Introduction to SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
In today's ultracompetitive business environment, having good information is essential. Companies are awash in information, and with the advent of technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), more and more information is coming. Technology has made the job of gathering information trivial, but making sense of it all still remains elusive. This makes good reporting and business intelligence tools essential.
This first chapter is strictly nontechnical. This chapter focuses on the following:
- Capabilities of SSRS
- How it fits into the Microsoft Business Intelligence platform
- Report development life cycle as it relates to SSRS
- Editions of SSRS
- Licensing SSRS
What Is SSRS?
SSRS is Microsoft's answer to business reporting. It provides a unified, server-based, extensible, and scalable platform from which to deliver and present information. Its scope extends from traditional paper reports to web-based delivery and interactive content. SSRS can also be configured to deliver reports to people's inboxes, file shares, and so on. SSRS is capable of generating reports in various formats, such as the web-oriented Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and desktop application (Microsoft Excel and CSV) formats, thus allowing users to manipulate their data in whatever format is required. In addition, SharePoint can be used as a front end for SSRS, allowing reports to be presented directly in corporate portals.
SSRS is just one of the components in the Microsoft Business Intelligence (BI) platform. Combined, those components provide an excellent platform for enterprise data analysis. The Microsoft BI platform includes the following:
- SQL Server: The traditional database engine, which also stores SSRS catalog data.
- SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS): A component for online analytical processing (OLAP) and data mining. OLAP performs data aggregation and allows users to traverse from aggregations to details looking through the dimensions (such as geography or time) of data. Data mining helps users to discover patterns in data.
- SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS): A component for extracting, transforming, and loading (ETL) data.