Power BI vs SSRS Paginated vs SSRS Mobile – Recommendations

Leonard Murphy   •   06.12.2018

Microsoft offers three tools for reporting: Power BI, SSRS Paginated, and SSRS Mobile. Each offers pros and cons. While there are plenty of articles that talk about costs, let’s look at Power BI vs SSRS Paginated vs SSRS Mobile and how they work together.

SSRS Paginated: SSRS Paginated reports date from SQL Server 2005 and are great if you need a layout that looks good on paper. You can generate PDF reports, export data to Excel, and embed reports on websites. They also offer some interaction (such as choosing filters, drilling down in a table, or drilling through to another report.) Both IT and savvy business users can learn how to create paginated reports, although it is not easy for non-technical users to pick up. SSRS is great for operational reports, such as a report that emails you if valid but bad data is entered. 

SSRS Mobile: SSRS Mobile was added to SSRS with SQL 2016. It has a mobile-first design philosophy. Rather than a free-form layout, you add charts to a grid that can be laid out differently for different screen types (phones, tablets, monitors). While laying out a mobile report looks easy, there can be a lot of technical work to create the underlying datasets and get the data in the format you need. As a result, SSRS Mobile is really for IT developers only. SSRS Mobile reports have some interaction between tiles, but nothing like Power BI.

Power BI: Microsoft’s newest offering was released in 2015 (but based on previous Excel-based products called Power View, Power Pivot, and Power Query). It is primarily for quick analytics and data exploration rather than for good-looking print-outs. Power BI works with a larger range of data sources out of the box. Further, non-technical users outside IT can easily pick up and start building Power BI reports. (We’ve previously posted about approaches for implementing Power BI.) Power BI comes with a website (often called the service) as well as a mobile app. 

Summary of Differences

Tool Target Audience Strengths Weaknesses
SSRS Paginated Technical Business Users
IT
Operational Reports
Pixel-Perfect Reports
Print-Ready Reports
Analytics
Data Exploration
Mobile Reports
SSRS Mobile IT only Mobile Reports Analytics
Data Exploration
Operational Reports
Pixel-Perfect Reports
Print-Ready Reports
Power BI Non-Technical Business Users
Technical Business Users
IT
Analytics
Data Exploration
Mobile Reports
Pixel-Perfect Reports
Print-Ready Reports

 

Recommendation: Power BI vs SSRS 

As far as Power BI vs SSRS, it is not an either/or scenario. Both Power BI and SSRS have their own unique strengths that complement each other; therefore you do not have to choose between them. Where interactivity & data exploration is the priority, Power BI is a great solution. If your report needs to look good on the page, then Reporting Services is the better choice.
Power BI vs SSRS - Wrong tool for the job
Power BI is not a replacement to paginated reports: if you approach Power BI as if it were, you could become frustrated trying to do things that are better suited for paginated reports and miss the advantages that Power BI brings to the table. Make sure you use the right tool for the job.

If you are not currently using SSRS Mobile, do not start now. Power BI is the better choice.


Leonard Murphy

Senior Consultant

Share This Article


At Talavant, our goal is to help you discover, ask and answer the right questions – so you get more value from your data to drive your business forward. You’ll gain a competitive edge with faster, more relevant analytics. It’s all part of our focused, holistic approach that goes beyond tools.

Ready to get started?

Contact Us