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Roadmap for SSRS from SQL2012 to SQL2014 and beyond? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi there,

    We are the authors of a web application that has grown over a number of years and serves a lot of corporate clients, each client with a lot of users all authenticating to our single application instance.

    We integrated to SSRS 2008 to provide a mechanism whereby we could publish application reports for the clients to run, but also give them a self service reporting portal and access to reporting tools for the more sophisticated users. This has made us very dependent on:

    - SSRS custom authentication, so the users log into our application only once and then are authorized to run reports from SSRS. This took some time to get working, but is serving its purpose well.

    - SSRS Report Manager. We have quite an elaborate folder structure in Report Manager reflecting all of the different clients and the reports they have created for their own use. Again, Report Manager is serving this purpose well. In conjunction with custom authentication, we have good control over which users should have access to which reports/folders/functionality.

    - Report Builder. We still have some novice users running Report Builder 1.0, and some more sophisticated users running Report Builder 2012. We have all become familiar with these tools and are quite satisfied with them.

    - Report Models. From the outset, we needed to expose a simple data model to users that they could use for basic reporting with only HTTP access to the site, without all of the security and performance issues of requiring/allowing people to write T-SQL queries. Report Models have also been quite suitable for this, albeit with some limitations that have caught us out (such as difficulties doing a LEFT JOIN type query).

    With all the recent upheaval related to Power BI, Power View requiring Silverlight and SharePoint, Report Builder fading into the background, more focus placed on Excel for self-service reporting, and more focus placed on Office 365/Azure, this has left us in a bit of a hole.

    Dropping support for Report Models is likely to be the biggest issue for us. We have been using them for many years, and our users have created thousands and thousands of purpose-built reports based on the models. It's not feasible for us as developers to painstakingly recreate their reports against some other data source (SSAS tabular model?), and it's going to be a public relations disaster if we have to tell the users they need to throw away all that work they've done building their reports based on report models and start again from scratch.

    The way forward for us with Microsoft is not clear at present, and rather than continue to pour money and time into Microsoft BI, we have to consider going with other tools that have a more predictable vision, better backward compatibility, a better migration path, and require less investment in bulky platforms that provide little added value but drastically increase the cost of ownership. Azure may be part of this puzzle, but we need to know we can transition into it without throwing away our existing investment in reporting.

    If I could write a wishlist of things that would sway us, it would be:

    - Continued support and enhancement for Report Models on both the server side, and the development tooling. Preferably, better support for custom authentication, dynamic security rules in the model perhaps by allowing the model to accept parameters.

    - If not the above, then a simple migration tool or compatibility wrapper to allow us to preserve existing functionality while building upon it with Microsoft Power BI tools.

    - The ability to use Power View, newer visualization tools, self-service reporting, sharing of reports, publishing of reports, scheduling of reports without the need for SharePoint.

    - If not the above, then access to this functionality via Azure so we are not maintaining SharePoint exclusively to provide some reporting capability for our application.

    - The ability to use our application's own authentication mechanism to flow single sign-on authorization through into SSRS. I'm not opposed to using some form of Active Directory or .NET membership here, as long as we can preserve the ability for us to authenticate users with their existing usernames and passwords into both our application and SSRS.

    - Continued support and enhancement of Report Builder. I'd be happier paying a per-user subscription fee to keep Report Builder alive than trying to force all our novice users into Excel with clunky add-ins.

    - The ability for users to access summarized data such as that exposed via an SSAS multi-dimensional cube but designing reports using the familiar Report Builder interface over an HTTP connection, with a consistent security mechanism. In particular we use a lot of "time intelligence" type dimensions.

    I'm sure Power BI is quite enticing for a new project, but remember that not all of your customers are building a new application from scratch with massive graphic/video/social media or "internet of things" type data volumes. We are simply trying to maintain an existing project with modest transactional business data requirements we built with the tools you gave us.

    I would be happy to hear from Riccardo Muti or anyone from the SSRS team for an update on this. I note it's been 9 months since the last SSRS blog post at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlrsteamblog/. This makes me worry that the team has either been disbanded, or has been busy working on something that's going to take us by surprise because they haven't put the necessary effort into communicating with us.

    I look forward to a response from MS.

    Thanks,

    Michael

    Tuesday, September 9, 2014 11:26 PM

All replies

  • Hi Michael,

    Thank you for your post.

    After reading the long post, I understand your feeling and how frustrated when you find those issues. So, it is my pleasure to help you to reflect your recommendation to the proper department for their consideration. Please feel free to submit your situation on our product to the following link https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/. Your feedback is valuable for us to improve our products and increase the level of service provided.

    Thank you for your understanding.

    Regards,
    Katherine Xiong


    Katherine Xiong
    TechNet Community Support

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014 7:30 AM
  • Hi Katherine,

    Okay, I've submitted feedback to Microsoft Connect here:

    https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedbackdetail/view/968962

    Michael

    Thursday, September 11, 2014 1:02 AM
  • Thank you Michael for taking the time to express your concerns and thoughts.  You have articulated a number of my concerns which l believe like you have not been addressed by Microsoft publicly.

    Whilst l can see considerable benefit in all the work that has been put into Power BI.  The tool still falls short of a number of features and capabilities offered by SSRS.  As such is not a possible alternative for the reports we currently deliver or will deliver in the foreseeable future.

    The feedback on connect has been closed therefore l have few options to express my feedback.  In the comments left l can see "Details for the next release are available under NDA through a sales representative."  This is somewhat cryptic to me in that l also have no idea how to contact a sales representative or for that matter ensure l contact the correct sales representative.  Based on feedback from a previous clients interaction with other MS sales representative's, its best to ensure l speak to the one that knows this product, with sufficient technical knowledge.  Any guidance on how to contact the appropriate sales representative would be very welcome.
    Friday, November 28, 2014 4:09 PM
  • Hi Bob,

    I'm glad ours is not the only project in this predicament!

    We did end up getting a meeting with some Microsoft guys to discuss this through our relationship with our hosting partner, an MS Service Provider.

    We're still not much more enlightened about the future of SSRS at this point and will be exploring other options, but have not reached a firm conclusion yet.

    Like you, in its current state I doubt we could move ahead with Power BI.

    Rather than calling helpdesks my suggestion would be to try and reach someone a bit more senior in the MS hierarchy through your regional office or something.

    Good luck!

    Michael

    Tuesday, December 2, 2014 10:31 PM
  • Good morning thanks for your reply, good to at least you got some news.  Last week l had a conversation with one of our senior staff and l hope that l might be able to reach someone a little more senior in the MS hierarchy as you suggest.

    Like you l feel that there is no other alternatives than to consider other options.  Which is a huge disappointment for me personally.  When l did a quick training session on Report Builder yesterday, l realised that my session must make sound like a massive MS fanboy!!  The same when l talk to people about Power BI its a great tool I'm really excited to see how it develops and matures.

    Would be nice if SSRS could connect to a BISM model, guess l can dream :->  Even if that was a plan NDA would no doubt apply never mind time-scales.  As you have also said Michael looking at other alternatives seems to be the only way to go at least just now :-(
    Wednesday, December 3, 2014 8:47 AM
  • At least l found answer to one of my questions - SSRS to BISM model -> http://sqlblog.com/blogs/marco_russo/archive/2014/05/21/write-dax-queries-in-report-builder-ssrs-dax-ssas-tabular.aspx 

    Hmm not quite the polished interface l was hoping for *sigh*  Nor something l could expect a reporting novice to find their way around :-(

    Wednesday, December 3, 2014 9:18 AM