System Center Reporting Server 2005

Hi All,

It’s been awhile, as some of you have so clearly pointed out.

Since my last post ( Mid September, has it really been that long?!!), I’ve been heads down working on the design and testing of System Center Reporting Server 2005 (try saying that 5 times fast). Since one of the requirements of a Microsoft employee blog is to not discuss pre-released products, I’m kinda unable able to discuss what I’ve been up to for the last 2-3 months.

So what can I tell you about System Center Reporting Server?

1. I can tell you that those of you running SMS and/or MOM and are looking to deploy System Center Reporting Server 2005 when it’s released, better brush up on your SQL DBA skills. Especially in the area of DTS job monitoring and troubleshooting, along with spending some time getting comfortable with SQL reporting services.

2. From a planning perspective, I’d like to set the record straight that System Center Reporting Server is a data warehouse not a reporting server like SQL reporting services.

In researching (briefly) the definition of a data warehouse I can upon this very good definition from the Minnesota Historical Society.

“Data warehouses are computer based information systems that are home for "secondhand" data that originated from either another application or from an external system or source. Warehouses optimize database query and reporting tools because of their ability to analyze data, often from disparate databases and in interesting ways. They are a way for managers and decision makers to extract information quickly and easily in order to answer questions about their business. In other words, data warehouses are read-only, integrated databases designed to answer comparative and "what if" questions. Unlike operational databases that are set up to handle transactions and that are kept up to date as of the last transaction, data warehouses are analytical, subject-oriented and are structured to aggregate transactions as a snapshot in time.”

What this means is that I suggest you start designing a hardware platform for this server based on data warehouse methodology not SMS or MOM server sizings. J

3. A lot of people are under the impression that this Reporting Server will be a replacement for the SMS Reporting Point. This is definitely not the case. In fact most companies are more than likely to have both implemented, since they target two distinct groups of consumers. SMS reporting server consumers will be predominately Local SMS administrators, helpdesk personnel and IT managers. System Center Reporting Server consumers on the other hand will be personnel such as Asset Management analysts, IT Managers, CIO/Board of Directors reporting staff and IT capacity planners etc.

From the System Center Datasheet:

System Center 2005 introduces System Center Reporting Server 2005, which consolidates event and performance information from Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 and change and configuration information from Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003. This combined information can be utilized for data mining and analysis, and can be exposed through rich, robust, and extensible reporting via SQL ServerTM Reporting Services. This integrated reporting capability provides easy access to the data that you need to manage your enterprise. With better insight into your environment, you can make more informed decisions, and clearly demonstrate the value IT brings to the business.

The System Center Reporting Server is designed to assist decision makers with “What if?” and point in time questions (based on different analysis dimensions, like time, resource ID etc) such as:

  • What does my server environment look like today?
  • How are my Webservers performing today, since I applied patches XYZ?
  • What security patches have I applied to machine X?”

And not daily operational questions such as:

· “How is my advertisement of XYZ doing at this moment?”

· Which machines have sent hardware inventory in the last 7 days?”