We encounter a lot of companies searching for new business intelligence (BI) solutions, and lately we have spoken with many Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) users in pursuit of a BI tool that is easier to use. Microsoft SSRS is part of the suite received when you purchase Microsoft SQL Server. It was released in 2004 as an add-on to SQL Server 2008, and has been supported by Microsoft for 12 years. Though Microsoft SSRS isn’t the easiest solution to use, it can be beneficial when used in the right environment. Below we’ve outlined the pros and cons of Microsoft SSRS.
The Pros of Microsoft SSRS
Microsoft SSRS certainly has its strengths. The pros of Microsoft SSRS include:
Its Price is Right: Microsoft SSRS is free if you have Microsoft SQL Server, which is why so many companies use it. (However, the “free” price doesn’t include development time.)
It Can Do A Lot: Microsoft SSRS is a very robust tool that Microsoft has invested a lot of development into. Users have access to enterprise level features, including the ability to connect to many data sources and connectivity to Microsoft SQL, Oracle, and Excel, and more.
It’s Server Based: Unlike Crystal Reports, which is more of a desktop tool (unless you upgrade), Microsoft SSRS users can build, distribute, and access reports via the web.
It’s Built for Developers: Microsoft SSRS caters to developers and it works with other developer programs, such as Visual Studio and ADO.Net.
It Offers Report Subscriptions: Microsoft SSRS users can schedule reports to be delivered automatically out to users, which is helpful for users who run the same reports regularly.
It’s Well Supported: Microsoft SSRS has a huge support community, not only from Microsoft but its plethora of users worldwide.
The Cons of Microsoft SSRS
Though Microsoft SSRS can be a great tool in the right environment, it does have some drawbacks. These cons include:
It’s Built for Developers: Depending upon who you are, this aspect of Microsoft SSRS can be a huge con. In order to get the most out of the tool, users must know SQL code and SSRS-specific functions. Microsoft SSRS is not easily usable for the average business user.
It’s Resource Intensive: Microsoft SSRS can be resource intensive to use and can take up a lot of your server’s resources, especially when running large reports.
It only runs on Windows: Our product, Yurbi, only runs on Windows so we understand the limitation. Some companies simply do not want to bring a Windows server into their environment.
Separate Mobile Views: Extra work is required to build reports that run properly on mobile devices. SQL Server Mobile Publisher is required.
Its Interface is Outdated: Microsoft SSRS 2016 provided a lot of improvements in the interface, allowing views to display properly in most modern browsers and removing Active X components, but the visualizations are still basic and many are unable to upgrade due to the point below.
Difficult to Upgrade: They made this process easier with SSRS 2016 but many companies start a conversation with us when they see the effort needed to upgrade their version of SSRS and want to explore better options.
The Bottom Line
If you have a developer environment and are currently using Microsoft SQL Server, don’t have many new report requirements, or have very simple report requirements, Microsoft SSRS is a good BI solution. However, if you need a more agile and faster BI tool with dashboards that is easy for business users to use, Microsoft SSRS would not be a good fit. Microsoft SSRS can be used as a part of your overall BI toolkit, but will likely need to be complemented with an agile BI solution for non-developer environments.
Have you used Microsoft SSRS in the past or are using it currently? If so, leave a comment below! You can also contact us to learn more about how Microsoft SSRS compares with Yurbi.