Key benefits and uses of Power BI Report Server for Cloud and On-Premises setup

Posted by Errin O'Connor on Feb, 09, 2021 10:02

Key benefits and uses of Power BI Report Server for Cloud and On-Premises setup

Microsoft’s Power BI is a collection of mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 mobile devices. Among these, the Power BI Report Server is in actuality a web portal present on the premises that you can use to manage reports and KPIs. Certain tools required to create paginated report, mobile reports, and KPIs. 

Also, the use of it is possible through two kinds of licenses, namely – Power BI Premium and SQL Server Enterprise Edition with Software Assurance. But in order to publish reports in the on-premises report server, the Power BI Pro license is a must. 

Advantages of the Power BI Report Server :

It is based on the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSR) Framework and comes with interactive features. Consequently, this enables the process of hosting, sharing, and collaboration of Power BI reports all behind the user organization’s firewall. The benefits of this server are as follows :

  1. On-premises – This refers to the fact that this version of the product is installed in an on-premises setup and configure to work on an on-premises only unlike the Power BI Service or the Power BI Premium.
  2.  SSRS Framework – Built on top of the SSRS Framework, the user organizations can transfer reporting assets like the paginated reports, mobile reports, KPIs, and Excel Workbooks.
  3. Power BI Reports – It allows the Power BI Reports to be deployed.

The database is included within the purchase of the Power BI Premium capacity of the Power BI Service. hence, for organizations trying to establish both an on cloud and on-premises BI architecture and model through visualizations, this method is the best option.

Power BI Report Server

Server Requirements for cloud hosting vs. on-premises :

In the contemporary world, business organizations are increasingly using cloud computing for its immense flexibility in usage. Moreover, when you compare cloud hosting and on-premise, certain key differences are visible between them. Some of these differences are as follows :

  1.  Deployment – The on-premise reporting service and data structure provide for the resources to be deployed in the house within the organization’s infrastructure. On the other hand, the cloud computing environment organizations other than the user can utilize the data at any given point in time.
  2. Cost – Through the usage of the on-premise structure, the organization is responsible for the ongoing process costs and other costs of space, power consumption, and others. On the other hand, when organizations use cloud computing, they pay for only the resources that they use and not any other maintenance costs.
  3. Control – The on-premise structure of computing provides maximum control over the data of the user organization. As opposed to this, in the cloud computing environment, companies struggle with keeping control over their organizational data.
  4. Security – Organizations or companies that deal with sensitive information or data that is extremely vulnerable, for instance, banking industries benefit from the on-premise setting for it provides maximum security to their data. The major concern over security is one of the most important reasons that create a barrier to the development of cloud computing.

The requirements for establishing the Report Server technology are :

  1. Net Framework of 4.7
  2. 1GB of HDD space
  3. 4 GB of RAM
  4. 2.OGHz (or faster)×64 CPU
  5. Windows Server 8 Enterprise through Windows Server 2019 Datacenter.
  6. SQL Server 2012 through SQL Server 2019.
Power BI Report Server Developement Flow

Power BI Server installation and dashboard creation  

Licensing the Power BI Report Server is available through the following two sources, namely the Power BI Premium and the SQL Server Enterprise Software Assurance. You can follow the following steps for installing-

How to Install Power BI Server:

  1.  Find the location of the PowerBIReportServer.exe and launch the installer.
  2. Choose the Power BI Report Server.
  3. Select the addition to install and then select next.
  4. After reading the terms and conditions of the license, click on next.
  5. A database engine has to be present in order to store the report server database. Click on next to install the report server only.
  6. Specificy the installing location. Then select install to continue.
  7. Upon successful completion of the report, the server select Configure report server to initiate reporting services.

How to create Power BI dashboard

The creation of the Power BI dashboard can be achieved through the following process –

  1. Download the procurement analysis sample file.
  2. Open the Power BI service in the browser.
  3. Select My workspace and then Get Data from the Nav Space.
  4. Under Files, Choose Get.
  5. Move to the location of the sample file then choose Connect.
  6. Then select import.

When the success message is visible on the screen, select the cross to remove it.

What is the Process of publishing the report to report server :

The following are the steps to publish a report in the report server –

  1. Step I: Installing Power BI Desktop –

To begin with, the Power BI desktop for the Power BI Report Server needs to be installed. Both Power BI Desktop and Power BI Desktop for on-premises report server can run on the same computer.

  1.  Step II: Selecting a data source –

A user can select from a variety of data sources. From the welcome screen, Get Data needs to be selected and the data source should be selected from the Analysis services. The Server and Database need to be filled. Finally, chose the report server where the reports will be saved. There are a lot of options available power Power BI Implementation for various data sources available either external or internal

  1.  Step III: Design the report –

The third step involves the designing of the report. In this step, arrange data into various visuals in which the data can be illustrated.

  1.  Step IV: Saving the report to the report server –

In the final step, the reports must be saved in the report server that was chosen in Step II.

Differences between Power BI Report Server and SAAS BI :

SAAS BI is an application in cloud, delivering Business Intelligence (BI) tools like dashboards and report servers based on subscriptions. Accordingly, the term ‘SAAS‘ stands for ‘Software-as-a-service’. The comparative analysis of these two services provides the following major differences between the two –

  1. The updates for SAAS BI version comes every month, however, the Power BI version being an on-premises service, is updated only thrice a year.
  2. In SAAS BI, the you can use browser to create reports while you can create reports in the Power BI Desktop by using the on-premises report server.
  3. There is no requirement for Microsoft BI Report Server to use the Power BI Gateway to access any local data, but it is a necessity for the SAAS BI if any local SQL Server data needs to be connected as the source of data.
  4. Absence of Dashboards and the presence of the same in the SAAS BI is another major difference between the two.
  5. The data sets shared are later available on the SAAS BI but not in the Power BI.
  6. Downloaded data can be managed in Excel in the SAAS BI while this feature is unavailable in the Power BI.
  7. The Question & Answer feature is not absent in the Report Server but is available in the Power BI.
Microsoft Power BI SAAS

Drawbacks Power BI Report Server:

Although the design of the service benefit its users to great extent, in reality, this tool has certain disadvantages. Upon practical use, you can see the list of disadvantages found-

  1. You can’t create Microsoft BI reports in browser
  2. Absence of dashboards in the tool.
  3. Absence of datasets. Thus, no sharing between reports is possible.
  4. You don’t have ability to create content packs.
  5. The analysis of Excel is not possible.
  6. You can’t established many-to-many relationships.
  7. Absence of quick insights.
  8. There are no data alerts.
  9. The full-screen mode is not available.
  10.  Absence of R-visuals.
  11.  There are no preview features.
  12.  The updates and improvements are few.
  13.  Certain custom visuals from the Microsoft BI community do not work.

Along with the disadvantages, you can use it to only provide aid in publishing interactive reports and sharing them with end-users. Also, there is the absence of aid with regard to workspaces, apps, or dashboards. As the tool is based on the SSRS technology, reports can only be shared and published in a way similar to the way in which SSRS reports are shared on Native Mode.

Conclusion :

Though the Power BI Report Server has a fair share of limitations, it is one of the best on-premises analytics software infrastructures with custom charts and layouts for users generation. Along with that, the user organization has access to certain tools that come along with it including Power BI Reports, Mobile reports, and others.

In the end, every company or organization must find out whether this app supports its enterprise reporting capabilities.

If you need more information, please reach out regarding Power BI Reporting Services we provide.

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Errin O'Connor
About the Author

Errin O'Connor

With over 25 years of experience in Information Technology and Management Consulting, Errin O’Connor has led hundreds of large-scale enterprise implementations from Business Intelligence, Power BI, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, IT Security, Azure and Hybrid Cloud efforts for over 165 Fortune 500 companies.

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