What is the difference between Power BI service and reporting server

Power BI service and reporting server: In the ever-evolving landscape of business intelligence, Microsoft’s Power BI has emerged as a game-changer, empowering organizations to turn raw data into meaningful insights. As organizations delve into the world of Power BI, they encounter two distinct offerings: Power BI Service and Power BI Reporting Server. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll embark on a journey to understand the nuances of each, exploring their features, use cases, and how they shape the data analytics landscape.

What are the main differences between Power BI Service and Power BI Reporting Server?

Power BI Service is cloud-based, enabling remote collaboration and automatic updates. In contrast, Power BI Reporting Server is on-premises, offering control over data and tailored server environments.

Power BI Service: Unleashing the Power of the Cloud


Power BI Service represents the cloud-based iteration of the Power BI suite, residing on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. As a web-based service, Power BI Service facilitates the creation, sharing, and collaboration on reports and dashboards in real-time. This cloud-centric approach eliminates the need for on-premises infrastructure, offering unparalleled accessibility and collaboration capabilities.

Key Features:

  1. Accessibility: Power BI Service provides users with the flexibility to access reports and dashboards from any device equipped with an internet connection.
  2. Collaboration: Real-time collaboration is a hallmark of Power BI Service, allowing multiple users to simultaneously work on and view reports, fostering efficient teamwork.
  3. Automatic Updates: Reports hosted on Power BI Service benefit from automatic updates, ensuring that the insights presented are always based on the latest data.
  4. Sharing: The platform simplifies the sharing process, enabling users to effortlessly share reports and dashboards with stakeholders both within and outside the organization.

External Resources:

  1. Power BI Service Overview

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Power BI Reporting Server: On-Premises Empowerment


In contrast, Power BI Reporting Server serves as the on-premises counterpart to Power BI Service, offering organizations the ability to host, view, and interact with Power BI reports and dashboards within their own infrastructure. This on-premises solution provides enhanced control over sensitive data, catering to organizations with stringent compliance requirements.

Key Features:

  1. On-Premises Hosting: Power BI Reporting Server allows organizations to keep their data on-premises, ensuring compliance with organizational policies and industry regulations.
  2. Customization: Organizations can tailor the server environment according to their specific security and infrastructure needs, providing a high degree of customization.
  3. Integration with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS): Power BI Reporting Server seamlessly integrates with SQL Server Reporting Services, combining the traditional reporting capabilities of SSRS with the modern data visualization features of Power BI.

External Resources:

  1. Power BI Reporting Server Documentation

Understanding the Differences:

1. Deployment:

  • Power BI Service: Deployed in the cloud, hosted on Microsoft Azure.
  • Power BI Reporting Server: On-premises deployment, allowing organizations to host and manage reports locally.

2. Accessibility:

  • Power BI Service: Accessible from any device with an internet connection, fostering flexibility and remote collaboration.
  • Power BI Reporting Server: Accessible within the organization’s internal network, ensuring data security and compliance.

3. Collaboration:

  • Power BI Service: Facilitates real-time collaboration with cloud-based features, allowing multiple users to work on and view reports simultaneously.
  • Power BI Reporting Server: Collaboration is limited to users within the organization’s internal network, providing a controlled environment.

4. Updates:

  • Power BI Service: Automatic updates ensure that reports reflect the latest data, offering a seamless and dynamic user experience.
  • Power BI Reporting Server: Updates require manual intervention and may not be as instantaneous as the cloud-based service.

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Comparison table highlighting key differences between Power BI Service and Power BI Reporting Server:

Feature Power BI Service Power BI Reporting Server
Deployment Cloud-based on Microsoft Azure On-premises within organization
Accessibility Accessible from any device Accessible within internal network
Collaboration Real-time collaboration in the cloud Limited to internal network users
Updates Automatic updates for timely data Manual updates, may not be instant
Customization Standardized environment High degree of server customization
Integration Integrates seamlessly with cloud services Integrates with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
Security Adheres to Microsoft’s cloud security standards Offers on-premises control for enhanced security
Hybrid Deployment Can be part of a hybrid deployment with on-premises data sources Essential for on-premises analytics in a hybrid scenario

FAQs: Answering Your Burning Questions

Q1: Can I use both Power BI Service and Power BI Reporting Server together?

A1: Absolutely. Many organizations opt for a hybrid approach, leveraging the cloud-based Power BI Service for external collaboration and the on-premises Power BI Reporting Server for internal use. Integrating both environments is possible, and you can learn more about it in the Power BI Hybrid Deployment documentation.

Q2: What are the security considerations for each option?

A2: Power BI Service adheres to Microsoft’s robust cloud security standards, while Power BI Reporting Server allows organizations to maintain control over their data on-premises. To delve deeper into security considerations, explore the Power BI Security documentation.

Q3: How can I migrate from Power BI Service to Power BI Reporting Server?

A3: Microsoft provides a guide on migrating Power BI reports from the service to on-premises. The Power BI Migration documentation offers step-by-step instructions for a smooth transition.

Q4: Are there any limitations to using Power BI Reporting Server?

A4: While Power BI Reporting Server offers on-premises advantages, it may lack some of the cloud-based features available in Power BI Service. Review the Power BI Reporting Server limitations to make informed decisions based on your organization’s requirements.


Distinguishing between Power BI Service and Power BI Reporting Server is paramount for organizations charting their course in the data analytics realm. Whether embracing the cloud-based flexibility of Power BI Service or opting for the on-premises control of Power BI Reporting Server, organizations can tailor their approach based on specific needs, compliance requirements, and infrastructure preferences. Armed with the knowledge gleaned from this guide and the wealth of external resources provided, you’re well-equipped to navigate the Power BI ecosystem, make informed decisions, and leverage the full potential of Microsoft’s powerful business intelligence platform.