There are several different ways to generate reports in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, but before jumping into a deep dive on reporting, let’s define the basics of reporting in AX.
SSRS – SQL Server Reporting Services. A report generating software product from Microsoft included as part of the suite of Microsoft SQL server services. Most out of the box AX reports are SSRS reports. These reports use transactional data for reporting, but can also be used against analytical data.
SSAS – SQL Server Analytical Services, also referred to as OLAP cubes. Part of the Microsoft SQL Server services suite.
OLAP – Online Analytical Processing. Also referred to as cubes. The name cube comes from the fact that related data is stored in a multi-dimensional form in order to retrieve better data for reporting. Think of it as taking multiple pieces of data that are related and putting them into the same pool for retrieval. OLAP allows for analytical and transactional processing of data to output in report format.
Report Builder – a tool used to create SQL Server reports. Can be accessed and easily manipulated through Report Manager. Report Manager can be accessed through the default setup URL at http://[SSRSServerName]:80/Reports that is automatically configured when you set up Reporting Services.
Visual Studio – Development tool used to create custom reports that can be transactional or analytical.
RDL – Reporting Definition Language. Also, a file extension for report definition files (.rdl).
Management Reporter – A separate reporting tool for financial reporting that connects to the AX database through a DataMart connection. What this means is that the DataMart is a separate SQL database that receives data through the DataMart connection from the AX database, so Management Reporter is never actually touching raw AX data.
Auto Reports - Preconfigured reports that can be customized by individual users. Often starts as a blank canvas, leading people to think the auto report is worthless.
Business Intelligence (BI) – Built in analytical tools to help with reporting and predictive analysis. BI tools in AX are Role center dashboards, KPIs, analysis cubes, and multiple analytical reports.
Power BI – An online or desktop reporting tool that can connect to multiple data sources such as business data and online services to provide real time insight. Power BI can blend the results of multiple sources easily or use one source to produce quick and easy analysis.
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