Azure SQL Database is a cloud-based Platform as a Service (PaaS) database engine built for modern cloud applications. It is based on the latest version of the Microsoft SQL Server Database. It is a great solution for customers looking for scalability or providing software as a Service (SaaS) products.
This article will cover our choice of the top 5 (+1 bonus) BI and reporting tools that companies can use to reap the rewards from the Azure SQL Database.
Top 5 BI & Reporting Tools for Azure SQL Database
These are the top five BI and reporting tools that you can use for Azure SQL Database, including one bonus option (scroll down to see).
Power BI is easy to use and very capable at a surface level. However, as users dig deeper, that story seems to change. This powerful reporting tool from Microsoft can connect to many data sources and is affordable and user-friendly. Their data visualization capabilities include custom visualizations from Microsoft Marketplace and display KPIs, maps, charts, graphs, R-script visuals, and more.
Power BI is great for computing simple table relationships, but this may not handle complex table relationships with more than one link so well. Again, the program is user-friendly for simple needs like importing data and creating reports.
However, if the user requires more than just simple reports, they’ll need to use other tools like gateways and Power BI Services. If you have to become a pro at the rest of the suite, it can add to the platform's learning curve for Azure SQL Database.
Domo BI reporting software, built by Josh James in 2010, is a very flexible BI solution with many integration options. Domo allows users to view real-time data from one dashboard and has put some real effort into the presentation on that end.
The interface is quite easy on the eyes, featuring some very creative data displays. The software integrates the users’ data warehouse with its cloud and uses APIs to retrieve data from structured and unstructured data, putting it into one view.
It is worth considering that Domo has very expensive pricing plans for small or medium-sized businesses, which Domo has been somewhat secretive about historically.
Overall, similarly to Power BI, this software is exceptional for easy use, but for serious analysts, especially considering the price point, this may not be the best option.
Looker is a cloud-based BI tool that is built on modern internet architecture. One of its features is the absence of an internal analytics engine.
While that may sound like a deficiency, not having an internal analytics engine means that it generates SQL based on the semantic values as defined by the user. In other words, it allows you to harness the power of your database.
Looker allows you to create custom apps and dashboards.
Some users have reported that Looker has a steeper learning curve than others despite the customization abilities. It does have some limitations in terms of advanced charting, and there have been reports that it can slow down on complex queries.
Another point worth noting is that Looker will not deliver insights out of the box. Looker can be a powerful tool, but it is important to research which specific needs are a priority for your company.
Google acquired Looker in 2019, so it’s part of the Google Cloud now.
Phocas is a very intuitive business intelligence program that focuses heavily on ease of use. This can be useful for users who aren’t necessarily analysts but salespeople.
You can set up a complete novice with the basics and, in about 10 minutes, have them off and running on their own. It has the capabilities to allow users to build their dashboards and databases, and their support team is known to be very good as well.
Some ease of use does lag behind in certain tasks, like customizing reports, which have been somewhat cumbersome to perform. It also performs a daily dataset dump which can take up a lot of space.
SQL Azure Reporting
If you are already familiar with SQL Server’s built-in reporting tool, then you will already know its cloud-based counterpart. The main story with the feature-rich SQL Azure Reporting is the familiarity of the format.
It uses the same format as SQL Server Reporting Service (SSRS), which means that you can use all the reports previously written for SSRS in SQL Azure - same report, different database.
This BI tool is accessible from a browser. As long as you can enter your SQL Azure Reporting URL and login, it is right there for you to use on the web. Like SSRS, it is built for developers, so this could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your role.
The Bonus Option for Azure SQL Database: It’s DashboardFox!
We have talked about five possible BI and reporting tools you can use for the Azure SQL Database. But, we mentioned a bonus option, and this is the part where we take a bow and introduce ourselves. Hi, we’re the bonus option: DashboardFox.
DashboardFox has proven itself repeatedly in competitive situations as the best BI and reporting tool for Microsoft SQL environments, including the Azure SQL Database.
And we’re not just winning on price (which our non-subscription pricing model is sure to make you happy). For one, you can take advantage of our many options for data visualization, allowing you to create dashboards that are both interactive and informative without losing key information in the process.
We are also self-hosted, which means your data is safe with us and far from the prying eyes of hackers and the likes.
Plus, included for one year with our software is our priority support team, where you can get top-notch support from us (many vendors charge professional services for what we provide clients). You can also rely on our team of experts to not just help you with bugs and fixes but to help you achieve your goal with business intelligence.
Feel like a VIP without paying overcharged fees with DashboardFox.
This is where our introduction stops, and the application begins. We invite you to see for yourselves what wonders DashboardFox can bring to your business once you choose us to be a part of your operations. Reach out to us, or book a live demo for free.