This is in continuation of the article series where we explore the selection of the right BI solution for your business requirements. Read my previous article for more information about SAP Business Objects BI suite.
Today we pick SAP Crystal Reports and SQL Server Reporting Services for a high level comparative evaluation. In many ways these two solutions are similar in capabilities; however there are larger differences too that might impact your decision to go for one.
SAP Crystal Reports provides more refined formatting and controls over SSRS. The report layout sections, page controls etc are more flexible in Crystal Reports.
Data source properties are embedded with individual report (rpt) files in Crystal Reports. This provides flexibility to connect to different data sources. Even a single report can have multiple sections connecting to different data sources. In the case of SSRS, the data source is shared between multiple reports. So connecting your reports to data sources in different environment is easier just by changing your data source. For example, while development; you can easily switch your report connectivity from DEV to TEST database.
The graphs and charts generated by both solutions are similar and there are no major differentiators in this area.
Crystal syntax is simple and addresses most common requirements; more importantly this is popular among a large developer base. However on the scripting side, I would rate SSRS as more flexible for because of the .NET integration (ability to add code and to reference .NET libraries).
SSRS provides only web based interface (report server URL for browsers and web service interface for application integration). SAP Crystal Reports provides both windows based reports (integrated and viewed in the client application) and web based (requires SAP CR server and web based viewer).
Overall, the selection of one solution depends on several factors as described above. For example if you already have SQL server licensing, the Reporting Service comes along with that without additional cost.
Note: The recommendations in this series are based on my experience with these tools in the past. If you have questions, comments or need guidance in identifying the right BI solution for you, you can post your queries here or write to me here