SSRS and Power BI


SSRS and Power BI are the two leading business intelligence tools that organisations use around the world. Both are designed to present data to the end user. Both are part of the Microsoft BI stack.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a collection of software services, apps, and connectors that work together to turn your unrelated sources of data into coherent, visually immersive, and interactive insights. Your data may be an Excel spreadsheet, or a collection of cloud-based and on-premises hybrid data warehouses.

Power BI is a collective term which can refer to either Power BI Desktop which is a free Windows Desktop application, Power BI Service which is an online SaaS (Software as a Service)  or Mobile Power BI apps available for Windows, Android or iOS devices. The final element is the Power BI report server which allows users publish Power BI reports to an on premises report server after creating them using Power BI desktop.


The Pros of Power BI:

  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Premium versions have the ability to process large quantities of data.
  • Includes Built-in machine learning features.
  • The learning curve is fairly straightforward.
  • Information can be visualized to make better sense of data.
  • Functionality to set up alerts on KPIs.
  • Integrates easily with other popular business management tools.
  • Ensures data is safe, offering granular controls on accessibility both internally and externally.
  • Constantly releasing updates and new innovations.

The Cons of Power BI:

  • The free edition has a limit on the amount of data it can ingest.
  • Daily/weekly reports not currently available.
  • Dashboards can be exported but not printed.
  • Filter settings not available across dashboards.

What is SSRS?

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a server-based report generating software systems from Microsoft. SSRS has been around since 2004 and began as an add-on to SQL Server 2000. Reporting software allows the user to produce formatted reports with tables in the form of data, graph, images, and charts. These reports are hosted on a server that can be executed any time using parameters defined by the users.


The Pros of SSRS

  • Direct access to information in Oracle , MS SQL Server Databases as well as Excel and many more.
  • Included if you have Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Sever based which allows users to easily create, access and share reports.
  • Out of the box ability to export to multiple file formats.
  • Report subscriptions allows users to schedule reports which can be delivered automatically.
  • Well supported by Microsoft (up to now) and also has a huge community of users with many years of report generation experience.

The Cons of SSRS

  • Tends to have issues handling large data sets.
  • Not interactive to users apart from the input of parameters.
  • Requires a separate tool for mobile reports.
  • Limited set of charts and does not have the facility to import new charts.
  • Interface is viewed as outdated and can be difficult to upgrade to newer versions.


Replacing SSRS with Power BI is not easy.  If companies are currently using SSRS for paginated and printable reports and it is suiting their business needs then migrating or replacing SSRS with Power BI may not be a wise choice. Replacing SSRS with Power BI should be considered in cases where users are looking to create new reports or you need reporting on a variety of data sources. If you are writing your reporting services from scratch, Power BI is the way of the future.

Over the last few years Microsoft have ensured that Power BI and SSRS are aligning and getting closer. In 2017 Microsoft announced Power BI Report Server, which is basically SSRS server with Power BI rendering on top and in 2018 they announced SSRS rendering in Power BI Premium. Now, whether you are on-premises or in the cloud you can use Power BI and SSRS in the same place.

However, product updates, rapid development and releases show that Microsoft aim is to make Power BI the dominant player in the data visualisation sector. Undoubtedly SSRS is still a major player in the reporting sector but with the reduced demand for paginated and printable reports and the increased demand for dashboards with story telling visualisations Power BI looks to be where the future lies but SSRS, particularly with its current market share, has still some road to travel.

Contact Us

At Dataworks, we have the experience and expertise to help you to use both  SSRS or Power BI to its full capability allowing you get the most from your data and reports. If you would like to find out more Contact Us today or call us on 051 878 555.



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