But, like most examples in life, free either doesn’t deliver on the promise or ends up costing you in the end – hugs are perhaps the one exception. In many instances, free ends up meaning limits – limits that typically can’t be overcome to deliver what you really need without a lot of compromise, customization and additional cost.
There are real, and important, differences in the way Qlik and Power BI are designed and deployed that make Qlik the clear choice for modern analytics needs. From my perspective, there are three key areas where Qlik outshines Power BI – freedom to explore your data with any cloud you want; flexibility to scale your insights without limits; and the comfort knowing that when you pick Qlik, you get all of Qlik and don’t have to go searching for additional budget every time your analytics needs and use grows. This holds true when comparing Qlik vs Power BI vs Tableau too.
Don’t Lock Users – or Your Data – Down
One of the main differences between Qlik and Power BI is that, at a fundamental level, Qlik is agnostic and Power BI is not. Microsoft wants you to rely on everything Microsoft (namely Azure), because buying more of their products means more market value for them. That doesn’t serve today’s enterprises, which want an agnostic, independent web-based platform to move, manage, integrate and analyze data across multiple sources, at enterprise scale and speed.
With Power BI, you’ll be stuck with Azure – and only Azure. It simply won’t work with other cloud providers. But, you will get some (unwelcome) variety: Power BI’s on-premise functionality is very limited when compared with its cloud experience. Qlik is independent and agnostic, so you can deploy your data as you see fit – on premise, in any cloud or both. Qlik gives you full control, so your data can create value for you. Period. While we offer a SaaS solution if you want, we are also fully committed to hybrid multi-cloud so you have choice.
Analytics and Insights Should Scale
Uncovering insights works best when users have a complete, up-to-date view of all relevant data. This requires the ability to integrate and combine data from any source, as close to real-time as possible. To do that successfully, you need an analytics platform that’s built to handle data at any scale without compromising performance or driving up costs.
Power BI Pro has very low data limits – 1GB per data set. You’re just starting to get going with a multi-data set analytics exercise before you blow right by that limit. That means switching to Premium (for a “whopping” nine more GBs) or live query, which slams the breaks mid-analysis on any momentum toward insights you need for real-time work. Qlik has generous data volumes standard to match the majority of analytics use cases. And with Qlik, you can pull usable data from multiple sources, at enterprise speed – and grow seamlessly and easily. We also don’t limit the number of daily refreshes because we know having current information is essential to getting value from your data.
Another big limit to scaling with Power BI is the way it manages governance and user interfaces. With Power BI, data is spread across peoples’ desktops and the cloud, which creates hurdles to governance and access to trusted data. In addition, if you have more than one use case, you need a range of Microsoft products to execute both mobile analytics and self-service visualizations, for example.
Qlik avoids all these headaches with our flexible, single interface that enables creation of dashboards, full-featured apps, interactive reports, custom and embedded analytics and more. And, with Qlik’s web-based platform, data is centralized, easily managed and always available while still providing users autonomy to analyze and explore.
TCO – Free Is Never Really Free
This difference is the clearest one to me when you get into real, modern analytics use cases. With Power BI, the costs go way beyond the initial “free” price point. Analytics total cost of ownership (TCO) needs to factor in all the associated costs – that means including infrastructure, system setup, app development and support.
Yes, Power BI may initially seem low-cost or no cost. But, to work at enterprise scale, you'll have to pay a lot for the upgrade and additional add-ons to execute the variety of analytics I mentioned above. And, remember, Power BI is built on a patchwork platform designed to motivate purchase of additional stack products, which significantly drives up TCO.
Qlik is built from the ground up on modern architecture designed to help customers be more profitable. Our end-to-end web-based platform is ahead of the curve with its robust analytics and data integration offerings. And, total cost of ownership is lower with Qlik – and customers know exactly what it is from the get-go. No getting hit with extra data or compute costs down the road.
For many of us, it’s hard to resist the siren song of a ‘great’ price. But, the truth is we usually regret going for the bargain version of anything that we really value or need. And, in the end, we just wish we had invested in the quality version that continued to perform and bring us value for the long haul. When it comes to Qlik vs. Power BI, only with Qlik do you get modern analytics that can leverage any cloud, at enterprise scale, from one interface that delivers value to every analytics use case you can imagine with no hidden fees.