Power BI vs SSRS: An In-depth Comparison

For 13 consecutive years, Gartner has recognized Microsoft as a Magic Quadrant Leader in analytics and business intelligence platforms – Microsoft.com

Comparisons are always important to understand the best of each component. And when it comes to comparing two popular technologies, there are a lot of interesting facts that are revealed. Power BI and SSRS are two such well-known report generating software that have carved a niche for themselves in the IT world.

Both are powered by a common tech giant – Microsoft and are a part of the Microsoft BI package. Hence, they do possess certain similarities but have their own set of uniqueness and differences. Overall, both have been offering a robust and effective reporting experience to their users.

Before we have a look at their comparison, let us a look at their overview and key features.

What Is Power BI?

Power BI is a business analytics service by Microsoft. It aims to provide interactive visualizations and business intelligence capabilities with an interface simple enough for end-users to create their own reports and dashboards. – Wikipedia

Power BI is a robust BI tool that enables an accurate and effective connection with distinct sources of data, with simplicity, and offers comprehensive analytics, on the go, as you like it. It comprises a full-featured suite operating through a Microsoft maintained PowerBI.com service. Users can prepare, collect, connect, transform, model, and visualize major types of data through in-depth and meaningful graphics through a drag and drop method.

Simple and user-friendly, Power BI comes up as an apt solution for huge databases and while modeling or structuring data. It possesses a variety of graphical components with the support of cloud-based data. As a powerful modern-day BI tool, it showcases exceptional capabilities like DAX formulas, custom visuals, dashboarding, etc. It comprises apps, connectors, and software services that fuse together to handle the data bulks. Reports and dashboards in Power BI offer a 360-degree view of the business perspective from a variety of data sources.

Good Read: Power BI Developer: Skills, Scope, Responsibilities And More

Power BI Benefits:

  • Ability to process a large amount of data
  • Transforms unrefined data into intuitive visual information
  • Can be easily embedded into custom apps
  • Utilizes lesser engineering resources
  • Gathers perceptions to make fast and knowledgeable choices
  • Exceptional Excel integration
Who Uses Power BI:
  • 20th Century Fox
  • 3M Company
  • 7-Eleven Inc
  • 8×8
  • Adatis
  • Acuvate Software Ltd.
  • Bitscape
Components Of Power BI:
  • Power Query
  • Power Pivot
  • Power Map
  • Power View
  • Power BI Desktop
  • Power Q&A

What Is SSRS?

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) provides a set of on-premises tools and services that create, deploy, and manage mobile and paginated reports. – Microsoft

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) resides on top of the SQL database engine and leverages it for effective data supply and creation of meaningful paginated reports. As a conventional and extensible server-based platform, SSRS consists of an integrated set of processing functionalities and programming interfaces.

SSRS involves manual efforts while designing reports and hence demands more reporting tools. It is closely related to SQL formatting tools and Visual Studio. It extracts a variety of reports like cached, parameterized, linked, drill-down, ad-hoc, click-through, snapshot reports. It comes free with SQL Server 2012 and offers an interface with Microsoft Visual Studio for a direct connection to the SQL database.

SSRS Advantages:

  • Facilitates accurate and advanced decision making
  • Helps to interact with information without IT help
  • Offers a host of security features
  • A strengthened tool as compared to peer reporting tools
Who Uses SSRS:
  • Maple Lodge Farms Ltd.
  • U.S. Security Associates Inc.
  • The Durst Organization Inc.
  • Optum
  • Wells Fargo
Components Of SSRS:
  • Report Builder
  • Report Designer
  • Report Manager
  • Report Server
  • Reporting Server Database
  • Data Sources


Power BI vs SSRS – A Detailed Comparison

ParametersPower BISSRS
ApproachMore modern and graphical interface, drag and drop functionality, modern rendering, easy collaborationMore conventional, including manual effort and time, customizable as per needs, development with coding interface
CostFree of cost, access to premium features needs a licenseNeed to purchase SQL Server license
Integration with AI ElementsIntegrated with Cortona for AI-related experienceNo integration related to AI
HistoryComparatively newer, launched in 2014Relatively older, launched in 2004
CompatibilityUsers can develop and share reports for server-based and cloud-based platformsUsers can develop and share reports for only server-based platforms
Availability Over DevicesAccessible over mobile/desktop/web browsersAccessible over desktops/web browsers
Major ElementsHTML5-based open-source SaaS platformServer-based report generation and visualization
Report DistributionReports and dashboards can be easily shared via workspaces and shared file locationsReports can be shared automatically through email distribution or shared file locations
Structure of ReportsOffers visually appealing reports with slicers and other features that are dynamically updatedOffers paginated reports, with text and numeric information. A drill-down facility is available.
Dependence on Data TypesCan function seamlessly with structured and unstructured dataCan function seamlessly with structured and semi-structured data
Training and OrientationPower BI has a GUI based interface; hence it is easy to train users on itSSRS needs a technical background to get trained and oriented
Real-time UpdatesIt receives monthly updates with every new releaseIt receives updates once in every few years
Sources of DataCan extract data from anywhere, no limitationCan access data from limited database types
Size Limit of Data SetsHas a limit of 1 GB in the free version, with multiple datasetsThere is no limit of data set size here
Target AudienceIntended for any business user, since it can self-servicedIntended for IT departments in any organization, since it needs technical skills

When To Use Power BI?

Power BI is an excellent choice when,

  • All users can easily be trained for report creation
  • There is less coding experience
  • There is a need to render interactive reports

When To Use SSRS?

SSRS is the right choice when,

  • There is a lot of on-premises data stored
  • The use of paginated reports is more
  • There is skilled coding experience
Last But Not the Least

The choice between the two – Power BI vs SSRS will finally be concluded based on organizational requirements. SSRS is a conventional tool whereas Power BI is modern-day. As we go along, Microsoft may shift focus and there are chances of SSRS becoming a subset of Power BI reporting services. But, SSRS does have its own fan following and that will stay, for time to come. Reporting services are advancing thanks to technologies like Power BI and SSRS and the fruits are being enjoyed by end-users of all fraternities. After all, data visualization is the key to good business intelligence.


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