Simplifying our SharePoint integration story

Over the past year or so, we’ve connected with many customers to hear what you value about Reporting Services and what we could make better. We incorporated much of the valuable feedback we received into SSRS 2016, which we’re seeing customers adopt at an incredible rate. We've also received a good deal of feedback about Reporting Services’ two installation modes – “Native” mode and “SharePoint-integrated” mode. Today, we’d like to share how we’re addressing that feedback in SQL Server v.Next to make Reporting Services a fantastic BI solution you can deploy on its own – and more easily integrate with SharePoint if you so choose.

Your feedback

As we spoke with one customer after another, we heard the following loud and clear:

  • Native mode and SharePoint-integrated mode can present a difficult trade-off, as many customers wanted a standalone BI solution like Native mode but needed to deploy SharePoint to get features available only in SharePoint-integrated mode, such as Power View. (Conversely, some features are available only in Native mode. For us, developing features to support both modes comes at the expense of other features we’d love to deliver to you.)
  • Deploying SharePoint-integrated mode can be a challenge. Getting SharePoint administrators – usually different people from those who manage BI – to install and run Reporting Services on SharePoint application servers, manage Reporting Services in SharePoint Central Administration, and support reports stored across various SharePoint sites and libraries is difficult in practice.
  • More and more customers are migrating to SharePoint Online, which requires more lightweight integration approaches.

A simpler integration story going forward

Starting with SQL Server v.Next, there’ll be only one installation mode for Reporting Services: “Native” mode. It’s a standalone BI solution you can deploy, whether or not you have SharePoint, and it offers the full set of Reporting Services features: a modern web portal, paginated reports, mobile reports, KPIs, and more. With the Technical Preview of Power BI reports in Reporting Services, you can view and interact with Power BI reports in your web browser, and in time, we aim to support web-based viewing of Excel workbooks in Native mode as well.

If you do have SharePoint and want to integrate with it, it’ll be your choice and it’ll be simpler. We’ll enable you to integrate Reporting Services Native mode with SharePoint, focusing on the scenarios you’ve told us you value most:

  • Embedding reports in SharePoint pages. For many if not most customers, SharePoint integration really came down to this scenario. We’re making it as easy as possible to embed all report types in a Page Viewer web part using the rs:Embed=true URL parameter. Plus, we plan to update our Report Viewer web part as well.
  • Reporting on data in SharePoint lists. With a native connector for SharePoint list data in Report Builder as well as in Power BI Desktop, we’ll continue to make it easy to query SharePoint data and visualize it in your reports.
  • Delivering reports to SharePoint libraries. We plan to develop a SharePoint delivery extension for Native mode so you can schedule delivery of reports in various formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and more) to SharePoint libraries.

With these more lightweight approaches to SharePoint integration, SQL Server v.Next Reporting Services no longer includes the current “SharePoint-integrated” installation mode. We’ll continue to support SharePoint-integrated mode in previous versions through the product support lifecycle, and we’ll offer documentation and tools to help you migrate your reports to Native mode (today, check out this migration script as an example). We’ve evolved Power View into Power BI reports, which we’re working on enabling in Reporting Services (try the Technical Preview). You can already import your Excel workbooks with Power View sheets into Power BI Desktop and we plan to enable you to convert your standalone Power View (*.rdlx) reports as well.

We’re thrilled with the feedback we continue to receive about SSRS 2016 and the Technical Preview, and with the direction we’ve shared today, we’re excited about the enhancements we’ll be able to deliver to you.