Black Belt Administration: Reporting Services Configuration Manager

Monday Jun 18th 2007 by William Pearson
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Use the Reporting Services Configuration Manager to manage a report server deployment. BI Architect Bill Pearson provides an overview of the various settings provided within this centralized maintenance tool.

About the Series ...

This article is a member of the series MSSQL Server Reporting Services. The series is designed to introduce MSSQL Server Reporting Services (“Reporting Services”), presenting an overview of its features, with tips and techniques for real-world use. For more information on the series in general, please see my initial Database Journal article, A New Paradigm for Enterprise Reporting. For the software components, samples and tools needed to complete the hands-on portion of this article, see BlackBelt Administration: Linked Reports in Report Manager, another article within this series.

Introduction

A common attribute of enterprise reporting systems is their provision for single points of maintenance for significant aspects of system configuration. Reporting Services meets the general need for centralized maintenance of reports and their constituent components by housing them within a central “report catalog,” facilitating easier report access and management. Reporting Services provides multiple management options to administrators.

While many management tasks are most conveniently handled via the Report Manager Web interface, Reporting Services provides several specialized utilities to complement this primary application. One of these tools, the Reporting Services Configuration Manager, provides a central point of Report Server configuration and ongoing management. In this article, we will examine how we can use the Reporting Services Configuration Manager to configure a report server deployment. The tool allows us to manage related services, and to specify directories, identities, and database connections, among other details. We will examine each of these capabilities in the practice session that follows.

The Reporting Services Configuration Manager

The Reporting Services Configuration Manager provides access to tabs that allow us to work with and / or monitor the following settings for our report servers:

  • Server Status
  • Report Server Virtual Directory
  • Report Manager Virtual Directory
  • Windows Service Identity
  • Web Service Identity
  • Database Setup
  • SharePoint Integration
  • Encryption Keys
  • Initialization
  • Email settings
  • Execution Account

As we shall see, we not only access the various settings via these tabs, but we can also see statuses for each at a quick glance. We will examine the details of each settings group in the procedural steps that follow.

Overview the Settings Tabs within the Reporting Services Configuration Manager

Let's open the Reporting Services Configuration Manager, to take a look at the pages involved.

1.  Select Start -> Programs -> Microsoft SQL Server 2005 -> Configuration Tools -> Reporting Services Configuration, as shown in Illustration 1.


Illustration 1: Opening the Configuration Manager ...

The Report Server Installation Instance Selection dialog appears.

2.  Provide / select the appropriate Machine Name and Instance Name for your environment. The settings from one of my lab servers appear as depicted in Illustration 2.


Illustration 2: Report Server Installation Instance Selection

3.  Click Connect to open the Reporting Services Configuration Manager for the specified machine and instance.

The Reporting Services Configuration Manager opens for the designated server. On the top page, we see the Report Server Status section, which sits atop the Legend. The Legend contains each of the icons that can be displayed within the various tabs of the Configuration Manager in the left pane. The Legend defines the various “states” that the icons show, to make us aware, at a glance, of whether the settings contained within the tab are configured or not configured, and whether the respective settings are optional or recommended, or are simply not supported within the current mode. The Legend appears as shown in Illustration 3.


Illustration 3: Legend for the Setting Group Tabs

NOTE: Per the documentation, it is possible to configure settings that are not valid. We should always test our local Reporting Services installation(s) to verify that they work as expected. Visual indicators for configuration status, such as those displayed by the Reporting Services Configuration Manager, are not a substitute for tests that verify a successful deployment. (For more information about how to verify a deployment, see the Books Online topic “How to: Verify a Reporting Services Installation.”)

Because the Reporting Services Configuration Manager can be used to configure a local or remote report server instance, you must have local system administrator permissions on the computer that hosts the report server you want to configure. You must have permission to create databases on the SQL Server Database Engine used to host the report server database.

Let's examine each of the tabs in turn to get a detailed understanding of the settings they support. We will begin with the current “starter” page, Report Server Status.

Settings Page: Server Status

The default page, Report Server Status, serves as a point where we can start or stop the Report Server Windows service. Several Instance Properties are presented here, including:

  • Instance Name (MSSQLSERVER for a default installation);
  • Instance ID (MSSQL.3 for a default installation);
  • Initialized (a simple “Yes” or “No”);
  • Service Status (“Running” or “Stopped”)

When we start or stop the service (the extent of possible activities for this page), a Task Status section appears in the place of the Legend (shown in Illustration 3 above). The Report Server Status page, with Task Status section in place for a recent service start, appears as depicted in Illustration 4.


Illustration 4: Report Server Status Page with Task Status Section ...

We can navigate to the remaining tabs by clicking each in the left pane of the Reporting Services Configuration Manager application, as shown in Illustration 5.


Illustration 5: The Navigation Tabs of the Configuration Manager

4.  Click the related tab entry within the left pane for each of the following to follow along in our discussion.

Settings Page: Report Server Virtual Directory

The Report Server Virtual Directory page supports our specification of a virtual directory for the report server. By clicking on this tab, we can see the virtual directory within which the ASP.NET web service for our installation is set to run. In addition to modifying our choice of virtual directory, we can also specify SSL settings (including certificate identification, etc.) on this page.

An example of the Report Server Virtual Directory page is depicted in Illustration 6.


Illustration 6: Report Server Virtual Directory Page

Settings Page: Report Manager Virtual Directory

We can examine (as well as modify) the virtual directory within which the Reporting Services Manager lives using the Report Manager Virtual Directory page. An example of the Report Manager Virtual Directory page is shown in Illustration 7.


Illustration 7: Report Manager Virtual Directory Page

Settings Page: Windows Service Identity

The Windows Service Identity page supports our specification of the service account under which the Reporting Services Windows Service runs. Here we can modify the settings that were established with the initial installation. (This represents a marked improvement over the previous version).

An example of the Windows Service Identity page is depicted in Illustration 8.


Illustration 8: Windows Service Identity Page

Settings Page: Web Service Identity

Similar in its function to the Windows Service Identity page, the Web Service Identity page affords us a point for the maintenance of the service account under which the Reporting Services Web Service runs. Like the previous service identity tab, the Web Service Identity page allows us to modify the initial installation settings. (Our options are restricted, within this context, if we have not installed Reporting Services on the Windows 2003 Server operating system or above. Should this be the case, refer to the Books Online and other documentation for information about the identities that will be assigned.)

Illustration 9 shows an example of the Web Service Identity page with settings.


Illustration 9: Web Service Identity Page

Settings Page: Database Setup (Database Connection)

The Database Setup (Database Connection) page supports our specification of the report server database, together with the connection credentials used by the report server at runtime. We can also create a new MSSQL Server 2005 database from this page to provide the storage we need to support Reporting Services, if necessary, or, alternatively, we can select an existing MSSQL Server 2000 database for upgrade to MSSQL Server 2005 from this point. Provision has also been made for the deferred performance of some of the settings on this page via scripts.

An example of the Database Setup (Database Connection) page is depicted in Illustration 10.


Illustration 10: Database Setup (Database Connection) Page

Settings Page: SharePoint Integration

The SharePoint Integration page shown in Illustration 11 represents the default scenario, where the report server instance is detected to be running in native mode.


Illustration 10: SharePoint Integration Page

As the page notes, to integrate the report server with the SharePoint product or technology, we would return to the Database Setup (Database Connection) page and designate an existing (or create / upgrade a new) MSSQL Server report server database with which we would integrate our SharePoint Web application.

Settings Page: Encryption Keys

One of the most important uses for the Encryption Keys page is to provide the capability to backup and restore the public encryption key for Reporting Services. As the page notes, the encryption key for report server safeguards sensitive information stored in the report server database.

If we need to modify the account under which the Reporting Services Windows service runs, if the business requirement arises for the deployment of Reporting Services within a web farm scenario, or in other situations that might arise where we might need to extend our existing implementation via the addition of new Reporting Services installations that need to interface with a pre-existing report catalog, we will need to be able to access and restore the encryption key to enable initialization of the report server. The need to back up, and to safely store, the encryption key becomes readily apparent, not just for basic report server recovery in emergencies, but for any of the needs here discussed.

The Encryption Keys page is depicted in Illustration 12.


Illustration 12: The Encryption Keys Page

Settings Page: Initialization

Primarily administrative in nature, the Initialization page also allows us to view the initialization status of a report server. The Initialization page allows us to both initialize and remove report servers.

An example of the Initialization page is shown in Illustration 13.


Illustration 13: Initialization Page

Settings Page: E-mail Settings

Settings for report server e-mail delivery had to be managed, in Reporting Services 2000, via direct modification of the configuration files’ XML. These settings can now be more easily and centrally managed, as a page of the Reporting Services Configuration Manager. The E-mail Settings page allows us to specify Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) service settings, and thus the SMTP server / gateway in our own environments upon which we wish to rely for e-mail delivery.

An example of the E-mail Settings page is depicted in Illustration 14.


Illustration 14: E-mail Settings Page

Settings Page: Execution Account

Last of the tabs in the left pane of the Reporting Services Configuration Manager, the Execution Account page supports the specification of the account under which tab Reporting Services carries out unattended operations. An account with relatively low security / privileges is typically adequate for this purpose. As noted on the page, some functionality is disabled until such an account is specified.

An example of the Execution Account page is shown in Illustration 15.


Illustration 15: Execution Account Page

5.  Click Exit in the bottom right corner of the Reporting Services Configuration Manager to dismiss the Configuration Manager (saving any changes that you have made and wish to keep).

The Reporting Services Configuration Manager can be quite useful to us, whether performing the mandatory configuration of the report server for the first time after a files-only installation, or to verify or modify the configuration settings that were made during setup as a part of a default configuration installation. As we noted, also, we can use the Configuration Manager to update the report server database to the MSSQL Server 2005 format if we are upgrading from a previous version.

Conclusion

In this article, we introduced Reporting Services Configuration Manager, a tool that ships with Reporting Services 2005 and provides a single point of report server configuration. We noted that such a single point of configuration maintenance is a common attribute of enterprise reporting systems, in general. Among several specialized utilities that complement the Report Manager web interface for overall management of Reporting Services, the Reporting Services Configuration Manager provides a central point of Report Server configuration and ongoing management.

After introducing the Reporting Services Configuration Manager, we discussed how it enables us to manage related services, and to specify directories, identities, and database connections, among other details surrounding our installations of Reporting Services. We then undertook an examination of each of these capabilities in the walkthrough that followed, touching upon each of the configuration setting pages to get a detailed understanding of the settings it supports.

» See All Articles by Columnist William E. Pearson, III

Discuss this article in the MSSQL Server 2000 Reporting Services Forum.

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