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Our company recently implemented a BI Reporting solution intended for a retail company with both, an offline retail chain and an online web-shop. This was a Demo project, so during the planning phase our team decided to use two different platforms, including different back-end and front-end software.
In general, we planned to compare the free and non-free software available for similar BI Reporting implementation.
We chose the following platforms for comparison:
These two platforms were chosen due to the following reasons:
To make this competition fair and comparable we used the same data sets on both DBs and were implementing the same reports with the same UI (or at least the most similar UI) on both front-end sides.
For data synchronization between the two DBs we used MS SSIS for ETL implementation (data was generated on Oracle and then moved to MS SQL).
After the decision of which two platforms are to be compared was made, the project was started.
At the very beginning the software engineers successfully installed all MS software (Server + SSIS + SSRS), connected all the parts, built an ETL, etc. In general it took about one work week (5 work days) for all these activities. First positive conclusion about MS was that they can have really good documentation with no issues occurring during setup.
For testing, we used MS SQL Server 2008 R2.
The second platform was not as easy to setup. Although Oracle was installed pretty fast and without tweaks, dealing with SpagoBI was pretty tough. It took four work weeks for complete installation, tuning up, and removing all issues and side effects.
The following were the most cumbersome issues:
Here we used Oracle XE 11g and SpagoBI 3.6.0.
SpagoBI installation and tuning would be much easier with manual in hands and support service from SpagoWorld, but we agreed to make the experiment fair and not pay any money in this case.
Although our team is already experienced with SpagoBI installation and next time it will take no more than one week to complete, for new users it may be challenging at first.
Nevertheless, all troubles were eventually eliminated and the team was ready to start on the next task.
The next stage of our project was all about data preparation. Here is what we did:
All generated data was carefully validated and a lot of improvements were made to make the data as close to real retail data as possible. We were using this “fake” data to secure the real retail data and customer information.
The same data set was used to test both platforms.
This project phase was most enjoyable. In this phase a real “battle” between SpagoBI and SSRS took place.
We implemented a set of different reports intended for company executives and the marketing department in order to track company performance using benchmarks and KPIs, review sales performance, analyze effectiveness of marketing campaigns, and analyze customer segments and their behavior.
In this task, both MS SSRS and SpagoBI proved to be good tools, providing good graphic capabilities with some differences in implementation of the UI.
Below you will find the most remarkable pros and cons of each tool.
Jasper Engine embedded into SpagoBI
Composite Document Engine
In general, SSRS is a really nice and usable reporting solution.
We observed the following:
We’ve successfully developed BI Reporting, with both solutions currently live and fully functional. Some users of these reports prefer SSRS , others prefer SpagoBI reports. The users keep arguing which solution is better and what functionality is more convenient in the 1st and in the 2nd case.
In general, both solutions are usable and BI Reporting systems can be built using either of the platforms. The following statements provide deeper insight into our findings:
Do you have experience in using different BI software? Please, provide your comments if you do. We would very much appreciate if you share your own experience of using BI tools, e.g. which tools you were using and for which tasks, how do you rate these tools, and what difficulties you observed during development.