BI Market Share Report

The latest research by IDC shows Microsoft is ahead of the pack in terms of growth in the business intelligence (BI) tools market. Microsoft ranked fourth in the overall market share and had the highest growth (25%) for the period 2004-2005. The release of SQL Server 2005 and the acquisition of ProClarity (evaluated separately on the report) will most likely gain additional momentum.

Dundas Map for Reporting Services

Tuning again on the Dundas wave, the same company announced the pre-release availability of the Dundas Map for Reporting Services 2005. Designed as a custom report item (new extensibility feature with SSRS 2000) the Dundas Map allows report authors to present geographic data graphically in reports. The Dundas Map for Reporting Services with be included free in the Dundas Reporting Services Dashboard Bundle alongside chart, gauge, and calendar controls.

Dundas Chart for OLAP Services

If you are on a lookout for a web-based smart chart that can browse SSAS 2005 cubes, don’t look further. Enter Dundas Chart for OLAP Services! Despite the name (what’s Dundas anyway?), I really fell in love with this control after playing it with its demos for a while. The chart can connect to both server and local cubes. The attached image shows the Dundas Chart connected to the Adventure Works DW cube.

The beauty of the Dundas Chart is that it’s more than a chart. It is a web-based OLAP browser. And it’s AJAX-enabled so the page doesn’t re-post as result of user actions! From an end-user perspective, authoring a chart is a matter of dragging and dropping dimensions and measures. The same experience as creating an OLAP-based pivot or chart report in Excel.

Given the void left by OWC and the lack of Microsoft OLAP browser controls, the Dundas Chart for OLAP Services is definitely something to consider when planning for multi-dimensional web reports.

Timeout Quest

I was on an interesting quest today. I had to troubleshoot why some long-running SSRS reports time out after a fixed period of time. An SSRS report can time out for at least three different reasons. First, the dataset query could have been set to time out (see DataSet Query tab). The default query timeout is 30 seconds. You can set the query timeout to 0 to prevent the query from timing out.

Second, the entire report may be set to time out . By default (see the Site Settings page in the Report Manager), all reports are set to time out after 1,800 seconds (30 minutes) but the report timeout can be overridden at the report level by using the report execution properties. When the report timeout is up, the Report Server simply terminates the report.

Finally, if your application calls down to the RS Web service to run a report (the Render API), the web service call may timeout. That’s because in .NET, the web service proxy has a Timeout property.

As usual, as one of the first step of troubleshoot an SSRS issue, I fired up the SysInternals DebugView tracer to watch the output from the Report Server. It turned out that the reports would time out after exactly three minutes. When this happened, the Report Server would gently complain that the ASP.NET thread had terminated without throwing an exception. This led me to believe that this issue was outside the Report Server. After further digging, it turned out that the proxy Timeout was set to 180 seconds. Setting it to -1 solved the problem. Keep in mind though that the IIS could also terminate a long-running report, e.g. if the IIS 6.0 application pool is set to terminate long-running threads.

Installing Reporting Services 2005 on Named Instance

Here are the steps I’ve recently followed to install successfully SRRS 2005 on a named instance.

  1. Follow the steps in the “To Install Reporting Services Side-by-Side With an Earlier Version” section in BOL.

  2. Navigate to http://localhost/reportserver/. If you get access denied error to rsreportserver.config (or another folder/fiile), add the SSRS Windows Services account (e.g. NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM) and the Web service (ASPNET) to the SQLServer2005ReportServerUser$<machine>$<instance> and  SQLServer2005ReportingServicesWebServiceUser$<machine>$<instance> Windows groups respectively.

  3. Try to open Report Manager. If you get an error that the Report Server cannot open a connection to the database, go back to the Reporting Services Configuration tool.

  • Switch to the Database Setup tab.

  • Select the Server Name and Database Name (ReportServer) and click the Script button.

  • In the Create Scripts dialog, select the Grant Rights Script option.
    Type in the Web service account (e.g. ASPNET) in the User Name field and select the Windows User Account checkbox. Click OK to generate the script.

  • Double-click the script file to open it in the SQL Server Management Studio and execute it. This should grant the necessary permissions to the Web service to connect.

Strangely, on a Windows 2000 box, the Reporting Configuration Tool was showing the following error:

ReportServicesConfigUI.WMIProvider.WMIProviderException: An unknown error has occurred in the WMI Provider. Error Code 80070005   at ReportServicesConfigUI.WMIProvider.RSReportServerAdmin.SetWebServiceIdentity(String applicationPool)

I wasn’t able to figure out how to fix the above error message but it didn’t seem to affect the Report Server.