As Microsoft continues to release new product updates, and most recently with the launch of new reporting features in SQL Server 2016, I thought it would be a good idea to take a broader look at where Microsoft is planning to go in the future, and review how all of these reporting components fit together.
vs. & Cloud – Creating Synergy Across Both
With the wide array of data sources available nowadays – from traditional databases, to Big Data and real-time data – Microsoft has evolved their BI reporting platform in order to both leverage existing reporting capabilities and provide a scalable and flexible solution that meets the data, deployment, and security requirements of an organization. They are doing this through a seamless integration between their On-Premises and Cloud offerings.
Microsoft’s solution for on-premises reporting is SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). With the revamping of the Reporting Services web portal, and a facelift of SSRS reports & charts, Microsoft continues to provide a robust reporting platform for creating standardized, operational reports that have become an essential part of the day-to-day reporting and analytics needs for most companies.
In addition to SSRS, Microsoft is providing self-service and visual data discovery capabilities through Power BI Desktop. As part of the integrated on-premises offering, users can deploy their Power BI reports to the Reporting Services web portal and leverage role-based security to control who has access to these reports.
Both SSRS and Power BI Desktop provide the reporting capabilities to suit an organization’s reporting style – whether that is highly-formatted canned reports, or self-service ad-hoc reports and data discovery – and can be easily deployed and consumed in a single interface through the web portal.
Lastly, the Reporting Services web portal allows the ability to create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) directly on the portal, as well as the ability to upload existing Excel files and Mobile Reports. The web portal provides a centralized reporting repository for on-premises solutions; and creates a seamless, integrated experience for end users.
Power BI continues to be Microsoft’s go-to BI cloud offering solution, and with the new features in SQL Server 2016, companies can continue to leverage their existing on-premises reporting investments. With Reporting Services 2016, users have the ability to Pin their favorite charts from SSRS to a Power BI dashboard. In addition, the Power BI Gateway lets users connect to on-premises sources such Analysis Services, SQL Server Databases, and Excel files without requiring the data to move to the cloud.
Microsoft’s approach to BI reporting allows organizations to easily switch between on-premises and cloud technologies, as well as create hybrid solutions that fit their data and security requirements.
The mobile reporting platform is spearheaded by SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher and the Power BI mobile app. With Mobile Report Publisher, users can create reports that are optimized for different mobile form factors, such as iPhones and tablets. These reports feature an assortment of visualizations, from time, category, and comparison charts, to treemaps and custom maps.
The Power BI app provides a unified mobile BI experience and gives users access to all report types – regardless of whether they reside on-premises or in the cloud. The Power BI app allows users to stay connected to their data from anywhere, anytime, and from any device.
Four Report Types
Microsoft’s path forward focuses on four report types:
Paginated Reports – These are SSRS reports that can be leveraged for developing highly formatted, standardized reports. Paginated reports can be used for creating printed reports or online operational reports.
Interactive Reports – Using Power BI Desktop, users can create their own ad-hoc reports for visual data discovery, as well as interact and share their findings with others. Built on the next generation of Power View’s technology, and leveraging HTML5 for web rendering, this is Microsoft’s solution for Self-Service BI.
Mobile Reports – Built using Datazen’s technology in the newly introduced SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher, these reports are optimized for mobile devices.
Analytical Reports and Charts – These are Excel created reports, and can be leveraged either on-premises or in the cloud.
What’s not in the Roadmap?
SharePoint – Organizations are no longer required to have SharePoint in order to leverage Microsoft’s BI reporting tools or to provide a centralized report repository. Instead, SSRS can be deployed in Native mode, and the Web Portal acts as the report hub for Paginated Reports, KPIs, Mobile Reports, and Analytical Reports.
PerformancePoint – While PerformancePoint is still included in SharePoint 2016, it is not highlighted in Microsoft’s BI roadmap, and with SharePoint not being a requirement for BI reporting anymore, it seems like PerformancePoint doesn’t have much of a future.