Microsoft BI Review

It offers high performance & low cost BI solutions with ability to integrate with other third party tools.

Valuable Features:

Microsoft SSRS biggest advantage is its ability to integrate with other third party components. You could integrate it with Share Point web part or you can access it from a Web browser, depending on your existing scenario you don’t need to change much to be able to integrate SSRS with your existing application. Microsoft SSAS offers low cost BI solutions comparing with IBM Cognos, licensing for SSAS is core-based or you could opt for server + CAL-based license which is very low in comparison with IBM Cognos. Microsoft SSRS & SSAS suite is uncompromising when it comes to performance. It provides very high performance and it could be connected to many different data sources. It requires very less time to build Microsoft SSRS & SSAS solution.

Room for Improvement:

Microsoft SSRS is unable to provide a mechanism where poor performance reports could be prevented to run on production environment. In case if a user creates a report which can cause huge impact on server resources / performance it should not be allowed to run on production server during normal working hours. Alternative that is provided is to use subscription option to deliver reports to particular directory or email them at scheduled time (preferably non-working hours).Microsoft SSRS does not offer any interoperability with Andriod or iPad at this time (need to consider this if you are planning to develop reports for these environments) Microsoft SSRS & SSAS suite is very easy to configure and maintain. You don’t need any license if you are looking to try out Microsoft SSRS; you can simply download and use Microsoft SQL Server Express (with Advanced Services). You can create dashboards, drill through reports, charts, graphs, maps, dynamic grouping using Microsoft SSRS.

Other Advice:

It offers a very vibrant MSDN community along with Microsoft support staff for assistance.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Add a Comment

author avatarit_user7659 (Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees)

Hello Hasham,

Regarding your comment about poorly performing reports...wanted to make you aware that SSRS has a query timeout setting at the system level, which can be modified for individual reports as well. In addition to the subscription alternative you mentioned, additional alternatives include caching and snapshots. You can also query the report execution log for which reports are taking long to query and/or render & take the opportunity to tune them. (I realize reviewing logs is after the fact, which I think was your main point to begin with, but it can help with protecting the production server.)


author avatarit_user4014 (Developer at a tech consulting company with 51-200 employees)

HI Melissa !

I am already aware of the Report query timeout setting, but still you might agree with me sometimes due to heavy load on server some Reports that work perfectly fine, took longer time to render. So as a developer you don't want to put very short time out limit on each & every Report, also you might never know when some of the Reports start slowing down only for just 5 - 10 mins. and then came back to normal. I know SSRS has execution Log table called, ExecutionLog, ExecutionLog2 & ExectuionLog3, if we analyze these tables we will identify the Reports that are taking much longer than a usual render time. We can then set the timeout settings for these reports.

I have been in database optimization & SSRS report optimization where i see cases where one Report is running perfectly for one environment while it might take longer in other environment with totally similar configurations. The culprit most of the time is query optimizer where on one server its able to identify the plan perfectly while on other server it took long enough to identify the plan or not choose the best optimal plan. For such scenarios it’s hard for a developer to basically put timeout settings for Reports to say like 5 min or 10 min. if the normal render time of Report is like 15 min. Let's suppose if we put the query time out settings to 15 min. for that particular report, still user have to wait for 15 min. before they knew that due to some issue their Report is not going to render. I have seen Financial Reports which have 100 of pages with complex grouping that will take around 20 or even 30 mins. to render completely on the browser. We are talking about distributed environment here where your database is on one server and multiple facilities can have access to this data from remote locations depending upon their security setting defined in your Database Model.

So my point is, SSRS should be smart enough to know that if report contains billions of rows that are not going to render on a browser, it should stop the report for being in running mode for 15 - 20 mins. and then giving an error prompt, it should stopped the report before making an call to the database. Ideally it should check if the COUNT(*) of rows is greater than this much it can't handle these much rows, then no call made to database for whole report.

Hasham Niaz

author avatarit_user1068 (Tech Support Staff at a tech company with 1,001-5,000 employees)

Microsoft BI provides excellent performance and affordable BI solutions to all potential businesses that need top notch BI tools. Moreover, it can easily be integrated with existing platforms or infrastructure in the company or business seeking the service.

author avatarit_user110322 (IT Administrator)

I found Microsoft BI stack to be far better and it's "free" since it comes along with sql server. Since it is free people usually do not care much about its advantages but more loud about its disadvantages. SSRS is one of my favorite tools, it provide flexibility and good web support and strong AD integration for security. SSRS should not be running in the production server instance as it will kill your performance. Second, make sure it runs in a scale out manner (more than one server) based on total load. Third, change the memory setting in your SSRS configuration so that it can utilize more memory in the server rather than default, it will cut down the rendering. Fourth, never run big reports on the production server, find an alternative solution, if that's not possible then use resource governor so that your production database will not get the performance hit. Check query response time and actual query plan for long running reports match up with dba's performance baseline for that day.