Looking for a pretty but powerful visualization tool

    General discussion

  • Hello,

    I need help in finding the right BI reporting tool for my company.

    I work for a data integration services and analysis solutions company. We use typically use SSAS for analytics with SQL server backend. I am looking for a BI reporting tool. 

    We do not wish to develop our own BI /reporting tools, but use our already developed cubes  to create reports. We also would like to provide real time interactive dashboards, real time reports integrated with sql server. Also, somethign like BO where you have to build your own universe is not an option. We want it to be as simple as possible.

    I have been using SSRS for a very long time now, but I want something that has more visualization capabilities, pretty along with the basic reporting features. These are a few of my requirements.


    • Should be able to pull data from:
      • SQL Server
      • SQL Server OLAP (SSAS)
      • Oracle
      • MySql
      • Real Time reports with SQL stream insight


    • Deploy reports on a centralized server:
      • Multiple clients should be able to access the web based reports deployed on a single report server instance from a remote location/ and or from the network without having to install client on his machine.
    • Report should look good and easy to navigate on any mobile device like tablet, smart phones, etc.
    • Licensing for Server, development tools(client) (details and cost)
    • Ability to create:
      • Interactive Dashboards ( pull from real time sources as well as snap shots)
      • Real Time interactive dashboards
      • Parameterized Reports
      • Drill down and Drill Through
      • Line, Pie, bar charts, etc.
      • Different Trendlines including Linear trendlines (SSRS doesnt have this)
      • Link reports
      • Tag Clouds, other visualization aspects.
    • SSRS like (basic reporting) features
      • Tablix and matrix reports , ability to create calculated members in the reports, add total rows and columns, average,etc
      • Custom formatting of each data element, etc.
        • Role based security that determines access to various items
        • Schedules and caching of reports: To reduce query timing


    • Ad Hoc reports:
      • User should be able to make changes to the reports easily. Will this require the client or development solution to be installed on each user machine who needs to change the reports?
    • Maintain  the central master style of the report:
      • Something similar to CSS , where we can copy styles from one report to another. Any change to the master style, will be reflected in all the reports using that style.
    • Maintain shared data sources, datasets, etc
    • Display OLAP cubes in a web browser like interface:
      • This is where the user could slice and dice similar to pivot tables, but instead of maintaining excel sheets, user could do it in a web browser.
        • Build OLAP in report?
        • Display existing SSAS OLAP in a web browser?
    • Integration with GIS

    I realize not all of these features would be satisfied, and we are open to buying multiple tools too. Please give me some options.

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013 6:53 PM

All replies

  • Right now, I think the best SSAS front end on the market, hands down, is Tableau.

    I don't work for Tableau, I just love their product :)

    Tableau, with underlying cubes can perform most of your requirements. For tabular, corporate style canned reports, SSRS is still the best option. 

    I notice you've asked for style sheet style support in a reporting tool. That has been asked for in Reporting Services for several versions now. IMHO I would still hang onto Reporting Services despite the lack of 'master page' style branding. 

    Excel is also a brilliant tool. Given that it is already deployed in most places it makes sense to leverage it as much as possible. Users know it, and it is really becoming more and more a part of Microsoft's BI strategy going forwards. 

    Thanks! Josh

    Monday, August 12, 2013 10:32 AM
  • Josh is right. At the min Tableau is the best SSAS on the market

    However over the next 10 to 20 years Excel will get many upgrades as Microsoft's BI strategy over the next 20 year + involves Excel in a big way. 

    Add to that Excels reporting capabilities, charting  capabilities, and low file format sizes it a win all round. Low format sizes mean faster opening times & less hardship for the server your storing the reports on.

    And seen as Excel is very common all over the world, everyone knows how to use it which is a big plus when it come to scaling up your reports.

    I've used SSRS for a long time but find myself moving to Excel more & more.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013 9:47 AM