I have an interesting meeting tomorrow with one of the Server Jockeys in our organization.
Our Server Administration Team, like many others, has an assortment of databases they wish to aggregate and query against in the fashion of a typical dashboard. There is no issue with doing so per-se; I encourage my colleagues to better-acquaint themselves with the data, meta-data, and mega-meta-mondo-data that they rely on constantly, but usually in a passive (or even dismissive) state. The issue I have comes with their tool of choice in developing this functionality: Microsoft Access.
I really would like to orchestrate a move towards SQL Server Reporting Services. To my knowledge there is no ancillary (lookup table) data that will need to be created and stored into MS Access tables – the data is complete across the five databases they are planning on querying against.
MS Access is like that package of chicken ramen noodles that has taken up residence in your desk drawer. It is there when all better options are exhausted. Not that there is anything wrong with ramen noodles, it’s the food that fuels the developing minds of our future scientists, economists, engineers, exotic dancers (every one you meet is working her way through college it seems), and all other university students at one point or another. It indeed satisfies the immediate hunger or qualms the hangover, mission accomplished style. Ramen as your core dietary source of nutrition? Not recommended. The same goes for MS Access. It’s fine here and there when you perhaps need a quick fix when all else fails or when the means to better accomplish the task at hand is unavailable, but as the long-term solution to dashboarding against Tier-1 applications for an enterprise of 15,000 users? No thank you. I’ve seen this in play before. Someone begins using MS Access for a simple solution to a small issue they’re confronting. One, two, or even five years later they’ve cobbled together something functional, but monstrous at the same time.
How have others overcome this dilema and introduced SQL Server Reporting Services to an audience that has not been exposed to it and don’t have technical knowlege to quickly embrace its functionality? Be so kind to please share your experiences here. Not just for me, but for others to learn from as well.