Microsoft is becoming an increasingly vocal proponent of integration across its various product lines. As of Tuesday, it added SQL Server Reporting Services, yet another layered software component, to its repertoire.
Microsoft launched its Reporting Services product on January 27 via a Webcast for customers, analysts and the press. Microsoft offered Webcast launch participants several customer testimonials, a product demonstration and stage-setting remarks by executives overseeing the product.
As its name specifies, Reporting Services is designed to help customers author, generate and view reports comprised of data stored in SQL Server and third-party databases for which ODBC drivers and OLE data providers are available. These include popular databases such as Oracle and IBMs DB2.
SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services is part of what Microsoft is calling its Business Intelligence Framework. It is designed to complement the replication services, data transformation services, and analysis (in the form of online analytical processing and data mining) services that Microsoft currently offers as part of its SQL Server database platform.
"We believe tremendous value can be brought by integrating inside the platform and outside the platform with Web services," Senior VP Paul Flessner told launch attendees. "Integration decreases the total cost of ownership."
Microsoft originally planned to make Reporting Services part of its "Yukon" SQL Server release, which Microsoft has promised will ship by the end of calendar 2004. But due to customer demand, the company decided against holding Reporting Services back, and opted to make it available earlier, according to company officials. According to Microsoft data, more than 30,000 people either signed up for and/or obtained the Reporting Services bits as part of the products beta test phase.
Reporting Services consists of three components: a report server, report manager and report designer. Reporting Services customers can opt to view reports through a variety of ways, ranging from a Web browser, to Microsoft Outlook, to Microsoft Excel. A number of Microsofts third-party partners are working to integrate custom applications with Reporting Services, company officials said.
Microsoft is making Reporting Services available for free to SQL Server 2000 customers who are willing to run it on the same server as their database. If they want to run Reporting Services on a different server, they need to license an additional copy of SQL Server 2000. Customers also must purchase either per-user or per-device client-access licenses (CALs) for Reporting Services use, as well – even if they only access the product remotely via file-sharing or e-mail. Customers who wish to author reports also are required to license at least one of Microsofts Visual Studio tools for each report author.
An evaluation edition of the product, timed to expire in 120 days, is downloadable here.
SQL Server generates $1.5 billion worth of business for Microsoft, at present, company officials said. Microsofts database business has been growing at more than 50 percent, compounded annually, over the past 10 years, they said. And according to Microsofts estimates customers have deployed more than 1.3 million SQL Server database systems.