phillips, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Business Applications, Platform and Intelligence (BAPI) organization, pointed out that with the general release Power BI Premium businesses have a choice between multiple capacity sizes, with different numbers of virtual cores.

Memory sizes also vary and can scale as a business's requirements change. The release also introduced a new licensing offering, which allows users to share Power BI dashboards and analysis with people both inside and outside the firewall. The company promised more functionality to come, with a limited preview of what to expect given on the first day of the conference.

The release of Premium marks a big step forward in a short time, as the product went from beta to general release in a month. 

With Power BI Premium, You've Got Options 

Power BI Premium was first announced on May 3 and was marketed by Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft as its next step in developing technologies to give workers means to dig deeper into critical business intelligence.

According to Phillips, the general release of Premium will enable organizations to customize and scale Power BI in a way previously impossible.

Because Power BI Premium is dedicated exclusively to a single organization — instead of a shared cloud offering open to multiple organizations — it gives enterprise users more flexibility with deployments, based on the needs of a team, department or the broader organization.

Finally, for those organizations wanting to keep Power BI in the enterprise, Microsoft offers an on-premises deployment, which distributes interactive Power BI reports and traditional paginated reports using the on-premises Power BI Server.

Putting BI Commitment Fears to Rest

According to Phillips, the development of BI and the release of Premium is an answer to critics who, as recently as three years ago, complained Microsoft had shied away from business intelligence.

“If you go back three or four years, there were reasonable questions about Microsoft's commitment to the business intelligence market. I think if you look at the levels of investments that we've made, the progress that we've made, the growth of our user population, I think those questions are far behind us,” he said during his keynote.

A lot of that progress relates to the creation of an API, which opens the system up to integrations with content packs for cloud-based and software offerings.

It's a strategy that appears to be working. Power BI now claims two million users, who create 30,000 data models in Power BI services every day.

Busy Summer Plans for Power BI Premium

Over the course of the summer, Microsoft plans to extend Power BI deeper into the enterprise and will introduce more effective ways of inputting queries and formulating responses.

Among them is a "What If" query, which gives users the chance to dig deeper into query responses by changing the original question's parameters.

The company will also add Quick Insights in the coming months, a feature which automatically crates visualizations and offers insights users may not have anticipated based on specific data sets.

Also in expected updates will be new Custom Data Connectors, an Amazon Redshift connector, Direct Query support as an enhancement to the SAP BW connector and the beta of an IBM Netezza Connector.