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Power BI vs SSRS - What are the Differences

Are you confused about what to choose between Power BI and SSRS? Well, you've landed on the right page. Here's a breakdown of what each is, how they compare, and when. Let's take a closer look at Power BI vs. SSRS for a clear understanding.

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Power BI and SSRS are two important Business Intelligence (BI) tools for gathering, integrating, analyzing, and displaying business information. To comprehend business data and gain insights, they help you study, modify and visualize data. It might be challenging for researchers and practitioners to choose which tool to learn or use in their job.

Let's jump into the key differences between Power BI and SSRS and help you overcome a few challenges in making a choice.

Power BI vs SSRS - Table of Content 

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a unified, scalable platform for self-service and organizational business intelligence. It's a set of apps, connectors, and services that work together to turn your unrelated data sources into helpful business decision-making.

It provides a 360-degree view of the business from all diverse sources with personalized dashboards. You can easily connect and visualize data through Power BI.

Enhance your IT skills and proficiency by taking up the Power BI Online Training.

What is SSRS?

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a free reporting platform that runs on a server and is comprehensive and expandable. It has been one of the most valuable tools for a long time. The SSRS service gives an interface into Microsoft Visual Studio to connect to SQL databases and use SSRS tools to design SQL in various complex ways.

What is SSRS?

SSRS generates the following reports:

  • Linked reports
  • Parameterized reports
  • Ad-hoc reports
  • Click-through reports
  • Cached reports
  • Drill-through reports
  • Drill-down reports
  • Subreports
  • Snapshot reports
Enhance your IT skills and proficiency by taking up the  SSRS Online Training.

Basic Difference Between Power BI and SSRS:

Let's see the basic differences between these two business intelligence tools.

  • Power BI is free to use. For SSRS, we need to purchase the license for SQL Server.
  • Power BI is comparatively modern and graphical, whereas SSRS requires more manual effort and time to analyze data and generate reports.
  • Power BI has Cortana-based integration for AI-based experience, while SSRS doesn't support this feature.

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Power BI vs. SSRS

Based on various parameters, let's understand the key differences between Power BI and SSRS.

Parameter Power BISSRS
Technology It is a business intelligence tool that allows us to handle data analysis and report generation.It is server-based, conventional software that analyses data and produces reports.
History To analyze and visualize data, a cloud-based business analytics tool called Power BI report server was introduced in 2017.A single, server-based, scalable platform is available with the original version of SSRS, which was released in 2004 and can be used to meet all business reporting needs.
Usage It's a user-friendly platform with drag-drop features and a rich GUI.SSRS focuses more on coding and programming interfaces, making it less user-friendly.
Implementation The power BI implementation process is simple.SSRS implementation is complex compared to Power BI.
AccessibilityYou can access Power BI through mobile, web, and desktop.You can access the SSRS through the web and desktop.
Licensing The basic versions of Power BI and its reporting server are free to use. However, you need to buy a license to access the premium features.You need to purchase SQL Server licensing to use the SSRS.
Components It’s a server-based report generation and visualization tool in organizations. It’s an open-source and cloud-based service used in the data analysis domain.
Benefits Power BI provides rich graphical features, and is easy to use.SSRS provides great drill-down capacity.
Data dependencyPower BI allows you to work on both structured and unstructured data.SSRS allows you to work on structured and semi-structured data.
Occurrence Power BI can dominate the business intelligence market. It’s preferred over SSRS as a reporting server.SSRS uses old and primitive technology. Even then it’s more in use compared to Power BI.

Why SSRS is better?

Following are the few main reasons why SSRS is better:

  • It provides more accurate decision-making for the users.
  • It supports a host of security features.
  • It allows users to interact with data without any technical expertise.
  • Compared to other crystal reports, it's an intensified tool.
Related Article: SSRS Interview Questions

Why Power BI is better?

Following are the few main reasons why Power BI is better:

  • It provides real-time updates of reports and dashboards backed by AI and Machine Learning.
  • The SaaS solution provides built-in dashboards and reports.
  • It offers a secure connection both in the cloud and on-premises.
  • You can fetch data from any source like SQL, Excel, etc.
  • It provides data cleansing, modeling, visualization, and transmission, all under one roof.

Power BI vs SSRS FAQs

1. Can Power BI replace SSRS?

Power BI is better than SSRS in various functionalities. It provides a richer graphical user experience than SSRS and enables more efficient analytics and data visualization. It can use and display both interactive PBIX reports and analytical XLSX reports.

2. Should I learn Power BI or SSRS?

The choice between Power BI and SSRS depends entirely on user requirements. SSRS is a more cost-effective option if you use paginated reports on-premises. If you already own SQL Server Enterprise Edition with Software Assurance, Power BI Reporting Services be your preferred choice.

3. How is SSRS different from Power BI paginated?

They both deliver pixel-perfect reports. SSRS is used to build server-based reports. Whereas, Power BI is used to create server-based and cloud-based reports. SSRS supports the usage of structured and semi-structured data. Power BI can manage structured and unstructured data. 

4. What is the best alternative to SSRS?

Top Alternatives to Microsoft SSRS

  • Power BI. 
  • Looker. 
  • Tableau 


In this blog, we learned about Power BI and SSRS. We also focused on the differences across business intelligence platforms in terms of features, usage, and other factors. Further, we discovered some reasons influencing organizations' decisions to choose Power BI and SSRS.

If you're interested in improving your Power BI skills, check out MindMajix's Power BI Training Course.  

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Last updated: 06 Jun 2023
About Author


Madhuri is a Senior Content Creator at MindMajix. She has written about a range of different topics on various technologies, which include, Splunk, Tensorflow, Selenium, and CEH. She spends most of her time researching on technology, and startups. Connect with her via LinkedIn and Twitter .

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