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Microsoft SQL Server as a platform for BI

Microsoft SQL Server as a platform for BI

SQL Server offers many options, much more than most users know. In this article we take a closer look at SQL Server as a comprehensive data platform. When you ask an IT professional what is Microsoft SQL Server? Then the most common answer is: “a database server”. That’s a shame because it’s so much more!

Reporting services

Reporting Services or rather SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is available from Standard Edition. When this service is installed, you have the option to develop reports from a low level of knowledge that you offer to the organization via a built-in web portal.

Web portal SSRS

The experienced BI developer can also indulge themselves with the option of customizing reports. It is possible to offer reports to be executed ad-hoc, but a report can also be scheduled to be sent at fixed times. There is also the option to save reports in various formats, for example on a network location. If you want the stock and sales figures in the financial director’s inbox every Monday – you can. You set this up once and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Reports are mobile supported from version 2016 and can be sized well on any device.

Example of a mobile report

Power BI

Another tool that is valuable for BI is Power BI. What is the difference between Reporting Services and Power BI? Both tools have similar capabilities. Power BI is particularly suitable for dashboards: screens that show at a glance, for example, a KPI with drill-through functionalities.
Reporting Services is particularly suitable for paginated reports.

PowerBI also has a free version that contains all visualizations compared to the paid version. If there is a need to share dashboards, PowerBI Pro is a more suitable platform. In this version, SSRS is seamlessly integrated. So an upgrade from Reporting Services to Power BI is easy to do.

Importance of tooling

An intelligent organization is partly formed by creating reports based on combining data from different sources. An ETL tool is often used for this, also called a data broker. There are plenty of such ETL (extract, transform & load) tools on offer for thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of euros. The purchase of such a tool is not necessary, because SQL Server Standard Edition has had the extremely versatile ETL tool Integration Service (SSIS) for many years! Sources can be databases from other suppliers, but text files such as XML, EDIFACT, web services and FTP sites are also suitable. Integration Services has the possibility to communicate with the above sources by means of a graphical interface and can be arranged in detail. Do you want a seamless link between your customer’s sales system and your ERP system? It’s possible with SSIS!

With the capabilities of SQL Server you have a powerful and mature platform to make your BI organization mature. With SQL Server you can take your organization from understanding to coordinating to improving to innovating.,
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