March 20, 2023
Power BI is Microsoft’s robust business intelligence tool that allows you to create interactive dashboards and reports from various data sources. You may face challenges meeting data residency requirements if you have customers or users in different regions or countries. This blog post will explain the options for building a multi-region Power BI environment to address these challenges.
The first user in an organization to sign up for Power BI or Microsoft 365 chooses the country or region for the business identity. The region selected during sign-up, called the home region, determines where data is stored. Power BI stores all data, for all users, in this home region: models, push datasets, query cache, dashboard/report metadata, etc.
Power BI offers two licensing models: per user and per capacity. Per user licensing (Free, Pro, or Premium Per User) provides individual users with access to its modern, self-service analytics capabilities. Per capacity licensing (Premium or Embedded) allows organizations to reserve and share Power BI compute and data resources, called capacities, without per-user licenses for content consumers. Power BI Premium and Power BI Embedded have Multi-Geo support: each capacity can be created in a region other than the home region. However, only some data is stored in the capacity region, with the rest remaining in the home region for the tenant. For the latest details on which data is stored in the capacity region, consult the Microsoft documentation.
Suppose your application is not subject to strict data residency requirements, or you know all your users are in the same country/region as your organization’s home region. In that case, you can avail yourself of any Power BI licensing structure. If you’re using per capacity licensing, ensure all your capacities are configured with your home region.
If your user base is distributed globally, and your application needs to meet stricter data residency requirements, you have two options described below.
A single Power BI Premium Capacity tenant is one option for building a multi-region Power BI environment. You purchase one or more dedicated capacities for your Power BI subscription and choose a region for each capacity. A Power BI capacity is a pool of resources that multiple workspaces and users can share. Any workspaces created under a capacity will store their content in the capacity’s region. However, some items such as push datasets, Excel workbooks, dashboard/report metadata, service buses for gateway queries or scheduled refresh jobs will remain in the home region of your tenant.
The advantage of this option is that it simplifies the management of your Power BI environment. You only need one tenant and one set of licenses for your users. You can also leverage features, such as incremental refresh and XMLA endpoints, only available for Premium capacities.
The disadvantage of this option is that it can be expensive. You must purchase enough v-cores to support your workload and performance requirements across all regions. You must also pay attention to data sovereignty and compliance issues, as some data can still cross region boundaries.
Another option for building a multi-tenant multi-region Power BI environment is to use multiple per-region Power BI tenants with any license type (Free, Pro, Premium Per User, Premium Capacity, or Embedded). You create separate tenants (organizations) for each region where you want to store your data and assign licenses to your users depending on their needs.
With this option, all data is stored in the tenant’s home region (assuming you’re not relying on the Multi-Geo feature of Power BI Premium or Embedded). Remember that you choose your home region when you create a tenant. Then, ensure that users are appropriately assigned to their region’s tenant.
The advantage of this option is that it gives you more flexibility and control over your data location and licensing costs. You can use per-user licensing if you don’t need dedicated capacities or premium features. You can also ensure compliance with local regulations by keeping all data within a specific region.
The disadvantage of this option is that it increases the management overhead of your Power BI environment. You need to create and maintain multiple tenants and subscriptions for each region. You also need to invite users from other tenants as guest users if you want them to access content across regions.
In summary, there are two main options for building a multi-region Power BI environment: single tenant with Power BI Premium or Embedded licensing using the Multi-Geo feature or multiple single-region tenants with either per user or per capacity licensing. The first option is simpler to manage but does not ensure all data is stored in the target region and can be expensive for smaller organizations. The second option ensures all data is stored in the target region, which can be more cost-effective, but requires a higher management overhead.
Depending on your business needs and preferences, you can choose either option or combine them as needed.
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