Microsoft CRM comes uses Crystal Reports for its reporting engine. Now I have always hated Crystal, I just never got my head around it and felt it was always constraining me.
So when Microsoft announced SQL Reporting Services and that one of the Report Packs was for MSCRM I was intrigued. When I found out SQL Reporting Services comes with SQL at no additional cost I thought there is something more to this.
SQL Reporting Services consists of a series of web services and management tools running on your SQL Server to provide reports. You use Visual Studio to develop reports – there is a Visual Studio addin for this. You can also develop the reports in XML if you so desire although Visual Studio is far easier and cheaper than Crystal Reports Developer which you need to amend or create new Crystal Reports for CRM.
Microsoft has further stated that future versions of MSCRM will use SQL Reporting Services for reporting so it really is no decision and all new reporting requirements we are doing use SQL rather than Crystal. We use both the URL and SOAP interfaces to meet different needs and apart from printing (which I am told in coming soon in SP2) it is the ideal reporting solution for us.
More details of SQL Reporting Services can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/reporting/
Make sure you get Service Pack 1 http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=580FEBF7-2972-40E7-BCCF-6CD90AC2F464&displaylang=en
The Reports Pack for CRM which contains six example reports for CRM can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=619EEF04-DDDA-4811-A8E9-A7147A446624&displaylang=en
Give it a try and check back later to find out what I have been doing with SQL Analyticsm SQL Reporting and Sharepoint.