A review of Microsoft Reporting Services

Microsoft is still the king of the enterprise. Sure, other DB systems, like Oracle, or business intelligence systems exist, but Microsoft is still the one to rule them all. It’s not surprising considering they have created a fully off-the-shelf package that is almost versatile enough to work for any business. Best of all, most of their packages are extensible in one way or another. In order for to fully utilize Microsoft’s fully integrated information systems, though, businesses have to be able to pull data from the systems that employees can comprehend. That’s where Microsoft’s Reporting Services play an integral part in the system.

Microsoft’s reporting services are not a fully self-service BI solution. Microsoft’s reporting services, pull data from SQL server, and other information stores, and creates reports and organizes data that can easily be exported to content management and creation tools, like Sharepoint, Word, and Excel.

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Because Microsoft’s reporting services are not a self-service BI reporting set of tools, they will require design and input from the IT staff and other business groups. Reporting Services is a plugin to SQL Server that requires a few different parts.

• Report Manager
• Report Server
• Report Designer

The IT staff will have to ensure the required components of SQL server are installed and working properly. Once that is done, a reporting management system has to be created that houses and manages the reports.
It’s important to think of reports as objects in this case. Reports are created by a report designer. A report designer will create a series of files to pass to the report manager. The report manager will use these files to pull information from the report server, and as such the raw data from SQL, to create and pass reports to other Microsoft groupware applications like Word, Excel, or Sharepoint.

Once the reports are created, they can be used by anyone in the organization or automated to pull and dump data on a scheduled timetable. In that sense, once the systems are setup, anyone can use Microsoft’s reporting services.
This article barely scratches the surface of Microsoft Reporting Services. The capabilities, extensibilities, and uses for Microsoft Reporting Services are so complex that Microsoft’s own Technet devotes hundreds of pages and tutorials to the services.

Thankfully, Microsoft is working hard to make Reporting Services easier to use and integrate. The services are only getting better with the integration of cloud services like Azure. Really, though, if Microsoft’s Reporting Services are something that may be a fit for your business environment, it is worth doing a deep dive into the full system on Technet or hiring an advisor to do some training. Microsoft’s reporting services are a complex and powerful tool that, when used correctly, amplifies business intelligence by an order of magnitude.

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