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What a pity.   I’ve spent some time recently evaluating SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services with respect to its proposed use on a UK public sector project that will implement a part of the 'national infrastructure'.   In every respect but one, Reporting Services provides an excellent fit for the stated requirements.   There is already a commitment to using SQL Server, and SharePoint, within the project, so Reporting Services appears the way to go.

What is the exception?   Well, Reporting Services provides a nice little tool called 'Report Builder' for creation, amongst other things, of ad hoc reports.   This is a user-friendly little gizmo that can be downloaded directly from the portal via Microsoft's excellent ClickOnce technology.   ClickOnce ensures that the application is installed in a sandboxed fashion under the current user's profile, and does not interfere with other installations for other users.

All good stuff, except that the proposed system needs to provide ad hoc reporting facilities to a number of different agencies across the UK.   Oh, and it must be formally accredited by the security people before it can go live.   It turns out that there is no prospect that they will agree to installation of any software on client desktops at those agencies.  Not even using ClickOnce.   It’s out of the question.

SAP offers a similar toolset to Reporting Services, but they have a tool for designing ad hoc reports that is entirely browser-based and has zero footprint on the client.

Mmmm.   Time for the Microsoft SQL Server product team to meet Ajax, methinks.

Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 11:47 AM | Back to top


Comments on this post: A proposed introduction...

# re: A proposed introduction...
Requesting Gravatar...
Maybe we'll get the web based tool in RS 2010. Considering how much better Report Builder is for 2008 vs 2005, it wouldn't surprise me.

It would be a shame to not be able to use Reporting Services so perhaps there could be an internal site that users send thier reports to for approval by the appropriate administrator. That person could then push the report live after whatever approvals are received.

there is also the ability to lock down a folder so only certain people can see it. While the report would technically be "live" no one could see it but the person who needed to approve the report. The it would be a matter of simply moving the report to a public folder.
Left by Cliff Buckley on Sep 24, 2009 6:03 AM

# re: A proposed introduction...
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Thanks Cliff. The security model in Reporting Services is a good fit with our requirements and will let us lock down, and open up, data in accordance with requirements. I'll take on board your ideas about approval. This could prove a useful approach in certain scenarios.

The issue for us is that it is not aceptable to the powers-that-be for a national system to require a footprint on local desktops. Hence we won't be able to depend on Report Builder for ad hoc reporting.

I've fairly confident we will still use Reporting Services. However, ad hoc reporting at the local level is going to be a challenge, and more money will have to be throw at this than was originally anticipated. I just want to reflect back to the SQL Server product team that they have a gap in their offering that their competitors have been careful to fill.
Left by Charles Young on Sep 24, 2009 7:25 AM

# re: A proposed introduction...
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An Adhoc reporting tool could be Excel ?
Left by anon on Sep 30, 2009 2:14 PM

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