Microsoft complements its relational database engine, SQL Server, with several add-on services that manage different aspects of enterprise business intelligence and information processing such as data integration, reporting and analysis. While SQL Server can function independently of these services, they add value by enhancing SQL Server’s capacity as a robust information platform for developing comprehensive business intelligence solutions. Services include the SQL Server Integration Services, SQL Server Reporting Services and SQL Server Analysis Services. These services are core products of the SQL Server 2008 R2 version, but they differ significantly in the services they provide as part of the full server suite.
SQL Server 2008 R2 Services Availability in Editions
One key consideration and difference is that not all services come with the different editions of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2. The six SQL Server Editions for SQL Server 2008 R2 are Datacenter, Enterprise, Standard, Web, Workgroup and Express. Integration Services is included in the Datacenter and Enterprise editions. Reporting Services is included in all editions of SQL Server 2008 R2. However, full reporting services are limited in the Standard, Web Workgroup and Express editions. Lastly, Analysis Services is available in the Datacenter, Enterprise and Standard editions with advanced analytical functions in the Enterprise and Datacenter editions only. The Standard edition does not include SQL Server PowerPivot for SharePoint that is part of the basic Analysis Services package.
SQL Server Integration Services
The SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is the data-warehousing arm of the SQL Server 2008 R2 suite — equipped with superior Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) capabilities. It provides the vehicle for moving data from different data sources to another and changing the data, if necessary. The three components in the SSIS platform for starting the data integration process are the Import and Export Wizard, SSIS Designer and SSIS API Programming. The Import and Export Wizard simply transfers data from source to destination but does not include data transformation capabilities. The SSIS Designer is an integrated component of the Business Intelligence Development Studio used for the development and maintenance of integration services packages. SSIS API Programming module allows you to code SSIS packages using any number of programming languages.
SQL Server Reporting Services
The SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a framework of reporting mechanisms such as the Report Builder, Report Designer, Report Manager and Report Server that work together through a Web interface to enable the development of concise interactive reporting solutions in print or Web format. Report Builder and Report Designer are two SSRS components for generating reports. Report Builder is a simple solution for the information worker or business user to create quick reports without the need to understand the core structure of the data. The Report Designer is a tool for developers because it adds complexity to custom reports development. Using this tool requires an understanding of the Business Intelligence Development Studio shell in Visual Studio and the underlying structure of the data. According to Microsoft, the Report Server is the core process engine in SSRS that manages the processing and delivery of reports using processors. The Report Manager is an administrative tool that controls reporting services through a Web interface.
SQL Server Analysis Services
The SQL Server Analysis Services, or SSAS, is a multidimensional analysis tool that features Online Analytical Processing, powerful data mining capabilities, and deeper dimensions to business information within a relational database. Multidimensional analysis is an OLAP technique that produces the ability to analyze large quantities of data by storing data in axes and cells instead of the traditional relational two-dimensional view in rows and columns. SSAS places predictive analytic capabilities in the hands of information workers by creating an instant connection to backend data using familiar applications such as Microsoft Excel and SharePoint for analysis, visual presentation and collaboration.