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Planning for Content Publishing and Management Tools

As part of an overall deployment strategy, you will want to consider the client tools that are used in a Reporting Services deployment. This topic describes each tool, the user requirements or areas of expertise that you must have for using a tool successfully, and whether there are special considerations regarding security, deployment mode, or topology.

Client tools provide the means to configure the report server, create the content that runs on the server, and to view and manage content. In some cases, the tools that you can use will vary depending on whether the report server is configured for native mode or SharePoint integrated mode. If you are not familiar with report server deployment modes, see Planning a Deployment Mode.

For an overview of all the client and server components in a Reporting Services installation, see Component Architecture. For more information about how to select specific client and server tools in Setup, see Considerations for Installing Reporting Services.

A report server must be configured before it is ready for use. In some cases, if system and application requirements are met, you can install a report server with default values for the report server databases and URL reservations. When you install a report server with default configuration, it is ready to use immediately after Setup is finished. However, if default values are not available, Setup will install just the program files, and you will have to configure the server before it can be used.

Tools for Server Configuration

To support server configuration, Reporting Services includes the Reporting Services Configuration Tool and the Report Server Command Prompt Utilities. You can also use the Surface Area Configuration for Reporting Services facet of SQL Server Policy-Based Management to turn off report server features. These tools are always installed on the report server computer when you install a report server instance. They are required components; they cannot be turned off or uninstalled. They are not part of the SQL Server client tool set that can be installed or uninstalled independently of server components. For more information about tools and approaches for turning off features, see How to: Turn Reporting Services Features On or Off.

User Tasks and Requirements

Tasks for report server configuration include creating the report server database, configuring a service account, configuring URLs and optionally SSL certificates for those URLs, and managing encryption keys. All of these tasks are supported through the Reporting Services Configuration tool.

To perform these tasks successfully, you must understand network topology, security fundamentals, and database connections. For scale-out deployments or installation on production servers, you must know how to bring computers on and offline in your network, request or create virtual server names and deploy load-balancing solutions, how to read and interpret log files, and troubleshoot configuration issues.

Permissions for using these tools include administrator permissions on the local computer. Any user who is a member of the local Administrator's group on the computer can run the tool and configure the report server.

Special Considerations for Server Configuration

You can only configure one instance at a time. You can configure local or remote instances, but you might have to enable a report server for remote administration. For more information about enabling a report server for remote administration, see How to: Configure a Report Server for Remote Administration.

If you deploy the report server in SharePoint integrated mode, you must have permission to use Central Administration to configure integration settings.

A Reporting Services installation is often deployed as a distributed application that places a report server instance and report server database on different computers. A complete deployment requires ongoing maintenance to ensure that service account passwords and database connection settings are kept up-to-date, application data is backed up on a regular schedule, and that system resources are sufficient for the quantity and type of reports that are used in your organization.

Tools for Server Administration

To support server administration, you can use SQL Server Management Studio that is installed as a client tool in SQL Server Setup. Client tools support remote server administration; you can install the tools on a different computer than the server instance and then administer the server remotely. In addition to Management Studio, you should also plan to use Event Viewer and the Performance monitor console applications that are available through the operating system.

User Tasks and Requirements

Tasks include enabling optional features, backing up the report server database, monitoring server performance, and troubleshooting server issues.

To administer a report server successfully, you must know how to use the Event Viewer and Performance Monitor, read log files, and edit configuration files. You must also know now how to create, schedule, and run backup and restore operations for SQL Server relational databases. You should also know how to stop long-running jobs or troubleshoot performance problems.

Permissions for using Management Studio and the system utilities include administrator permissions on the local computer and on the computer that has the report server installed and the Database Engine instance that hosts the report server databases.

Reporting Services supports specific types of content; namely, report definitions (.rdl), report models (.smdl), shared data sources (either .rds or .rsds if you are running a report server in SharePoint integrated mode), and arbitrary resource files that can be stored but are not processed on a report server.

To create reports, models, and shared data sources, you must install and use authoring tools that produce these types of files. You must then publish these files to a report server, where they are subsequently stored in a report server database and are subject to the security settings and property management features of the report server instance.

Tools for Content Creation and Publication

Reporting Services includes Report Designer, Report Authoring Preview, Model Designer, and Report Builder.

User Tasks and Requirements

User requirements and expertise vary depending on which tool you are using and the type of content you are creating. To create report definitions and models in Report Designer or Model Designer, you must have expertise in writing queries, writing expressions, and formatting data. You should know how to conceptualize data to create logical data structures like groups. If you create models, you must have a clear understanding of the underlying data; a model allows you to use your existing understanding to articulate your data in a way that is understandable to other users. Both Report Designer and Model Designer run in Business Intelligence Development Studio, which provides a Visual Studio development environment.

Report Builder is easier to use because it works from a report model and templates, and builds the data queries for you. You can use Report Builder to create reports very quickly if you already have a model to work with.

Permissions and settings for using these tools include:

  • Server settings that enable access to Report Builder.

  • Roles that enable report builder.

  • Roles that enable publish operations.

For more information, see How to: Configure Report Builder 1.0 and Report Builder 2.0 Access and Securing Reports and Resources.

Special Considerations for Content Creation and Publication

You should be aware that there are security concerns around publish operations. You should not grant publish permissions to a large number of users. If a user intentionally or unintentionally publishes a report that contains malicious code, the report server and possibly the computer it runs on will be compromised.

Note that there are no special considerations for native mode or SharePoint integrated mode deployments. Report processing is insensitive to server modes, and the design tools that are used to create .rdl or .smdl files produce standards compliant output files that process on a report server that is configured for either mode. Only configuration and content management are mode-sensitive.

In a Reporting Services installation, content management and distribution refers to granting access to items and operations, creating the folder hierarchy used to organize content, and implementing a strategy for report distribution (either on demand access or subscription-based delivery). It also encompasses report processing options, determining report history and retention policies, creating data-driven subscriptions, creating shared schedules, creating or managing shared data sources, and troubleshooting subscription or delivery problems.

Tools for Content Management and Distribution

Content management and distribution tools vary depending on the deployment mode of the report server. Report Manager is used to view and manage report server items and operations on a native mode report server. In SharePoint integrated mode, you view and manage report server items and operations from the application pages on a SharePoint site.

User Tasks and Requirements

Limit content management and distribution responsibilities to a small group of trusted users. These tasks require a good understanding of Reporting Services features and of the role-based authorization model that determines all user access to report server items. You should also understand authentication and data source fundamentals so that you can manage data sources and make informed choices about report processing options.

Permissions for managing content on a native mode report server are granted through the Content Manager and System Administrator roles. To manage content on a SharePoint integrated mode report server, you must have sufficient permissions on the SharePoint site. For more information, see Granting Permissions on a Native Mode Report Server and Granting Permissions on Report Server Items on a SharePoint Site.

Special Considerations for Content Management

If you are using Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008, there are some additional steps to enable local administration of the report server, and you must configure Report Manager for local administration. For instructions, see How to: Configure a Report Server for Local Administration on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 and How to: Configure a Report Server for Local Administration on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

All of the applications and tools that are included in a Reporting Services installation use the public programmatic interfaces. The tools cannot be extended, but you can replace any tool with a custom application that performs equivalent operations with a custom graphical interface or extra features that you provide. You must know how to develop programs that use Web services and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) interfaces. For more information, see Developer's Guide and Technical Reference.

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