There was a time with Microsoft BI when the only thing we really had at our disposal was Reporting Services. This was quite some time ago. But when all we had was reporting services we used it for EVERYTHING. We used it for Dashboards, Reports, Exploration, End-User reporting and so on.
We have more choices now. What comes with choice is more complexity in making choices. The more options we have, the harder it becomes to choose the “best” option.
As I go through my assessment of where Power View really fits vs. other tools, I just want to highlight that others may have a different viewpoint. Just as it’s possible to get across town in Europe in a large bus, my suggestion is that it might not always be the “right” or “best” option.
The primary tools that we’re going to employ in a Microsoft BI solution will be Reporting Services, Power View, Excel, Excel Services and PerformancePoint services.
Let’s look at each of these in terms of some common use cases and design objectives.
The first is the traditional reporting metaphor. By this I mean reports that are designed organizationally and planned and delivered to users with the intent that the users will do little else than to view the report, select some filters and maybe print the reports. If this is your use case, probably reporting services is going to be your tool of choice. It provides the most centralized control compared to the other solutions that are on this slide.
If your goal is a high degree of customization–maybe you’d like to put C# programming code into a report to have some custom things going on or you’d like to control the queries to the back-end data source, Reporting SErvices again is probably your primary choice. PerformancePoint services is probably the secondary choice since it provides a fair amount of control over the queries that are sent to the back-end database.
For high fidelity printing, Reporting Services, Power View and Excel will give you the best quality print on a printer. Excel Services “sort of”, but with Excel Services if you print from the browser you’ll get a browser print, which is suboptimal. If your users have Excel and can take a copy then print that to printer they’ll get excellent results.
Push Subscriptions — reports that are run automatically and e-mailed to users or put into SharePoint folders or File Shares. Reporting Services is the only tool on this slide that provides that functionality. The same for data driven alerting–a new feature in Reporting Services 2012 that allows alerts to be sent out based on matching conditions in the data in reports. Reporting Services is the only tool that provides this functionality.
If you want to give end users direct access to the data model to explore data, Power View and Excel are the clear best choices Power View from the standpoint of highly visual orientation; Excel more o a pivot table orientation. Depending on your needs, pick one or the other (or both).
PerformancePoint has very good capabilities in this area as well. PerformancePoint exploration tends to be a little more constrained around the original report as designed by someone else, so I’ll give it a second choice, but it’s definitely a tool to look at for this use case.
For end user orientation, Excel and Power View are certainly the most end-user orientated tools. These are the tools that the IT department or reporting specialist will have the least amount of involvement in when supporting users to explore and access data.
For composite dashboards…that’s really the primary use case for PerformancePoint services.
If your requirements call for web browser-based reporting, any of these tools will work fairly well. Excel, of course, is an end-user application that must be installed on the desktop. Excel Services provides the web browser based version o Excel documents.
For mobile devices, your first choice is probably still going to be Reporting Services reports, because all that customization you can do helps target content to mobile devices. Excel Services and PerformancePoint services do a fairly good job too since SharePoint can render content to mobile devices. However these products weren’t really designed with mobile devices in mind so there are some compromises when delivering content to mobile.
To use Power View, Excel Services or PerformancePoint Services you will need to license SharePoint Enterprise Edition. Power View requires SQL Server Enterprise Edition or the SQL Server BI Edition.
In terms of data export, Reporting Services probably has the most options for exporting report data into other formats like PDF, Word, Excel, ASCII files and so on. Excel also has many export capabilities using the “File/Save As…” menu. Power View has export to PowerPoint, which fits its slid metaphor extremely well.
Excel Services and PerformancePoint Services each have “export to Excel” functionality.
That’s a high level overview of how Power View fits various common use cases and scenarios we encounter when developing a Microsoft BI solution. And comparing that to some of the other tools at our disposal.
You notice there are a lot of green checkmarks. In most area you can choose several different options. Your choice will depend on what your users need, what they’re comfortable with and what you want to support.
There’s quite a lot of subjectivity and judgment in this, but hopefully this chart will at least help you focus your efforts while analyzing requirements.