MSSQL Server Reporting Services: A New Paradigm for Enterprise Reporting

About the Series …

This is the first of several articles of a new series, MSSQL
Server 2000 Reporting Services
. The series is designed to introduce
MSSQL Server 2000 Reporting Services ("Reporting Services"), with the
objective of giving a preview of its features, as well as sharing my conviction
in its role as a new paradigm in enterprise reporting. As I advise clients on a
more and more frequent basis these days, this is the future in a big way. I hope
you will consider my input valuable, and that you will investigate closely the
savings and advanced functionality that will soon be available to anyone with
an MSSQL Server 2000 (and beyond) license.

The
screen shots that appear in this series were taken from a Windows 2003 Server
upon which I have implemented Reporting Services Beta 2. The final release may
differ in appearance, as well as in the details of operation and general
functionality. Any Microsoft Office components that appear in the series are
members of the Office 2003 suite.

Introduction

I became a beta-tester of Reporting Services early in its
development, and rapidly concluded that this new MSSQL Server 2000 add-on would
literally change the face of enterprise reporting, as we know it today. Not
only does Reporting Services provide an integrated, end-to-end set of tools for
creating, managing, and viewing / delivering reports, but it does so with a
scalable engine that supports server-based hosting and processing of reports.
This is enterprise reporting at its finest, with several impressive advantages
over the current offerings in the enterprise business intelligence arena. Moreover,
the potential savings that await the implementing organizations could rank
right up there with those promised by the recent fads of outsourcing, among
other "follow the leader" activities so prevalent in business today.

As a recovering Certified Public
Accountant, who also holds credentials as a Certified Management Accountant and
Certified Internal Auditor, I spent several years dealing with reporting
systems from the perspective of an information consumer. I am now nearing ten
years in experience as a data architect and implementer of business
intelligence for many Fortune 500 organizations; I have, for most of that time,
worked daily with large enterprise reporting applications such as Cognos,
Business Objects, Crystal Enterprise and Crystal Analysis, MicroStrategy, and
divers other applications / combinations of applications.

To me,
the Reporting Services model paints a bright future for all roles in the
reporting life cycle, not only because an organization gets the entire solution
in one package, but because the solution is open and extensible, allowing
report authors, managers, and users at every level to benefit from familiar
tools and systems that are already in place. The solution is a part of the
Microsoft BI framework, and is the latest entry to a powerful family of tools that
includes a relational database (SQL Server), a powerful ETL tool (Data
Transformation Services), an OLAP engine for cube production (Microsoft
Analysis Services), and a formidable data-mining component, among other substantial
functionality. Needless to say, integration with Microsoft Office components
is a given.

In
this series of articles, I will share some of my insights and discoveries as I
work with Reporting Services, in hopes of shedding more light on the practical
realities I find. I will do this from the viewpoint of a practitioner who has
worked closely and repeatedly with many BI products, comparing functionalities
between some of these, and the new Reporting Services offerings. To kick the
effort off, we will begin with a discussion of the phases of the reporting
cycle as presented in the Reporting Services model, and then continue our
coming articles with an overview of Reporting Services from the perspective of
each of these phases.

William Pearson
William Pearson
Bill has been working with computers since before becoming a "big eight" CPA, after which he carried his growing information systems knowledge into management accounting, internal auditing, and various capacities of controllership. Bill entered the world of databases and financial systems when he became a consultant for CODA-Financials, a U.K. - based software company that hired only CPA's as application consultants to implement and maintain its integrated financial database - one of the most conceptually powerful, even in his current assessment, to have emerged. At CODA Bill deployed financial databases and business intelligence systems for many global clients. Working with SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase and Informix, and focusing on MSSQL Server, Bill created Island Technologies Inc. in 1997, and has developed a large and diverse customer base over the years since. Bill's background as a CPA, Internal Auditor and Management Accountant enable him to provide value to clients as a liaison between Accounting / Finance and Information Services. Moreover, as a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) - a Certified Public Accountant recognized for his or her unique ability to provide business insight by leveraging knowledge of information relationships and supporting technologies - Bill offers his clients the CPA's perspective and ability to understand the complicated business implications and risks associated with technology. From this perspective, he helps them to effectively manage information while ensuring the data's reliability, security, accessibility and relevance. Bill has implemented enterprise business intelligence systems over the years for many Fortune 500 companies, focusing his practice (since the advent of MSSQL Server 2000) upon the integrated Microsoft business intelligence solution. He leverages his years of experience with other enterprise OLAP and reporting applications (Cognos, Business Objects, Crystal, and others) in regular conversions of these once-dominant applications to the Microsoft BI stack. Bill believes it is easier to teach technical skills to people with non-technical training than vice-versa, and he constantly seeks ways to graft new technology into the Accounting and Finance arenas. Bill was awarded Microsoft SQL Server MVP in 2009. Hobbies include advanced literature studies and occasional lectures, with recent concentration upon the works of William Faulkner, Henry James, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Honoré de Balzac, and Charles Dickens. Other long-time interests have included the exploration of generative music sourced from database architecture.

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