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Trying to determine the appropriate cost of a Microsoft Fabric license for your organization can be a challenging endeavor. There are many factors to consider ranging from the number of users using the service, how many resources are needed, which features should be available, and so on. While there isn’t an easy way to pinpoint the best license option for your organization, this guide aims to break down the different components of the licenses to help you understand them and make an informed decision. Let’s discover the Cost of Microsoft Fabric!

We can start with an easy concept in that each Fabric license comes with every tool in the suite. This means Data Factory, Synapse Data Warehouse, Synapse Data Engineering, Synapse Data Science, Synapse Real-Time Analytics, Power BI, and Data Activator all become available no matter which license you choose. Not included in this list are OneLake and Copilot. While OneLake does technically come with each license, it was excluded from the list because of the extra costs that come with it, which will be highlighted later. This leaves Copilot, which is not a standalone tool in the Fabric suite, but one that can be used in conjunction with the others. To unlock Copilot, you would need to have at least an F64 SKU.

What are SKUs? SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit. More importantly, an SKU is a level of license that Microsoft offers. For Fabric, there are eleven SKUs to choose from!

SKU Level in Microsoft Fabric
Figure 1 – SKU Level in Cost of Microsoft Fabric

Having a lot of options is great, but it also makes it harder to understand what each option really offers. Don’t worry! Remember that each SKU includes tools in the suite!

If all the tools come with the cheapest SKU, why would an organization spend money on a more expensive one? The answer to this introduces our second key concept: SKUs are based on the quantity of resources allocated to the capacity. This means the more computing power used across the tools, the higher the SKU you need to purchase. The one caveat to this rule, mentioned earlier, is that Copilot unlocks at the F64 tier.

The next step is figuring out which SKU is right for the organization. We don’t want to pay more than necessary, but we also don’t want to throttle our tools and reports by using too much computing power in a lower SKU. How can we measure the required computing power before buying a license? Unfortunately, we don’t. Perhaps the most frustrating part of Fabric licensing is the numerous variables that determine the use of computing power. You won’t know how much you need until you test it.

While there isn’t a good way to determine the appropriate SKU, there are some mechanisms in place to help save money while figuring it out. Purchase capacities on a Monthly or Reserved basis. While reserved capacities do cut down on costs by a whopping 41% compared to monthly, it probably isn’t a great choice until you know Fabric is right for your organization. This is because you must commit to a year with the reserved capacity. While the monthly plan does cost more, you are able to opt-out at any time. Another mechanism to help save money is the ability to Pause your capacity. While Fabric resources aren’t in use, you can configure the capacity to be paused, which stops additional costs from incurring.

A great way to test the cost of Microsoft Fabric is to take advantage of the two-month trial Microsoft offers. While using this trial, you can monitor the usage of resources to get a sense of the cost and experiment with the tools. (You may need an admin to allow the trial to appear as an option.) If the trial is not an option, it is recommended that you start with an F2 SKU, which is the cheapest option.

As mentioned in the beginning, there is still one more cost to consider in Fabric. OneLake is an important tool that is part of the Fabric suite, but using it incurs an additional cost not covered by any Fabric licenses. Like the Fabric SKUs, some testing is necessary to determine the cost of OneLake.

Determine the Cost of OneLake
Figure 2 – Determine the Cost of OneLake
  • OneLake Storage
    • At $0.026 per GB, the general OneLake storage is the total amount of stored data.
      • Uploading a dataset or retaining historical data are examples of when the cost would increase.
  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR)
    • At $0.0468 per GB, BCDR storage behaves similarly to the general storage, except you pay a premium to have your data backed up at different geographic locations.
  • Cache
    • At $0.20 per GB, you can cache data for faster responses.
      • Caching is used for KQL queries and Data Activator.

Note: The pricing examples used in this document are based on East US costs.

How does Power BI factor into all of this?

For those who are already paying for Power BI, whether it’s Pro or Premium per User, nothing has changed. The main change is that we are now merging the P SKUs with the F SKUs, starting with the merge of P1 and F64. With this licensing change, those with P SKU licenses will keep all the original features that came with it and now also get access to the Fabric suite.

If you are interested in Fabric and aren’t already using Power BI, you will likely encounter an additional cost of Microsoft Fabric that we didn’t mention earlier. While using Power BI in Fabric isn’t mandatory, it is a comprehensive and popular tool within the suite making it likely you will want to use it at some point. Here is a quick guide to what you can expect.

Power BI Free

Power BI Desktop is free for everyone to use. This application allows you to connect to data sources, transform data, and create visuals that make up a report. Power BI Desktop is where all the heavy lifting in report creation happens and it’s free.

If the most important piece of Power BI is free, then when do the fees come into play?

Power BI Pro ($10/month per user)

As soon as a user wants to share their beautiful report, they need to start paying. Not only does the author of the report need a subscription, but the person they are sharing it with does too. Costs for Power BI begin when you want to share. In order to publish a report to the Power BI Service (the browser/cloud version of Power BI), you must have a Pro license. Publishing a report to a workspace in the Service allows other applicable users to view and interact with that report. However, these users also need at least a Pro license to access the workspace.

Note: There are free and paid methods for sharing that do not involve the Pro license. However, the free methods are unsecure and cumbersome to manage. The paid versions have niche use cases and can be complicated.

With a Pro license, users can create reports and share them with each other. These capabilities are likely to satisfy organizations that are just getting into Power BI.

Premium User ($20/month per user)

If users can already create and share reports with Pro, what else is there to pay for? More advanced features and resources introduce additional expenses. As we mentioned in the Fabric pricing section, you can only acquire licenses beyond Pro for additional resources. Premium per User (PPU) offers a handful of features in Power BI and extra capacity.

Premium per Capacity (Sunset)

There’s a fourth Power BI license option? Not anymore! Premium per Capacity is currently being sunset, as it is being merged with F SKUs. Premium capacities started at P1 at ~$5,000 and were the starting point that allowed unrestricted sharing of reports between users. Since we still include the Premium per Capacity features in the F SKUs, paying for an F64 SKU or above eliminates the need to purchase Pro or PPU licenses for sharing reports.

While Power BI is part of the Fabric suite, it’s important to understand that there is still a cost to sharing reports between users. This remains true unless the organization pays for an F64 SKU or above, which makes workspaces available to unlicensed users

FAQs

  1. How can I get Copilot?
    • The Fabric Copilot turns on in your tenant when paying for an F64 SKU or higher.
  2. Do Power BI licenses come with Fabric?
    • No. Power BI licenses are sold separately from Fabric. However, they are mostly unnecessary if paying for an F64 SKU or higher, as unlicensed users can access designated workspaces.
  3. Do I need a Power BI license to use Fabric?
    • No. Many tools in the Fabric suite don’t involve Power BI.
  4. What is a SKU?
    • An SKU is a Stock Keeping Unit. They are a set of tiers that offer different levels of resources with associated costs.