Power BI, SSRS and ConfigMgr

By Garth Jones

Don’t get me wrong, I like Power BI because it allows for quick and simple dashboards to be created, whereas SSRS dashboards take a bit more time to setup. However, for advanced reporting and multiple executions by multiple people, SSRS dashboards are the better option.

Creating a dashboard or report with Power BI still means that you need to understand ConfigMgr, know how to write a SQL query, and have SQL access to the database. If you don’t understand ConfigMgr or know how to write a SQL query for ConfigMgr then be prepared to run into issues.

I truly believe that both Power BI and SSRS have their place.

In his PASS 2015 Foundation Session: Microsoft Business Intelligence, James Phillips, Corporate VP and GM of Microsoft’s business applications, platform and intelligence (BAPI) organization says, “…you will see SSRS emerge to be a consistent delivery mechanism for all of these various classes of reports. And so, you’ve got options both in-the-cloud or on premise to deliver these report types consistently across both areas…”

To paraphrase Mr. Phillips, Power BI and SSRS are complementary. He also points out that, “…paginated reports [SSRS], operational reports…perfect for high volume, multiple-page, pixel perfect reporting…”

If you review the Microsoft Business Intelligence – our reporting roadmap post, you will see that both Power BI and SSRS are clearly mapped out. Below is a sample Power BI report.


One of the headers in the roadmap post says, “Reporting Services is our on-premises solution for BI report delivery,” so SSRS is not going anywhere! In fact, Microsoft is investing a lot into both SSRS and Power BI. Clearly they will become closer in nature over time, but as you can read, the SQL Server Team believes that Power BI is NOT a replacement for SSRS.

My understanding is that both SSRS and Power BI are slowly becoming one product and the release of SQL Server 2016 will be the first step towards that goal.

If you want to create a one-off ConfigMgr dashboard or report, then Power BI Desktop is the tool to use. However, if you plan to use this dashboard or report over and over again, then SSRS is the right tool for you.

In my blog post next week, I will show you why it is important to understand ConfigMgr and why it is important to understand SQL queries. With a good understanding of both you can create reports like the one below!


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