Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services, or SSRS, is the main reporting component to their BI infrastructure. Its been included in the last few versions of SQL Server through 2012 and continues to be refined. This is the traditional report creation module and is part of the SQL Server installation package. It is usually deployed along with the database.
The main and most common data source for SSRS is the SQL Server database backend, since it is part of the same software package. The tight integration normally makes this the best approach. SSRS can connect to other data sources via ODBC, or OLEDB, including Oracle and SAP, although these third party vendors are less commonly accessed with Microsoft tools, but usually the vendor’s front end. A more common alternative data source are multidimensional Analysis Services cubes. This allows for access to OLAP analysis that is not possible inside the SQL database. Another growing datasource are PowerPivot models.
Detailed reporting authoring is performed using Visual Studio for hard-core developers. Add-on Report Builder software allows business users to create their own reports without developer assistance. Version 3.0, released with SQL 2008 R2, is the latest release. While it is much simpler to use, it does not offer all of the functionality of the full developer suite. Report authors can use pre-defined schemas to construct and deploy their own reports through the Report Builder.
Using web-based tools, reports can be deployed in a variety of ways. They can be easily integrated into .net applications or shared via Sharepoint, as well as integrated into website infrastructures. As the reports are in XML compatible language, they can be pushed out in several varieties. Report Manager is the web-based tool used to access the Report Server. Here, users can administer their own reports and control access and distribution in a limited basis.
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