Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services Extends Business Intelligence Across the Enterprise

DALLAS, June 2, 2003 — At Microsoft Tech•Ed 2003, Microsoft announced it would release Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services by the end of this year. Reporting Services is a comprehensive, server-based platform for creating, managing and delivering reports to employees throughout the enterprise. Reporting Services augments SQL Server’s business intelligence capabilities by adding rich report reporting functionality, allowing business users to receive real-time production reporting to help make better decisions every day.

“SQL Server Reporting Services extends Microsoft’s business intelligence platform by making more real-time information available to more employees in an organization,”
says Brian Biglin, product manager for SQL Server Business Intelligence at Microsoft.
“Employees can subscribe to personalized reports that help them get the information they need to make fast, more accurate decisions. With this technology, Microsoft is helping organizations be more agile and responsive.”

More Information, Better Decisions

All employees need timely information with which to make decisions. Generally, information workers spend as much as 80 percent of their time gathering information for decision making, leaving only 20 percent for making and acting upon decisions. In the past, such information requests required significant IT and development resources, making it difficult for the reporting technology to keep pace with the needs of the business cost-effectively. When a custom report isn’t an option, information workers are often forced to use
reports which don’t always provide the specific information needed.

SQL Server Reporting Services makes flexible, customized reports available to a broad base of information workers, as well as to executives and analysts. IT organizations are able to create a centrally managed reporting and analysis environment, and provide developers with robust report development tools for building and deploying custom reporting solutions to the entire enterprise. Information workers can subscribe to reports and receive them — via a Web browser, through any Microsoft Office System application, or embedded within line-of-business applications — enabling better, faster, more relevant decisions at a lower cost than competing solutions.

“By leveraging the tools and applications that information workers use every day, organizations are better able to use corporate information assets to increase competitive advantage,”
Biglin says.
“The new Reporting Services addition to Microsoft’s business intelligence platform will help provide a better return on investment, due to a lower cost of ownership and because more people can access needed information.”

Relational Reporting Critical

ProClarity, a Boise, Idaho-based software company that provides a front-end business intelligence solution for Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, is excited about SQL Server Reporting Services and what it will bring to its customers.
“Reporting Services will benefit our customers since Microsoft and ProClarity will be able to provide an all-inclusive reporting and best-of-breed analysis solution, which limits the number of vendors needed for a complete business intelligence solution,”
explains Jim Stone, director of product marketing at ProClarity.
“We anticipate that SQL Server Reporting Services will be a world-class reporting solution; our customers are really looking forward to it.”

Adds Clay Young, vice president of marketing for ProClarity,
“Reporting Services is a much more cost-effective solution for our customers than competitive reporting offerings. Most importantly, because it’s part of Microsoft’s business intelligence platform, it integrates seamlessly with our tools, providing our customers with a comprehensive reporting and analysis solution that’s very easy to implement.”

SQL Server Reporting Services augments SQL Server’s existing ad-hoc analytical (OLAP) capabilities, found in SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services, to provide more in-depth, real-time information. For example, a company can use SQL Server Reporting Services to create a snapshot-style report of their sales representative’s performance over the past year, with a detailed listing of the monthly sales transactions that went into the numbers. Because the report is tied to the latest information in the database, the sales representative always has the most current data available for existing customers and sales-order status.

“ProClarity and Analysis Services is vital for helping decision makers navigate, synthesize and understand data, while reporting is important for providing details on the data and presenting static snapshots of the data,”
continues Stone.
“The ProClarity Analytics Server allows organizations to publish briefing books — a collection of views — onto a server for centralized access to analytical information. With Reporting Services, reports can also be published to the central server, making both relational and OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) reports available to a broad range of users.”

Multiple Report Types

SQL Server Reporting Services meets a wide range of reporting needs:

  • Enterprise reporting. Internal IT organizations can use SQL Server Reporting Services to extend their own business intelligence or line-of-business solutions. They can easily embed SQL Server Reporting Services into an existing application, such as an order-processing or sales system, to quickly add a robust reporting capability. Corporate developers or power users can design a variety of reports that pull data from a central data warehouse or operational system and deploy them to individuals throughout the enterprise. This allows users to select the reports and parameters they want to receive, through a subscription model, e-mail, or a corporate portal.

  • Embedded reports. Independent software vendors (ISVs) can embed SQL Server Reporting Services in their own business intelligence or line-of-business applications. Their end-customer’s IT organization can access these reports as is, or use SQL Server Reporting Services to customize reports, or create new ones for specific business needs. For the ISV, SQL Server Reporting Services offers a simplified way to embed flexible, interactive reports in an application.

  • Web-based reports. Because SQL Server Reporting Services are written as an XML-based Web service, IT organizations can easily embed reports in any application and make them available to users over any Web interface. The Web model allows organizations to make reports available to customers and partners over an extranet, isolating these audiences from the complexity of the underlying data sources while providing personalized, interactive access to data that’s critical to their own decisions.

Support for Complete Reporting Life Cycle

SQL Server Reporting Services supports the full reporting life cycle, including authoring, management and delivery of reports. Developers can easily build custom applications by using the Web services interface. SQL Server Reporting Services supports a wide range of data sources, including OLE DB and ODBC, as well as multiple output formats including Web browsers and Microsoft Office System applications. Using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, developers can connect to custom data sources, produce additional output formats and deliver to more devices.

SQL Server Reporting Services also includes comprehensive functionality for managing reports in a wide variety of environments. Report Manager is a Web-based tool for managing reports as a Web service. Managed reports can be executed either on demand or on a specified schedule, and are cached for consistency and performance. Security can be tailored to meet a variety of needs. Users may be granted access to run reports on demand or tailor individual report subscriptions. Administrators can delegate content management functions to specific individuals for different reports.

SQL Server Reporting Services supports both on-demand (pull) and event-based (push) delivery of reports. Reports can be delivered to a portal, e-mailed or accessed via a Web-based application. Navigation and search features help users locate and run the reports they need. Personalized subscriptions let them select the rendering formats and schedules they prefer.

Enterprise Infrastructure

Because SQL Server Reporting Services is a server-based, rather than a client-based, reporting solution, it provides enterprise-caliber scalability, reliability and availability. Organizations can create reporting server farms capable of handling thousands of Web-based clients accessing the same core reports. The product’s modular, Web-based design scales easily for high-volume environments.

Works with Any Data Source

Microsoft is working with industry partners to create an XML-based report definition language (RDL) that would standardize the way the industry defines a report. This would allow interoperability among vendors, whether they produce the XML-based information or consume it. The ISV community has reacted enthusiastically to developing such a standard language.

MIS AG, the leading European provider of business intelligence solutions for planning, reporting, consolidation, and analysis, is one such vendor lined up behind RDL. Explains Michael Danninger, chief technology officer of the company, based in Darmstadt, Germany,
“MIS and Microsoft share a common vision of bringing business intelligence to the desktop of every decision-maker. Reporting Services is a major step in implementing this goal. With RDL, Microsoft defines a powerful standard for exchanging reports — and ultimately promoting collaboration — among different applications.”

MIS will release a new version of its MIS PLAIN reporting product that currently supports SQL Server Analysis Services and will integrate the RDL standard to leverage the added benefits of SQL Server Reporting Services for finance users. These individuals will be able to access daily standard reports as well as to drill down on individual data points within those reports for extremely detailed, up-to-date background data.

“RDL will support us in developing collaborative, best-of-breed BI strategies for our customers,”
Danninger says.
“In addition to securing interoperability in heterogeneous IT environments, RDL will promote an easier implementation and faster deployment of analytic applications.”

SQL Server Reporting Services works with any OLE DB or ODBC-compliant data source. The product’s extensive Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable developers to quickly and economically integrate reporting with legacy systems and third-party applications. And SQL Server Reporting Services integrates easily with Microsoft products and tools such as Microsoft Office System applications and SharePoint Portal Server, without programming and customization. Using a single, integrated, all-Microsoft platform helps controls costs and speeds deployment.

“SQL Server Reporting Services makes organizations more productive and agile by increasing developer, end user, and IT productivity,”
Microsoft’s Biglin says.
“It’s an economical reporting solution, because it leverages existing corporate data resources, databases, and applications while making those resources available to far more people. It’s a dependable solution because of its enterprise server foundation. And it allows information workers to realize their potential by accessing current business data that supports fast, smart decisions.”

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