Unless you are living under the rock , you’d probably know that since SQL Server 2005 SP2 time frame , you can configure a deployment of SQL Server Reporting Services to work with a deployment of SharePoint – known as SSRS 2008 installation in SharePoint Integrated mode. In the first attempt to combine their Business intelligence and Information Portal technologies together and by releasing SQL Server 2005 SP2 , Microsoft brought two very interesting technologies together and opened up a world of interest to many people including myself . When I first read about SP2 , I was like wait a minute, this is awesome! Both products that I had been really passionate about for years now are getting much closer! Needless to say that I’ve always appreciated the efforts Microsoft has put into making the technology , geekyness and weirdness around it transparent to the vast majority of people out there.
When SQL Server 2005 SP2 was released , MS really demonstrated that not only do they listen to their customer feedback, they also care so much about developers and to make their life easier. For example , in the context of SharePoint and SSRS integration , now you can potentially hire a report developer,they can build the reports (in much easier way) and publish them into SharePoint and basically hand them over to the user community and business users. From here , they can take the wheel, manage and interact with these reports (high level) without having to know what the hell is going on under the hood! Isn’t that amazing that how two completely different technologies can be combined to make things much easier for everyone? Remember, easier something is, more people will use it. More people use it, more popular you’ll become! Microsoft ,for sure, has proved that they’ve learned this very simple rule of life…
The only thing that tipped me over the edge at that time was when I first attempted to bring the the best out of both products in a “real” integration project with a very “difficult-to-get-along” kind of client! (I still have the nightmare of those two days) . I really don’t want to talk about those issues here , but what made it difficult for me was no proper documentation , no active community around both products and , to an extend, the immaturity of the integration . Things certainly have changed since then and obviously I’ve learned my “integration” lessons as well! Not that I don’t face any issues these days, but nowadays it’s much easier to find an answer – and yes , I find the answers to the majority of my questions in the blogs of those who are blessed and willing to SHARE their POINTS with the rest of the world!
When SQL Server 2008 and SSRS 2008 was RTMed , I didn’t make the same mistake I had made back in 2005 . I decided to to gain some home-based lab experiences before I go live with this in real engagements (Didn’t I just tell you that I learnt my integration lessons? 😉 ) Surprisingly, every installations I had at my home-based farms from a single stand-alone installation to a scale-out SSRS along with a large SharePoint Server farm went really smooth without big stucking points. Documentation around the integration is much better this time around, but I am still not happy by the coverage of SSRS 2008 and SharePoint integration by MS people and community! Let’s hope it gets better soon.
Speaking of SSRS 2008 Add-in for SharePoint, here is one question that I frequently get asked :
I have configured report server in SharePoint integrated mode. I have installed SharePoint Web front-end components on the report server computer.I have downloaded and installed the Reporting Services Add-in for SharePoint Technologies on my other Web front-end servers (including the one that hosts the Central administation site) , but Reporting Services section doesn’t appear in the Central Administration site;therefore I cannot complete the integration. Where did it go?
Well , the answer is : You need to activate a site collection-scoped feature called Report Server Integration Feature on the Central Administration site.
This feature has two different behaviors when gets activated on Central administration site than other sites. When activated on the Central administration site , the feature does all of the things it does for other type of sites , plus it adds a section called Reporting Services under the Application Management. This section must be used to make sure SharePoint is aware of my SSRS instance existence. Here is where the fun part starts .