Configuring SSRS 2016 Integrated Mode with SharePoint 2016

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) has experienced some very significant improvements in the 2016 version. As has been the case Since SQL Server 2005 SP1, it runs in either Native, or SharePoint Integrated mode. Integrated mode (the subject of this article) requires SharePoint 2016, and it is required for SharePoint to be able to render Power View reports in a browser.  This article walks through the setup and configuration of SSRS 2016 Integrated mode in a SharePoint 2016 farm.

The process for setting up SSRS in Integrated mode is little changed with 2016. The process consists of installing the bits on the SharePoint server(s), creating and configuring the service applications, deploying the solution, and configuring document libraries to contain report elements.

Installing SSRS 2016 on Sharepoint Servers

When running in integrated mode, SSRS MUST be installed on a server that is part of the SharePoint farm. This only makes sense because it is deployed as a SharePoint Service Application. Unfortunately, the fact that is distributed as part of the SQL Server media causes confusion for some.

As of this writing, SSRS must be installed on a SharePoint 2016 that is configured in a Custom Role. MinRoles are new to SharePoint 2016, and SSRS does not support any other role than the Custom role. If your server is not running the Custom role, installation will succeed, but SSRS will be shut down by the roles engine during the next maintenance window. In order to check which role your server is using, and to possibly change it, you can use either PowerShell or Central Admin. With Central Admin, the setting is found in “System Settings”, under the “Servers” category as “Convert server role in this farm”.

Selecting this option opens the role configuration dialog, which is quite simple.

If the role is already set to Custom, you are good to go. Otherwise, it can be changed with the “New Role” drop down dialog.

Once the correct role is in place, SSRS can be installed. The first step is to mount the SQL Server media on a SharePoint server, and run the standard SQL Server installer. SSRS Integrated mode is part of the Shared Features collection (ie no SQL instances are installed), and it consists of two parts.

The first option, “Reporting Services – SharePoint” is the actual SSRS Service application. This should be installed on any SharePoint servers allocated to doing the heavy lifting of rendering reports – the “app” servers. The second option “Reporting Services Add-in …” is used to connect a SharePoint server to an instance of the SSRS Service application. This should be installed on any SharePoint front-end servers at a minimum, but I recommend installing it on all of them as a convenience.

After a few “Next”s and “OK”s, the SSRS bits should be installed on a server. The next step is to Create and configure the Shared Service Application itself.

Creating the SSRS Shared Service Application

Once the bits are installed, an SSRS Service application is created in the same manner as any other service application. From the Service Applications interface in Central Administration, select “New” from the ribbon, and then select “SQL Server Reporting Services Service Application”.

You will then be presented with a configuration dialog where you will need to specify a name for the service and a few other configuration parameters.

I typically use the same application pool as most of the other SharePoint services, and I always change the name of the database. The default database name contains a GUID, and nobody likes GUIDs in their database names. The SSRS will actually create 3 databases, one with the name specified, and two others that use this name as a base. Also, if you’ll be using other Reporting Services databases on the same SQL Server – for Native mode as an example, it’s a good idea to name it so that it’s easily distinguishable. In this example “Integrated” is added to the end.

Scrolling down, you’ll see options for activating the SSRS features in all of the farm’s site collections. The features can be activated from the site collections as well; this is simply a convenience.

Once saved, additional SSRS configuration items can be configured, and should be. At the very least, the subscription options should be configured, and the encryption key should be backed up, but these operations are not essential for basic setup, so they will not be done here. The next operation will be to enable a document library for SSRS reports.

Creating a Reporting Library

Enabling a document library in SharePoint for SSRS reports is unchanged from the past several versions. The first step is to add a new document library by going into “All Content” for a site, and selecting “Add an App”. You may be tempted to select “Reports” or “Report Document Library” at this point – don’t. The “Reports” library template that ships with SharePoint 2016 and prior contains content types for creating Excel documents in prior versions, web pages – that’s it. It has nothing to do with SSRS reports.

Select a Simple document library, give it a name (something like SSRS Reports, or SSRS library), and let it be created. Then, go into the library settings, click Advanced settings, and enable the use of content types. Next, add the SSRS content types to the library by clicking “Add from existing site content types”, selecting the “SQL Server Reporting Services Content Types” category, and then selecting “Data Connections” and “SSRS Report”. Unless you have a specific need, do not add the “Report Builder Model” content type. Models are a deprecated artifact and exist only for backward compatibility.

Once added, click OK, and you will be returned to library settings. At this point I like to remove the “Documents” content type from the list to restrict it to reports, but that will depend on your requirements. At this point you should be able to create a new report or data source by selecting new in the library’s ribbon and choosing the appropriate item. This library can now be used to store reports.

The final step is to enable and confirm support for Power View.

Power View Support

Power View support in SharePoint 2016 is provided through SSRS Integrated mode (and ONLY through SSRS Integrated mode). It is manifested in 3 different areas:

  1. Creating and viewing a standalone Power View report from a data connection
  2. Creating and viewing a standalone Power View report from an Excel workbook in a PowerPivot gallery
  3. Using a browser to view a Power View report contained in an Excel workbook

1. Creating and viewing a standalone Power View report from a data connection

Standalone Power View reports utilize BISM (BI Semantic Model) connections. BISM connections can be added to a SharePoint library by adding the “BI Semantic Model Connection” content type to the library – this would normally be done for a connections library. A BISM connection can also be created through an SSRS data source by selecting “Microsoft BI Semantic Model for Power View” as its data source type.

Creating a Power View report from either connection type follows the same process. In the library, click the ellipsis for the connection, and then the second ellipsis. From there, select “Create Power View Report”

Provided that Silverlight is available on the client, Power View should launch, and you should be able to build a report on the underlying data.

2. Creating and viewing a standalone Power View report from an Excel workbook in a PowerPivot gallery

Creating a Power View report is significantly simpler. Once SSRS is installed, it adds a small Power View icon to every workbook that is in a Power Pivot gallery.

Simply click on the icon, Power View will launch, and you can build a report on the data model that is contained in the workbook. There is however one additional step necessary for this to work. Because the data model is actually stored in the SSAS PowerPivot mode server(s), and it is SSRS (remember, Power View is part of SSRS) that is working with the model (not OOS), the service account for SSRS needs to be added to the Administrators list on the SSAS PP mode server(s). In our case, the service account is NAUTILUS\spServices.

3. Using a browser to view a Power View report contained in an Excel workbook

Power View reports that have been embedded in an Excel workbook require no additional configuration, they should “just work” once SSRS is configured. However, as with the PowerPivot gallery, SSRS needs access to the data models, and therefor its service account needs to be in the administrators list (see above).

Wrapping Up

Once installed and configured, you will have access to the new HTML5 based rendering engine and new visuals available to SSRS 2016. You will also be ale to work with your existing Power View investments. However, you will not be able to use the new mobile reports, Reporting Dashboards, Parameters customization, and Power BI integration. For that, you’ll need a Native mode SSRS instance, and yes, it can be connected to SharePoint. That will be the topic of an upcoming article.