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MS to reveal more about reporting tools

Microsoft will soon unveil details of new reporting tools for its database software.

Microsoft said next month it will release more information about a reporting-service feature originally designed for Yukon database software, which will be available for SQL Server 2000 by the end of the year.

About 60 customers are currently testing SQL Server Reporting Services, though more than 100 others applied to be a part of the private beta, said Tom Rizzo, a Microsoft group product manager.

Microsoft will be releasing more data about how SQL Server Reporting Services works, including some technical white papers and developer walk-throughs, Rizzo said. The public beta is scheduled for the fall and the service will be available by the end of the year; included with the SQL Server license.

Interest in this service is high. It was first discussed at Microsoft's TechEd conference in early June. "People are really asking a lot of questions," said Kurt Windisch, director of program development at Levi, Ray and Shoup Inc. in Springfield, Ill.

"Reports are the crux of an organization," Windisch said. "That's what the decision makers want to see, and a technical person wants to please the decision maker."

The software offers several key services for IT administrators and for database administrators, Rizzo said.

It has graphical design tools for reports. "Instead of code, you can drag and drop in Visual Studio to create reports in a graphical environment," Rizzo said. Customers today have a few different options in this regard. They can create their own reports or use a third-party application, such as the one made by Crystal Decisions in Palo Alto, Calif.

SQL Server Reporting Services is also touting its reporting engine. IT administrators or DBAs can graphically design a report and deploy it to the server. The engine then pulls the data in, checks security and helps the customer manage the reports.

The engine also helps users create personalized notifications and subscriptions to reports. This lets users receive notifications via e-mail, or it lets IT administrators host business reports in a portal.

Rizzo said customers can create reports from data housed in a variety of platforms, including Oracle databases and IBM's DB2.

Microsoft originally built the service for Yukon, its next-generation database that was recently released in a limited beta. The company decided to release the service for SQL Server 2000 due to customer demand, Rizzo said.

Early iterations of Microsoft's Reporting Services won't offer as many features as customers get today if they are using software from Crystal Decisions. But Rizzo said they should evaluate the Microsoft service anyway because it is free to customers with existing SQL Server licenses.


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