An interesting question from a client of mine that I did not know how to properly answer.
They wanted to know that if they (10-20 users) could simply use the Power Bi report file and open it in Power Bi Desktop, hit refresh and get the info they wanted instead of uploading it through the Power Bi Gateway, and viewing it through the Power Bi Service as a pro licensed user.
Ethically I know this is wrong but is there a terms of service or something i can point to that tells them "No, this is a bad idea."
I have not heard of it being forbidden but what happens if one user makes a small change and hits save? Around here there are only a couple of us who can really work with the pbix files. If you are building a pbix file for a client, can they handle the inner workings?
Just one mistake can roll down hill fast in a shared file. In fact, I had to disable persistent filters because small changes were being saved in the service that cause the data to show different numbers to different people.
I would not recommend this.
Yes, this is typically a bad idea. For example, if you're getting data from a SQL Server, that means you're giving all of your employees credentials to directly access that SQL Server, considering credentials are stored locally, rather than encrypted into the PBIX file.
Also, once you fragment the report out to 20 different people, and you realize you need to update the report because of a mistake, or new assumptions, it's very difficult to rip the old, outdated version from everyone's hands. I've seen situations where people are attempting to make business decisions on 9-month-old assumptions, KPIs, and measures. Very nasty thing to happen to your business.
Additionally, you're also giving everyone the ability to hit your source systems at will, whenever they want to. More than one user might take off that filter that says to only get the last 12 months of data and start refreshing it multiple times a day, pulling tons of bandwidth over your network or hosing a storage device or database.
I could probably keep going for a while on this, but there's definitely compelling reasons to use the Service. Otherwise, you end up in a similar "spreadsheet hell" situation most companies have dugs themselves into with a forest of dubious Excel files.
Thanks yu @SonnyChilds and others. Some very good points your are mimicing when I discussed this with the client. Appreciate your quick responses.
Additionally, if they only need 10-20 people using it, that would only be $100-200/mo at current Pro pricing. Avoiding the issues listed above, and gaining all the benefits of the service, is well worth that price.