Late last year, Microsoft announced the availability of an updated beta or community technology preview (CTP) of SQL Server Reporting Services in the Cloud based on the Microsoft Azure platform. The product is formally known as SQL Azure Reporting Services and if you’d like information about the preview, visit the link above for all the details.
I just wanted to spend a few minutes today introducing you to the new CTP and what I’ve found there so far. I’ve built a Cloud BI Web-based sample app and a Windows Phone 7 sample app using SQL Azure Reporting Services and I promise that I will blog about how you can build one, too, in the next coming months. This should be a natural progression of my Microsoft Cloud BI: All the Pieces series.
One thing that I really liked in this CTP is that I am able to manage users so that I was able to make demo users who can access my reports from my Web-based Cloud BI solutions with a read-only report user style account. You can also upload and download RDL files to and from the cloud and your laptop from the Azure management screen.
I was not able to access the normal SSRS styled Report Manager link from SQL Azure Reporting Services. But the Azure Management Screen also contains an area within the Silverlight console that looks like the Report Manager console and has similar functions like when you select a report and use the drop-down menu in the Details view of Report Manager.
The Report Server Web Services URL is available in this CTP, just as it was in the previous CTP.
Of course, a key tenet and advantage of any area of the Azure platform from Microsoft is the fact that all of my existing developer and administrator tools will essentially still work the same in Azure as they do today in the traditional on-premises world meaning that I won’t need to learn new tools or new design paradigms. That’s true for the most part with SSMS, BIDS, Visual Studio and Report Builder. But architecturally, moving to the Cloud and in a hybrid mode, will likely mean some paradigms shifts in the way that you are used to doing things.
Lastly, I am a big fan of Report Builder 3.0 as the reporting tool that I prefer to use with SSRS. I just find it quicker and easier to get in and out when modifying reports. I am very happy to see that I am able to create folder structures and save my reports out on the SQL Azure Reporting Services just like on-premises.
In addition to that, I can even publish Report Parts to my Gallery on my local SSRS instance (see screenshot at the bottom). That entire report and the associated Report Parts came from my Cloud-based SQL Azure Reporting Services report. So while you can use your SSRS RDL as the starting point for these reports, there is a caveat: the data source for the reports that I published to SQL Azure Reporting Services needed to use SQL Azure as the data source. In other words, it is not valid to host a report in the Cloud that does not have a cloud database source!