Front-End Reporting Tools for Secure Web Service Application with MS-SQL server-2

Disaster Recovery
Microsoft Access
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Windows
Risk management
Security Program Management
SQL Server

We are a Cdn Govt agency involved in Satellite Operations with a commercial partner based across the country. We will need to build/buy a small secure web service application for reporting purposes that will require minimal IT expertise to build or maintain, and will deliver maximum performance in terms of response time and data transfer via the Internet.

Our internal network is fast Ethernet (100 MBPS) and our connection to ISP is 5 MBPS maximum.

The back end RDBMS engine is built with MS SQL server and will be maintained by the partner. The size of the database is expected to grow over a period of 7 years to ~10 GB. The partner has chosen to use MS-Access and Crystal Reports 7 for report generation and is quite satisfied with these as they provide unrestricted views of the database (prefers MS-Access to Crystal). We would need to develop a similar reporting capability but with restricted view of the database to allow us to see only the data that we are entitled to see (i.e. record and column level security must be available).

We need capability to access the tool from remote offices, generate /download reports in Word, Excel and PDF format to the remote offices via the web. The tool should have capability of at least 5 concurrent remote users. On our side, users will have MS-Office with IE Explorer.

The partner does not object to our setting up a web server on their premises with access to the SQL server.

What are some good reporting tool technology choices ? Budget for the tool is below 15K$ CAD.

Thank you for your help.

Answer Wiki

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It depends how much work want to put in. If you’re using SQL Server 2000 then you might want to look into its Reporting Services which can handle quite a bit.

If you really want to save money and you have time to code, check out a product called ActiveReports by Data Dynamics. It’s a series of objects that permit you to build reporting services and it’s not very expensive. It does, however, require more coding.

As for exporting to Excel and Word, you can actually do that from HTML by modifying the response headers(This would export the HTML to these formats). Also if you’re coding in VB/ or any other microsoft environment, you can use VBA or COMs to create Excel and Word Documents.

Be careful if using MS Access. You are using an enterprise level database (SQL Server) and you would be tunneling your reports through a product that, even though, can create reports very easily, is not very robust at handling concurrent connexions (It usually dies at about 10 concurrent users).

Hope this helps,

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  • Solutions1
    Have you looked into database replication, so that you do not have to put a server in the remote office - which could get annoying over the years? If you have your own server at your premises, the partner's MS SQL server can replicate your subset of the database to your own site either as a snapshot or transactionally. Alternatively, the partner who has the SQL server database could set up a separate instance of SQL server and replicate your "share" of the data to that replica.
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