What are Reporting Services Dashboards
Reporting services dashboards are simply business intelligence dashboard deployments based on Microsoft Reporting Services. A reporting services dashboard uses as its fundamental data source data that is sent from Microsoft Reporting services, an aspect of MS SQL Server that provides a way to create reporting services dashboards with a minimal amount of effort, at least in Microsoft's eyes. The biggest challenge that reporting services dashboards often are plagued by is that the resulting dashboards are often limited in features and functionality, along with requiring numerous interfaces to get maximum usage.
Benefits of Reporting Services Dashboards
Among the biggest benefits of reporting services dashboards is the issue of cost, specifically, if a company is already heavily vested in Microsoft technology, it may prove to be more cost effective to standardize on reporting services dashboards than to employ dashboard solutions from other third party enterprise dashboarding software like Cognos or Business Objects. From this perspective, reporting services dashboards can be viewed as an "add-on" component to software that is already available in house.
Challenges of Reporting Services Dashboards
While reporting services dashboards can offer some benefits they also have significant challenges. Microsoft reporting services dashboards for starters can be created in any number of ways, since the reporting services product does not provide dashboarding capabilities in an of itself. The complexity of setting up reporting services dashboards is also compounded by the mixed delivery model that Microsoft uses that provides dashboards in a number of different client environments ranging from Excel to Internet Explorer based dashboards that use ActiveX.
Alternatives to Reporting Services Dashboards
While reporting services dashboards might seem attractive at face value, their long-term maintenance and usage costs more than offset any early benefits. Alternatives to reporting services dashboards are available that provide greater flexibility, easier deployment and lower total cost of ownership that reporting services dashboards. Solutions from companies like EMANIO are providing this type of functionality while also providing one of the greatest benefits of reporting services dashboards, the ability to integrate with collaboration platforms like SharePoint.
Who Should use Reporting Services Dashboards
While it's hard to fix a particular customer type for any product, generally speaking reporting services dashboards are most appropriate for companies that have in some fashion standardized on Microsoft technology and that have the in-house finances and resources to cope with the deployment and maintenance headaches that come with reporting services dashboards. The other challenge for reporting services dashboards is that Microsoft's strategy for BI is ever changing and has yet to stabilize, leading to potential future problems as the company changes its platforms and delivery methodologies.