Power BI vs SSRS: Which Microsoft System is Better for You?

power bi  vs ssrs

You have a mountain of customer data to analyze, but you’re not sure where to begin. 

That’s where a business intelligence (BI) solution comes into play. By acquiring and leveraging the right BI software, you’ll be able to gain actionable insights into some of your most vital data while discarding unnecessary information.

One of the biggest names in the BI world comes from one of the biggest names in the tech world: Microsoft. Its BI solution, known as Microsoft Power BI, has helped companies of all sizes analyze data and generate reports. 

But it’s not the only game in town. 

Some heads have turned to another Microsoft product, SQL Server Reporting Service, or SSRS for short. This tool is used for data visualization, typically on the enterprise level. 

Both of these solutions produce results, but which one is right for you? 

In this article, we’re going to analyze both Power BI and SSRS, comparing them to one another on a number of factors ranging from features to price, to overall usability. We do this to determine which of these solutions would work best for your business based on its size.

Product Overviews

Power BI

power bi pros and cons

What Does Power BI Offer?

Power BI is an enterprise-level business intelligence tool. It has smart features and is extremely user-friendly with a drag-and-drop interface anyone can pick up on quickly. 

Using Power BI, various data sources can be connected into one centralized platform.

Analytic solutions are provided to end users via the cloud. You’ll be able to see a more complete look of all of your most important data, which will provide you with actionable insights. 

You can also easily share your visualizations with colleagues. Power BI lets you create visualizations with ease using customizable dashboards. You can even embed custom dashboards into other business applications.

What is Power BI’s Target Market?

Power BI is mostly intended for businesses, schools, software companies and law enforcement agencies. It’s best used in a mid-sized to large or enterprise-level business. 

How Much Does Power BI Cost?

Power BI has three subscription tiers: 

  • Desktop – The Desktop tier is free for individual users. 
  • Pro – Pro plans cost $9.99 per user, per month. 
  • Premium – Power BI’s Premium tier is $4,995 per month, per dedicated cloud compute and storage resource. 

Click here to check out our comprehensive review on Power BI.

SSRS

ssrs pros and cons

What Does SSRS Offer?

SSRS gives you server-based report generation and enterprise data visualization. 

Using this service, you’re able to generate, view and share reports. 

It uses a programming interface along with integrated processing components to complete these tasks. However, SSRS requires a fair amount of coding knowledge and isn’t as user friendly as Power BI. 

What is SSRS’s Target Market?

SSRS is intended for enterprise-level companies with coding experts who have the ability to manage the system.

How Much Does SSRS Cost?

SSRS doesn’t release pricing information. Contact Microsoft directly for pricing.

Power BI vs SSRS: 3 Essential Variables of BI Solutions

How do Power BI and SSRS perform at the most important tasks for a BI solution? We’ve highlighted a few key features below for your review.

Data Discovery

Power BI on Data Discovery:

When using Power BI, all of your data can be connected together into one centralized location. That means less time is spent on the capture and evaluation of data.

Data can also be correlated to reports generated using scalable dashboards. Power BI connects with Microsoft systems such as the Azure database along with other third-party databases.  

SSRS on Data Discovery:

SSRS handles structured and semi-structured data types only. This system only fetches data from an SQL server, Data Warehouse, or SQL Server Analysis Services.

Visualization

Power BI on Visualization

Power BI features easy-to-upload data sets, and there are a variety of visualization types to choose from. Data can be dragged and dropped from a sidebar. You can create visualizations by entering search-style queries with conversational language. 

There is a 3,500 data-point limit for drilling into datasets for the purposes of analysis. 

SSRS on Visualization

It’s not as easy to generate reports through the coding and programming interface of SSRS. 

For starters, you can’t use unstructured data, and reports have to be designed and coded manually. 

Automation

Power BI on Automation

Using Power BI, you can automatically duplicate workspaces. Schedules can also be set for data refreshing. 

Power BI can also automate tasks and processes associated with Microsoft Azure. 

SSRS on Automation

There’s no automatic reporting with SSRS.

Everything has to be manually coded, making this a more hands-on BI solution. 

Power BI vs. SSRS: Which One is Right For Your Business?

power bi vs ssrs

Small Businesses and Startups:

Startups should use Power BI’s Desktop version. It’s free for individual users, which is an ideal setup for a small startup without a lot of employees. 

Small businesses should use Power BI’s Pro Plan. It’s affordable if you have a smaller staff, and it’s less likely that small businesses would have anyone with the coding expertise needed for SSRS.

Medium-Sized Businesses:

For a medium-sized business, we also recommend Power BI’s Pro Plan.

It’s well priced and includes a lot of automation. SSRS has no automation, and a business of this size is going to have a lot of data to sift through. 

You also have a large number of datasets to choose from when using Power BI.

Enterprise-level Businesses:

Power BI Premium is perfect for enterprise-level businesses. 

Not only do these businesses have the budget for it, but the drag-and-drop interface makes visualization capabilities much easier. 

While enterprise businesses might have the coding personnel needed for SSRS, it’s more convenient to use Power BI’s automated system.

If you’re looking for a complete rundown of BI services or software, check out our business intelligence buyer’s guide.

Final Thoughts

Microsoft produces both Power BI and SSRS, and both provide a vital service for modern businesses. 

However, in terms of a true easy-to-use business intelligence tool, Power BI is more in line for what most businesses are looking for in data sourcing, visualization and automation. SSRS, while a fantastic solution in its own right, lacks the usability of Power BI. The drag-and-drop interface of Power BI ensures that anyone in your organization can use the system with little to no coding knowledge whatsoever.

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