First thoughts on Power BI on premises

The wait is over, the Reporting Services team finally released a preview for Power BI Desktop reports hosted on premises using Reporting Services! The preview itself is a VM hosted in Azure. You can read all about setting it up in the SSRS team blog post.

I toyed around with the VM for a few minutes in and these are my first thoughts:

  • provisioning a VM in Azure is simple. Like, really easy. I wonder why companies are so hesitant against the cloud. I see only benefits. And I have to admit shamefully, it was the first time for myself that I started playing around in Azure. I have lots of catching up to do.
  • the Power BI Desktop reports still have their own section in the portal. At the time being, there are no “preview screenshots” like the mobile reports. I hope this changes soon.

power bi on prem, report portal

  • as you can see in the previous screenshot, there’s also a lot of Mobile Reports content (even more, the screenshot doesn’t show all reports). It’s great to have some content to dive into and find out how they made everything work.
  • there are three sample Power BI Desktop files. All three are fairly basic reports. Clicking on them will open the report nicely in the browser, where it will behave just like in Power BI Desktop or in

power bi desktop rendered in browser

  • there’s also a new feature: a comments section. Here you can leave comments about the report. Your domain name and the time are logged alongside your comment. This is a great way to start a discussion about the content of the report.


  • clicking on the three dots in the portal gives you a pretty standard context menu.

power bi on prem context menu

  • when you click through to Manage, you can set about the same properties as on a normal report. Standard properties – like the description and if you want to hide the item – but also data source properties and security.

power bi on prem security

  • one thing that I am missing, is when you are rendering the report that there is an “edit report” button that takes you to Power BI Desktop. A bit like in, where you can also go to edit mode if you have the correct permissions.
  • by the way, if you truly want to test it locally, you can download the .vhd file (the virtual hard disk) and run it in your own HyperV environment.

All in all it looks very nice for a first preview. Currently only SSAS is supported and custom visualizations are not, but I guess the SSRS team will surprise us with more features soon. Great job SSRS team!

Koen Verbeeck

Koen Verbeeck is a Microsoft Business Intelligence consultant at AE, helping clients to get insight in their data. Koen has a comprehensive knowledge of the SQL Server BI stack, with a particular love for Integration Services. He’s also a speaker at various conferences.

2 thoughts to “First thoughts on Power BI on premises”

    1. SQL Server 2017 has just been announced today, but as far as I know there are no licensing details yet. However, I won’t be surprised if it will be Enterprise only (just like mobile reporting is in SQL Server 2016).

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