In my previous Essential BI UPDATE commentary, "SharePoint 2007 for Business Intelligence," I discussed Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0’s basic business intelligence (BI) capabilities. WSS 3.0 is a free component for Windows Server 2008 and 2003 customers, but if you need more advanced BI capabilities, you can purchase Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007.
A common question asked by Microsoft customers is "What can I do to extend my existing Microsoft data warehousing/BI solution when I only have access to WSS 3.0?" Actually, WSS 3.0's basic BI capabilities are quite impressive! With WSS 3.0, customers can access the following BI capabilities:
- SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services (SSRS)
- ProClarity Analytics Server 6. 3
- Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005
- Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007
Let's look at these capabilities in detail.
SSRS 2005 Integration
SSRS 2005 supports two modes of deployment and thus two ways to integrate with WSS 3.0. Native mode has been supported since SSRS's debut in SQL Server 2000, and is the basic, out-of-the-box report server deployment mode. Native mode provides a separate, standalone report server.
To integrate SSRS 2005 native mode with WSS 3.0, you install the Reporting Services native Web Parts found in a cabinet (.cab) file called RSWebParts.cab. You must use stsadm—the SharePoint command-line administration utility—to install the Web Parts into the SharePoint environment.
The RSWebParts.cab file provides two basic Web Parts for SSRS 2005 integration: a Report Viewer and Report Explorer. You can then place these Web Parts onto WSS 3.0 pages for report viewing and exploration capabilities. Furthermore, you can link the two Web Parts together so that Report Explorer will provide the reports to be displayed in Report Viewer. This level of reporting integration was nice and definitely added value, but there were core integration features as well as potential enhancements still missing—for example, the ability to provide a seamless security model between both SharePoint and SSRS. Also, there are several native abilities of SharePoint that could be leveraged for SSRS, such as storing reports directly in SharePoint libraries with version control. These features as well as several others are available when you use the second form of SSRS/SharePoint integration.
Early in 2007, Microsoft released SQL Server 2005 SP2, which included SharePoint integrated mode. SharePoint integrated mode enables SSRS 2005 go beyond its basic integration capabilities with SharePoint 2007. You can use SQL Server 2005 SP2 and a free download called Reporting Services Add-in for SharePoint Technologies to configure SSRS for SharePoint integrated mode.
SharePoint integrated mode offers lets you share security, storage, and URLs between SSRS and SharePoint 2007. SharePoint integrated mode provides several integration enhancements beyond those found in the native mode, including:
- report version control (check-in/check-out and report history)
- seamless and unified security
- Report Manager functionality in SharePoint web pages
- an enhanced Report Viewer
- the ability to publish SSRS items to a SharePoint library
ProClarity used to be a separate company that developed some of the best analytical tools in the BI market. Microsoft purchased ProClarity and has done its best to integrate the company’s analytical tools more seamlessly into the Microsoft BI stack. ProClarity Analytics Server 6.3 is slated to be the last release of the product, as Microsoft PerformancePoint Server 2007 (PPS) will consume and supersede it.
You can integrate ProClarity Analytics Server into WSS 3.0 by downloading and installing a free component called the Microsoft ProClarity SharePoint Viewer. You must use the current version of the component (version 6.3) to enable SharePoint 2007 integration. However, you'll still want to use the Page Viewer Web Part to integrate ProClarity Dashboard Server into WSS.
Business Scorecard Manager Integration
Business Scorecard Manager 2005 was designed to integrate with WSS and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Prior to PerformancePoint Server 2007's arrival, Business Scorecard Manager 2005 was Microsoft’s official scorecard product. Business Scorecard Manager 2005 has now been consumed and superseded by PerformancePoint Server 2007 Monitoring.
If you attempt to install Business Scorecard Manager 2005 in a WSS 3.0 environment, you'll encounter various installation and scorecard publishing problems. Patrick Husting provides a list of workarounds in his blog at http://bimvp.com/blogs/bsm/archive/2005/12/29/63.aspx. Note that Business Scorecard Manager 2005 isn't officially supported in a WSS 3.0 environment.
PerformancePoint Server 2007 Integration
PerformancePoint Server 2007 combines the abilities of Business Scorecard Manager 2005 and ProClarity 6.3, and adds new planning capabilities. When you install PerformancePoint Server 2007 Monitoring you also gain access to the new Dashboard Viewer Web Part. The Dashboard Viewer provides WSS 3.0 integration with PerformancePoint Server 2007 dashboards. Dashboards in this case are a graphical composite unit of deployment which can contain analytics, reports, and scorecards. You deploy a dashboard built using the PerformancePoint Server 2007 dashboard designer tool to the monitoring server. You can then use the Dashboard Viewer to integrate the dashboard into your WSS 3.0 pages.
Although WSS 3.0 doesn't provide any native BI capabilities, you can leverage its integration with the other Microsoft BI tools. Small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) will have access to WSS 3.0 via Windows Server; however, they might not be able to obtain the richer MOSS edition. With the BI integration capabilities found in WSS 3.0, you can still develop rich BI Portals.