Powerful enterprise reporting solutions are hard to come by, and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) has been a mainstay since its introduction in 2004. It nevertheless has some serious limitations for SaaS providers looking to empower their users with data insights.
Jeff Spring, Senior Product Manager at ASI, says he and his team knew they needed to migrate away from SSRS once they moved their product, iMIS, to the cloud. “SSRS reports are extremely difficult to write without direct access to the database when you’re writing or editing existing reports,” he says, and SSRS has yet to introduce native cloud support.
Exago BI has made it easy for ASI to report off their data as a SaaS solution, but that’s not where the advantages end. Below is a list of the top five reasons SaaS companies switch from SSRS to Exago BI.
1. Exago BI is built to be embedded.
It’s often not enough for SaaS end users to have access to canned, pre-built reports, even if those reports are routinely updated with fresh data. Unforeseen questions arise, new use cases crop up, and decision makers need the tools to get answers themselves if they don’t want to wait (indefinitely) for IT to lend a hand.
Although SSRS reports can be shared on the web, the builder itself is a standalone desktop application and therefore difficult for end users to access. “As a SaaS application, we needed an embedded, web-based report writer that clients could use to write their own reports against iMIS data,” says Spring.
Exago BI is white label and purpose-built for SaaS providers looking to give their users hands-on access to application data. Its multiple open APIs give clients the power to configure the platform exactly the way they want it, exposing as much or as little of it to their end users as they like. Users can view existing reports and build new ones right in the SaaS application.
Compare these two implementations of Exago BI, the first from ASI, the second from SofterWare.
2. Exago BI is for technical and non-technical users.
The very first step of building a report in SSRS is writing a SQL query. This could be a simple SELECT * FROM script, but even the concept of SQL is foreign to most line-of-business users. Add in things like joins, filters, or aliasing, and their chances of getting a report started without IT’s help plummets to near zero.
Exago BI solves this problem by building data models dynamically as users add data to their reports, leaving the technical decisions to application administrators. This approach gets analysts and other power users off to a speedier start as well; they can still modify joins and view the SQL query if they like.
Lastly, whereas SSRS consists of one report builder, Exago BI offers two: one for casual users, and one for power users. ExpressView serves as an intuitive introduction to reporting with a streamlined toolbar, WYSIWYG report canvas, and drag-and-drop controls.
Exago’s Advanced Reports designer, on the other hand, supports more sophisticated controls intended for analysts, like crosstab (or pivot) tables, advanced filter logic, visualizations, and more.
3. Exago BI has a 100% web-based, flexible architecture.
To reiterate, there is no cloud version of SSRS, but you can deploy Exago BI pretty much anywhere — on premises, in the cloud, or on site with your customers.
We tried to count all the architectural possibilities Exago BI supports, but there were just too many combinations. Instead, we created this diagram showing all the platform, hosting, integration language, tenancy model, and data source options available. An environment can include multiple components from each column and still be supported.
4. Exago BI isn’t just reports — it’s dashboards too!
Unlike SSRS, which is a report builder first and foremost, Exago BI also features a dashboard design studio. Sure, you can put a bunch of charts into a single SSRS report and call it a dashboard, but that would be like putting icing on a stack of pancakes and calling it a torte. It’s simply more difficult to produce a polished, interactive dashboard using a tool designed for a different purpose.
Exago BI’s dashboard studio makes it easy to apply universal changes — such as a theme or filter — to an entire dashboard or to target individual dashboard components. Spacing is simple with the snap-to-grid controls, and dashboard viewers can activate filters, sorts, and continuous drilldowns for a customized view.
Beyond dashboards, Exago BI also offers report scheduling, bursting, pivot tables, and chained reports, which allow users to string reports together and even specify how they’re collated.
5. Exago BI is constantly improving.
SSRS is updated roughly once every two years whereas Exago BI issues major releases twice a year. That’s four times as often! In between releases, the development team puts out fixes for supported builds every couple of weeks, ensuring that clients who have encountered issues don’t have to wait long for help.
This might seem like a minor benefit, but when SaaS providers’ customer relationships are on the line, speedy fixes and regular updates (learn about our latest here!) are a must. Exago BI’s award-winning white-glove support is second to none in the industry because they will go out of their way to find a workaround to use while the long-term fix is in development.
So if you need pixel-perfect reporting but also a whole lot of other SaaS-friendly capabilities, look no further than Exago BI. It’s a comprehensive embedded BI platform with all the functionality of SSRS plus an array of solutions for modern BI users. It even includes a feature for adding third-party reports to users’ report libraries, helping ease the transition from one platform to the other.
To see Exago BI in action, sign up for one of our live Product Tour webinars! Experience the platform from the end user’s perspective and ask our BI analysts your burning questions during the Q&A.