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Monday, May 8, 2017

Power BI with Narrative Science: Look Who's Talking (Part 3: On or Off premises)

[2017-May-08] Listening to a car radio with many different talk shows available, it comes more often to my mind, that certain segments of those radio stations broadcasting would eventually be substituted/automated by machines. I don't think it will happen overnight, but the voice natural language generation software is a reality and it's very near! Weather and road traffic news could be the first ones to replace, the data is already available and AI can consume it with different levels of verbosity and variety, thus it will speak like a human.

Natural language generation software already writes reports and creates communication based on data; several companies develop AI products that are able to consume/absorb user data and automatically explain what meaning of this data using natural human language. I've written two blog posts about the Narrative Science extension for Power BI:
- Power BI with Narrative Science: Look Who's Talking? 
- Power BI with Narrative Science: Look Who's Talking (Part 2: Predicting the Future) 

This time I want to briefly write about an option of using Narrative Science extension for Power BI on-premises. This will be very helpful for an organization that works with sensitive datasets and expects to keep their data secure within its own network environment.

This is how a free extension of the Narratives for Power BI works:

After placing a Narrative Science Power BI extension to your report and assigning specific dataset, then this data is transmitted to the Narrative Science platform over internet; where it gets processed and narratives are being generated.  Which then are transferred back to the Power BI report in a form of a natural human communication. Please read here how Narrative Science protects your data in this case: How does Narrative Science protect client data?

There is a 2nd option where Narrative Generation Application and Licensing Agent are hosted on separate servers. 
No client-specific data leaves your network, but internet connectivity is required for licensing:

Here is an extract from the Narrative Science  hardware/software requirements for both  Narrative Generation Application and Licensing Agent (

Hardware/Server Recommendations:
Linux Server (Examples: Virtual machine, Azure instance) with the minimum system specifications:
1.    Number of Cores – 2
2.    Memory - 2GB per core
3.    Disk - 20GB
If you are installing the Narrative Science licensing agent on a separate server from the narrative generation application, the minimum system specifications for the agent server would be:
1.    Number of Cores – 1
2.    Memory - 2GB
3.    Disk - 10GB
Software Requirements: Operating System - Linux CentOS 7 or RHEL 7 (with systemd)

After setting up both servers you will need to activate license to Narratives for Power BI.

There is one drawback with the licensing though. The number of Narrative Sciences licences purchased must equal to the number of Power BI Pro licenses that you have within your organization, regardless of the actual number of users who plan on working with the Narratives. Perhaps this would be changed in future, especially with the recent changes to  Microsoft Power BI licensing itself.

You can always check the Narrative Science web site ( and contact them directly for more information on specifications and pricing details.

Happy data adventures!

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