Power BI vs. Whaly

What is Power BI?

Initially released in 2011, Power BI is a business intelligence platform that was developed by Microsoft, and sits under the Microsoft Power Platform. Power BI is the umbrella name for various software apps and services that work together to help companies create interactive visualizations from multiple data sources, turning them into coherent insights.

What is Whaly?

Whaly is an integrated, self-service business intelligence platform that enables business teams and data teams to work better together - streamlining the path from data to decisions. Our mission is to grow data adoption and company-wide trust in data by empowering business teams to access and analyze data, whenever and however they need it. Whaly includes data connectors, modeling, and visualization all in one.


Power BI is a solid choice for companies that use the Windows, Office, and Azure ecosystem. While the Microsoft “seal of approval” adds a layer of credibility, there are some downsides to being locked into this tech giant. There’s a requirement that data gets loaded into Azure, and the platform is only available for download on Windows, which can be frustrating and limiting for those who favor Mac. Unsurprisingly with Microsoft, Power BI is an entire suite of interrelated tools, comprising of Gateways, Power BI Report Server, and more - which means you may need to master several tools in order to take full advantage.
Speaking of learning curve, Power BI caters to Microsoft Excel power users, which means these are the people who will benefit the most. Most end business users (data consumers) who haven’t mastered Excel may find it difficult to use, and not as user-friendly. This could pose an adoption issue across the company, with different interpretations to whether it’s truly “self-service” for business teams.
Power BI is relatively affordable compared to Looker or Tableau. It has a free version for those who want to build individual reports and perform analysis independently - which is a plus if you work on your own. The paid option begins when the need for collaboration across an organization arises. The various tiers provide for flexibility, however, beware of hidden costs around implementation, training, maintenance, and adoption. It gets pricey at the enterprise level, which makes Whaly a better option if you’re a fast-scaling company.
Other reported watch-outs for Power BI is load time for larger data sets, and sharing capabilities which are limited even in the paid version.
All in all, Power BI is well-suited to larger enterprises who are already in the Microsoft ecosystem (and if they can foot the Premium bill) - just watch out for the load time of larger data sets. Whaly’s speed, fast implementation, customer support, and higher flexibility makes it a better fit for companies that are earlier in their data journey.

At a glance

FeaturePower BIWhaly
AvailabilityWindows only - not available for Mac Windows and Mac
  • Power BI Free / Desktop: Free (basic, limited features for SMB owners and individual professionals)
  • Power BI Pro: Included with Microsoft 365 E5. $13.70 per user/month. Paid viewer licenses.
  • Power BI Premium(for Enterprise): per-user or per-capacity options. $27.50 per user/month. $6,900 per capacity/month. Paid viewer licenses.

Beware of hidden costs around implementation maintenance, training, and adoption.
Mix of usage-based and user-based; viewers are always free. Whaly also has flexible plans that start at $460/month. Implementation is included, along with 1 training session.
Learning curve
  • Steep at the beginning - approx. 2 months of learning,
  • Lots of online resources to help due to large user base and community, but not much guidance from Microsoft
  • Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) is the programming language that’s required to model in Power BI, which can be hard to grasp
  • Its excel-like features and formulas make it easier to learn if you’re an Excel power user or familiar with other Microsoft products.
  • May need to learn other interrelated tools on need basis.
  • A couple weeks of learning
  • Easy - all SQL-based with visual builder option. Easily accessible for business users with no technical expertise.
Average roll-out timeSeveral months minimum, depending on size of company and scale of project 1 to 3 weeks
Data connectors (ETL) Yes, via ETL tool called Power Query Editor.Included
IntegrationsConnects to 116 data sourcesNative integration with dbt.
Connects with 150+ sources.
Speed / PerformanceSlow with large amounts of data. Load time could take up to several minutes due to heavy processing power. Publishing reports is also time-consuming.Fastest speed/performance on the market built on latest technology
InterfaceWeb interface to a service hosted on Azure, and a Power BI Desktop application for the Windows desktopIn-browser; no desktop install or specific requirements.
Software updatesMonthly updates that need to be made manually (not automatic), which can be time-consuming and frustrating. Whaly automatically updates all customer deployments at all times and makes sure nothing is broken and no one is left behind.
User permission managementYesYes
Self-serviceYes, for consumption. Limited self-service capabilities for configuration, with DAX requirements. Self-service for modeling (data-savvy), exploration, and consumption. Configuration requires a main builder with SQL knowledge.
Modeling layerYes, but in a separate app. Power Pivot is the modeling tool for creating data models SQL-based or visual builder. No proprietary language to learn. Drag & drop is available for non-technical users.
Visualization for business teamsStandard visualization capabilities. Customization is limitedComprehensive capabilities and customization
Limitations2GB of data for free version; 10GB for Pro; 50GB for PremiumData ingestion is calculated on processing time. First plan starts at 12h / month
Export / Share / Embed No share options in Free version. In Pro, you have the option to share with other users who also have the Pro license. Limited export options to get data into the right format for a recipient. Premium account is required to share information outside the organization.
Custom visuals cannot be exported.
Whaly’s “push” feature allows reporting to be pushed out to your preferred channels (Slack, Email). Dashboards can be embedded into wherever you already work (HubSpot, etc). With Whaly, it’s free to share data out.
Customer support Varies based on tier. Strong for Premium, but otherwise lacking with long waits in the ticketing system. No real-time support.Highly reactive with SLAs in place; quick problem-solving team. Partnership-minded team that learns from customers and implements based on real needs.

Cautions for Power BI:

  • Not available for Macs - locks into Windows
  • Implementation may be complex if you aren’t using the Microsoft ecosystem, which could require consultancy services to get you going. Power BI requires a Microsoft Azure set-up, which means you usually have to copy all your data into Azure
  • Offer a free version and relatively affordable compared to other big-name BI tools like Tableau. However, watch out for hidden costs that can get expensive as you scale. Training & Maintenance cost with Microsoft’s various training partners can also add up.
  • Learning curve - steep at the beginning To set up Power BI, must learn proprietary language Data Analysis Expressions (DAX), which is the programming language that is used throughout Microsoft Power BI, necessary for modeling, calculations, and creating the semantic layer. You may also need to learn other interrelated tools within suite of products.
  • Tailored to Excel power users and those who have mastered Microsoft Products. In this way, whether or not it’s truly “self-service” for business teams will be open to interpretation.
  • Data ingestion limits: limited to 2GB for free version. For more data, must upgrade to a paid version.
  • In addition to the data ingestion limits, there are lags and slowness when processing large data sets.
  • A big reported downside is that reports and dashboards are not easily shareable. Custom visuals are not able to be shared or exported.
    • Free: no sharing functionalities
    • Pro: unable to share reports to users who don’t have the app installed
    • Premium: only the most expensive tier provides the ability to share information outside your organization
  • Limited customization abilities - difficult to go beyond basic BI reports. Visuals are quite basic/standard, similar to Tableau.

Whaly benefits

  • Whaly is available for both Mac and Windows, with no limitations
  • Whaly is the cheaper overall option for organizations that need to collaborate as they scale
  • Whaly is much simpler and faster to learn and set up. It doesn’t demand much time, resources, or upfront investment to start getting value from your data.
    • No proprietary language requirements. Whaly uses raw SQL for modeling by data-savvy builders, which is an industry standard that many data professionals already know.
    • Faster roll-out time (1-3 weeks). Once trained, it takes 1 hour to get explorations set up.
    • Implementation takes under an hour
  • Whaly’s core mission is to bridge the gap between data teams and business teams, providing them with the same framework of communication.
  • As a result, Whaly is self-service beyond the surface level. Whaly’s easy drag & drop interface empowers non-technical business teams to do more with the data. No need to be a “power user” of any other tools to easily grasp Whaly.
    • Data-savvy business users can even participate in our modeling layer
    • Non-technical business users can explore, run queries, and drill down to get deeper insights from the data, autonomously going beyond the dashboards.
  • Data ingestion is calculated based on processing hours, with the first plan offering 12h/month. No size limits.
  • Whaly embraces and relies on the best open source technology. No locking in, just trying to give you the best of the best.
  • Our processing power and latest technology make for much faster load time and queries.
  • Flexible and unlimited sharing abilities with Whaly. Push and embed features means reporting access is tailored to how stakeholders already work - enabling faster analytics access.
  • Whaly’s visualizations are highly customizable
In summary, Power BI has various pricing tiers that includes a (limited) free version, but can get expensive and complex as the need to collaborate arises. It also locks into Windows and works best with a full Microsoft ecosystem, favoring Excel power users. Slowness and lack of sharing abilities may also impact speed to business insight and prevent data adoption across the company. Whaly is lighter, faster, and overall cheaper for a fast-scaling company.
Benoit Prigent
Benoit Prigent
Co Founder / CPO @ Lokki
Whaly helped us create metrics on top of 6 data sources in a matter of days instead of months without technical knowledge required !!
Edouard Mascré
Edouard Mascré
Co Founder @ Pennylane
We leveraged Whaly on the Sales team to build and share dashboards with ton of partners without having to continuously update things on many spreadsheets. It also gives us deeper insights on sales activity. The dashboards built can be shared with everyone in the company. Whaly saves us hours of data wrangling every day.
Benjamin Cambier
Benjamin Cambier
Co Founder @ Mansa
Mansa grew really fast in the past months and we were in urge of more precise metrics, especially for acquisition and deals analysis. Our engineering team was already swamped so we started our data analysis with Whaly. We compute our CAC per acquisition channel and understood at what stage the pipeline is under performing in minutes.
Quentin Lebret
Quentin Lebret
VP Operations @ Klox
Whaly gave us the tools to understand how our users consume our product and helped us create a better experience for our users.
Julio Cesar Rodriguez
Julio Cesar Rodriguez
Operation Automation Specialist @ Career Karma
Whaly helped us create actionable experience for our SDR based on data our data team has prepped for us in dbt.
Hugo Cornu
Hugo Cornu
Head of Growth @ Klox
Whaly helped us transform the way we work with data. We now back all our decision with data and can make informed decisions at any time