MSSQL Server Reporting Services : Black Belt Administration: Execution Log Performance and Audit Reports

February 22, 2005

About the Series ...

This article is a member of the series MSSQL Server 2000 Reporting Services. The series is designed to introduce MSSQL Server 2000 Reporting Services ("Reporting Services"), with the objective of presenting an overview of its features, together with many tips and techniques for real-world use. For more information on the series, as well as the hardware / software requirements to prepare for the exercises we will undertake, please see my initial Database Journal article, A New Paradigm for Enterprise Reporting.

Basic assumptions underlying the series are that you have correctly installed Reporting Services, including Service Pack 1, along with the applications upon which it relies, and that you have access and the other rights / privileges required to complete the steps we undertake in my articles. For details on the specifics of the adjustments necessary to quickly allow full freedom to complete the exercises in this and subsequent articles, as well as important assumptions regarding rights and privileges in general, please see earlier articles in the series, as well as the Reporting Services Books Online.

This article also relies upon sample files that are not automatically installed along with Reporting Services. If the samples have not been installed in, or were removed from, your environment, the samples can be found on the Reporting Services installation CD. We will discuss accessing these files within the steps of our practice session.

About the BlackBelt Articles ...

As we have stated in earlier BlackBelt articles, one of the greatest challenges in writing tutorial / procedural articles is creating each article to be a freestanding document that is complete unto itself. This is important, because it means that readers can complete the lesson without reference to previous articles or access to objects created elsewhere. When our objective is the coverage of a specific technique surrounding one or more components of a report, a given administrative function surrounding all reports, and other scenarios where the focus of the session is not the creation of reports, per se, can be challenging because a report or reports often has to be in place before we can begin to cover the material with which the article concerns itself.

The BlackBelt articles represent an attempt to minimize the setup required in simply getting to a point within an article where we can actually perform hands-on practice with the component(s) under consideration. We will attempt to use existing report samples or other "prefabricated" objects that either come along as part of the installation of the applications involved, or that are readily accessible to virtually any organization that has installed the application. While we will often have to make modifications to the sample involved (we will actually create a copy, to allow the original sample to remain intact), to refine it to provide the backdrop we need to proceed with the object or procedure upon which we wish to concentrate, we will still save a great deal of time and distraction in getting to our objective. In some cases, we will have to start from scratch with preparation, but my intention with the BlackBelt articles will be to avoid this, if at all possible.

NOTE: The practice example we undertake in this article represents an infrequent exception to the "freestanding" objective. To complete the steps we describe in this article, you will need to have prepared for it by completing the steps detailed in the immediately preceding article in the series, Prepare the Execution Log for Reporting.

For more information about the BlackBelt articles, see the section entitled "About the BlackBelt Articles" in BlackBelt Components: Manage Nulls in OLAP Reports.

Overview

We introduced our previous article, Prepare the Execution Log for Reporting, with a discussion about a valuable source of information for performance and auditing analysis, identifying the Report Server Execution Log as a great place to start for this sort of reporting. We noted that the Execution Log captures data specific to individual reports, including when a given report was run, identification of the user who ran it, delivery destination of the report, and which rendering format was used, among other information.

After discussing the nature of Execution Logging in general, we touched upon several of the ways in which it can assist us in understanding the performance of our reports, the actions of users, and a host of other details about the reports we create in Reporting Services. Working within a practice example where we responded to the expressed business needs of a hypothetical group of information consumers, we then performed transformation of the data in the Execution Log to a user-friendly reporting data source. We used the tools provided as samples with the Reporting Services installation to create and populate a MSSQL Server database, noting several of the benefits that would accrue to the information consumers. For the detailed steps we undertook, and to prepare to accomplish the steps of this article, please see Prepare the Execution Log for Reporting.

Our focus in this article will be an examination of some of the uses to which the new Execution Log database might be put. Our examination will consist of hands-on publication of the sample reports provided with Reporting Services as a "starter set;" and then go beyond that set and create a customized report to show the ease with which we might help the information consumers we support to meet general and specific needs. We will propose other considerations that will add value to this already rich resource, and discuss ways in which we can leverage Execution Log reporting to make us better report writers from multiple perspectives.

In this session we will:

  • Review the hypothetical business requirements behind the procedures in this and the preceding article;
  • Review the Execution Log reporting database we created in our last lesson, focusing on its schema and the information it contains;
  • Review possible value-adds that come with Execution Log reporting;
  • Make copies of the sample report set provided with Reporting Services in a convenient location;
  • Upload the sample report copies, for execution within Report Manager;
  • Customize a copy of a popular report, to meet extended business requirements from the information consumers group.







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