/ 4 min read /

04 Things You Need To Know About Looker Pricing: Plans, Structure, and Mechanism

by Phuc Nguyen

Over the years, Looker pricing has become something of an enigma. No matter how hard to find, there's always a curtain drawn over it.

People made (educated) guesses, asked Reddit, and posted on Quora, but no one really knows the deets. So we set out to trace back everything related to Looker pricing floating around cyberspace, synthesize them here and tell you about it.

Here's what we know about Looker pricing.

01. They used to have a 21-day free trial

Back in 2018 and before that, you could request a free trial on Looker.

You would then jump onto a brief introduction call and product demo with Looker reps so that they could learn more about your analytics needs.

During your trial, you'd also have full access to our support team and most of Looker's features and functionality.

What changed: Looker no longer offers a free trial and we can derive a few observations:

  • Their service motion is now sales-led. You need to request a demo, and get on a call with their sales team before you can have a try at the product.
  • They cater more to enterprises (which is pretty self-explanatory). You can negotiate for a small-business discount - you’d need to work with your salesperson to structure your Looker package to what you need.

02. Looker Complex Pricing Mechanism: An Explanation

Back in 2018, on the Looker pricing page, it said that Looker pricing is based on varying factors including the number of users, database connections, and scale of deployment.

(this section is now removed)

Take a look at various community posts on Slack, Reddit, Quora, here's what we know:

  • Looker entry price is around $35K/year (~$2900/month).
  • Add on: $30 for dashboard viewers, $60 for dashboard creators, and $120 for developer (who can write LookML)
  • The $35K threshold has been around since 2018, so it's unlikely that the price point is any lower in 2022 (especially when you take in the inflation). Thought it’s been said that you can negotiate with Looker sales rep for a discount.
  • Most companies with embedded analytics use case skip Looker due to the high price for dashboard viewers ($30/viewers).

Feel like Looker's humongous cost breaks your back? Check out the best alternative to Looker

03. Looker Pricing Model (According to AWS Marketplace)

On AWS Marketplace, you can also find the “retail” pricing for Looker.

Units Description 12 Months Cost
Standard - Platform STANDARD - Looker Platform with 10 Standard Users, 24/7 Live Support $66,600
Advanced - Platform ADVANCED - Standard Looker + 100k Query API Calls & 2 Looker Servers $132,000
Elite - Platform ELITE - Advanced + 100k Admin API Calls & 8 Looker Servers $198,000
Add On - View User Platform add-on user: view, filter, and schedule pre-made reports $400
Add On - Standard User Platform add-on user: query modeled data - drill down+content creation $799
Add On - Dev/Admin User Platform add-on user: build & administrate the data model $1,665

For more usage information, check out this page

04. Not Ready For Looker Pricing? Check out other Looker alternatives

Other than the hefty price point and steep learning curve (with LookML setup), Looker is a great BI tool - you should totally go for it if you have the budget.

That being said, Business intelligence tools shouldn't break banks and your analytics efforts shouldn't get bogged down by eye-watering costs, especially amidst our current economic climate.

Cruise around analytics communities for a couple of minutes and you can easily find comments like this one where data teams voicing their discomfort with Looker price point:

Here are some budget-friendly Looker alternatives oft-mentioned by analytics communities:

  • Holistics: A self-service business intelligence platform that comes with a centralized data modeling approach, custom DSL language (similar to LookML), git version control, and dbt integration. Here's a detailed comparison between Holistics and Looker.
  • Metabase: An open-source SQL editor and data visualization tool. Metabase has been viewed as “analyst-centric” as users can turn any SQL query into reports and dashboards.
  • Lightdash: A BI & data visualization tool built on top of dbt. Positioned itself as an open-source alternative to Looker.

If you look for something similar to Looker in both architecture and capacity, then consider Holistics.

Holistics and Looker are a very close comparison as both tools take a very similar approach to BI: code-based modeling layer with self-service data exploration.

Both tools are 100% cloud-based, provide a centralized data modeling approach for BI teams, and empower business users who don’t know SQL can do true self-service.

Holistics UI

Looker is generally more mature than Holistics in terms of analytics functionality, but Holistics is also catching up fast. You can think about Holistics as a mini-Looker, where you get around 80% of the functionalities for probably 20% of the price.

A downside of Looker is that it requires your data team to learn LookML (which can be expensive to hire or train), while Holistics provides a gentler learning curve toward setting up data modeling.

In short, if you look for a self-service BI tool similar to Looker, with the right mix of pricing and functionality - you might want to check out Holistics.

Here's how an ex-Looker user made the switch to Holistics.

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