This time around, the company is announcing new SQL Server Report Packs for Exchange and Business Solutions CRM; Report Builder, a tool that opens up simple report creation to the masses; and a rechristened version of DTS (Data Transformation Services) that will reach into nonpersistent data stores such as those found in RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds or Web services.
Bill Baker, general manager for SQL Server Business Intelligence for the Redmond, Wash., company, is expected to announce the trio of business intelligence announcements during his opening keynote at the PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server) Community Summit here on Wednesday.
The report packs, which are available for free download starting on Wednesday, provide users with modifiable templates of commonly used Reporting Services reports. According to Alex Payne, senior product manager for SQL Server, the report packs include templates for commonly run reports in the current version of Exchange and in Microsoft CRM 1.2. For example, common reports for Exchange include queries into which users send the largest e-mail files, whose in-box is of a certain size or who receives the most e-mail. Common reports in CRM include those concerning account details or a report on sales pipelines that shows customer details. The Exchange Report Pack includes 13 templates, and the CRM Report Pack contains six, Payne said.
Microsoft intends to make more Report Packs available based on customer requests, but Payne declined to say what applications they would pertain to.
Baker also is expected to confirm in his keynote that the company is putting the ActiveViews Inc. BI technology it acquired in April into SQL Server 2005 Beta 3. The technology, which has been dubbed Reporting Services Report Builder, is geared to enable end users to build reports in an ad hoc environment. End users will be able to build reports from scratch or to modify existing reports within a simple drag-and-drop environment, without having to understand the intricacies of database schema, database connection strings or the construction of SQL queries, Payne said, as is now the case with building reports in Reporting Services.
"It hides the complexity of underlying database schema so they can more easily build reports," Payne said. Reports will be generated from either the SQL Server relational database or off of Analysis Services, which is Microsofts OLAP (online analytical processing) engine. "What it means for the end user is building your report with freedom of thought. You dont have to call somebody and say, Build me a report for sales for the last quarter. I can drag and drop in a Microsoft environment, and I can build my own business report."
Baker also is expected to announce that additional Microsoft products will embed Reporting Services into their applications. Both MOM (Microsoft Operations Manager) and the next version of CRM will have Reporting Services for a reporting environment, Payne confirmed.