Article Series – Understanding Microsoft Fabric Licensing: A Simplified Guide

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Microsoft Fabric is a complete data analytics SaaS solution that offers a wide range of analytics workloads, including Data Integration, Warehousing, Engineering, Business Intelligence, Data Science, and Real-time Analytics. Essentially, it provides all the tools and resources you need for comprehensive data analytics projects.

As organizations consider implementing Microsoft Fabric, understanding its licensing and cost estimation becomes crucial.

Based on our experience assisting our clients in navigating the intricacies of Microsoft Fabric’s licensing and pricing, I’ve written a series of articles on the subject, with the goal of making it easier to understand. We’ll delve into the factors to consider when choosing the most suitable license and provide examples exploring various licensing scenarios and their associated costs.

The article series is structured as follows:

1. Key Components of a Microsoft Fabric Subscription

2. Microsoft Fabric License Types

3. Understanding Microsoft Fabric Licensing and Cost Estimation

    ✔️ Variables to Consider for Cost Estimation

    ✔️ Power BI Licensing vs Fabric

    ✔️ Example cost estimation where we will explore different licensing scenarios

   ✔️ Checklist of questions to gather the information needed to estimate Microsoft Fabric pricing

4. Microsoft Fabric Capacity Metrics app

5. How to Acquire Microsoft Fabric Capacity

Part 1. Key Components of a Microsoft Fabric Subscription

A Microsoft Fabric subscription is composed of three fundamental elements: tenants, capacities, and workspaces.

1. Tenant

A Microsoft Fabric subscription starts with a “tenant.” Think of a “tenant” as a powerful computer server in a large data center. This server is dedicated to a specific organization, ensuring that all the data and applications within it are isolated and secure from other organizations.

A tenant usually represents an organization or domain and serves as the highest-level container that is linked to a unique internet address, called a Domain Name System (DNS). It ensures that the organization’s data is safe, organized, and easily accessible. Larger organizations may have multiple tenants for various departments or regions.

2. Capacity

A Microsoft Fabric capacity resides on a tenant and is a distinct pool of resources allocated to Microsoft Fabric. The size of the capacity determines the amount of computation power available to the organization.

The “capacity” can be thought of as the server’s hardware resources, like its RAM (memory) and CPU (processing power). The greater its capacity, the more computing power it will have for its tasks.

Capacity types:

    – Dedicated Capacity: A reserved set of computational resources allocated exclusively for a specific organization or task within Microsoft Fabric. This means that the memory, processing power, and other resources in this capacity are the exclusive use of that specific organization or task, ensuring consistent performance and preventing potential slowdowns from other users or tasks.

    – Shared Capacity: A pool of computational resources which are distributed among all the users accessing it. While it’s cost-effective, there might be fluctuations in performance, especially during peak usage times, as multiple users tap into the same pool of resources.

3. Workspace 

Workspaces are specialized containers for Microsoft Fabric items located within capacities. As in a server (tenant) and its resources (capacity), there are several applications and programs running. Each of these can be compared to a “workspace” in Microsoft Fabric. These workspaces use the server’s resources (capacity) to run, store data and perform tasks.

By default, workspaces are placed in  shared capacity.  But as the organization grows and has additional capacities available, these workspaces can be strategically placed in any of the existing shared or dedicated capabilities to better suit their organizational needs.

In essence, the server (tenant) provides the environment, its hardware resources (capacity) power the operations, and the applications (workspaces) are where the actual tasks and storage occur.

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