Microsoft BI vs SQL Server comparison

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Comparison Buyer's Guide
Executive Summary

We performed a comparison between Microsoft BI and SQL Server based on real PeerSpot user reviews.

Find out what your peers are saying about Microsoft, Tableau, Amazon and others in BI (Business Intelligence) Tools.
To learn more, read our detailed BI (Business Intelligence) Tools Report (Updated: November 2023).
745,341 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
"I like having the ability to connect Excel files as data inputs.""What I like about Power BI is how fast you are able to create dashboards and how fast you are able to fetch the data. You can connect to the database or data source, and then you can design your dashboards very easily.""The solution is easy to use and charts can be built quickly with the tools.""The flexibility of the program is valuable. We are able to add other information to the reporting information and expand upon it.""What's most valuable in this tool is that it gives its users detailed error messages. It's a very stable data analytics tool, and it offers good scalability.""You don't need much support with Microsoft Power BI because it has such a large base of users who can answer your questions on their forums. There are also many video tutorials and webinars available online that offer solutions to whatever problems you may have.""Like all Microsoft products, it is very easy to set up initially.""I find Power BI's reporting feature the most valuable. The solution has improved a lot. There are new features getting added day by day. In the past, they didn't even have the printing feature, but now they have it."

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"I love SQL Server's Common Table Expression. In addition to that, I like its lead and lag functions. That helped us reduce a lot of code when comparing rows in SQL Server.""The tool helps us by being available always.""It is easy to deploy and easy to maintain.""The technical support that Microsoft provides is great.""For my business requirements, the performance is good.""SQL is stable.""SQL Server is similar to other Microsoft products, such as BI, they are easy to use. You do not need to have an expensive BD to maintain them. All the useful intuitive features you find in Microsoft solutions you will find in SQL Server.""I like the availability group functionality. We are setting up more clusters using availability groups. The enterprise licensing or Software Assurance makes it a little bit cheaper as well. It is nice to have that read-only copy for reporting and everything else."

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"From an improvement perspective, I think if the Power BI developers of that platform would really focus on being more detailed and specific on the error messages, it would help a lot of developers troubleshoot and maintain the report ECT or the dashboard ECT.""There could be an integrated AI that can automatically analyze some of your data and highlight or provide suggestions. For example, when you are looking at a data set, it can suggest putting it into a certain type of chart so that you gain different insights or a trend line. You would almost have templates that it would recommend for you.""The handling of the workspaces can be made more granular for user access rights. It can be managed a little bit better in terms of the connection to Active Directory so that we have more granular access rights. I am not sure if this is really possible or if we can solve it differently, but we need a lot of workspaces, and we are not sure how we can deal with it from the access rights perspective.""The interface could be improved.""I would like to see more visualization options.""I'm missing collaborations functionality to operate or to work connected with multiple people on a data source or on virtualization. There should be more collaborations functions, such as in Confluence. We haven't explored the solution sufficiently in this area, but at this time it doesn't look sufficient.""I find the solution to be 70 percent stable.""Power BI doesn't support some open-source data sources that are new, such as SnowSQL, Iceberg, or ClickHouse."

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"On the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) side, I have noticed more bugs in terms of being able to connect to our SQL servers. I can't tell how many times my recent server list got dropped or cleaned out. It is a pain, and it would be nice to have that recent connect list when you connect in. For whatever reason, once in a while, I get a hard error, and it'll close. When I go back in, everything is cleared out. It is annoying when you are working with more than a hundred database instances.""Their support could be better. There should be more visibility on the progress of the ticket, and their last line of support should be more knowledgeable. Other than that, we have nothing to complain about.""Something that could be improved is the cost because it's very high. That's the only thing I'm concerned about but the technology is good.""I would say that people should know how to get a SQL setup in place since it might be an area where they lack when it comes to the solution.""Performance could be improved.""We have no vision. We don't know when or how we have been hacked.""There should be more security updates for the product.""When we run into problems, it's usually during installation, and finding answers to the problem has been a nightmare because the documentation is terrible."

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Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "In the beginning, the solution cost approximately $1,000 per month, we have a Microsoft startup subscription. There is a subscription pack for startups company which we are able to have for one year."
  • "If you purchase a license for a server, for users, or the professional version, you might not have to. The free version I think it can satisfy many customers' needs."
  • "We have enterprise licenses and some of the other tools or features come as a package and others you have to purchase separately."
  • "We're charged a monthly subscription fee of 500 rupees per person."
  • "They have a free Power BI Desktop version, but it has limitations."
  • "It's straightforward licensing."
  • "I have not had a customer suggest the solution is too expensive. There are licenses to use the solution."
  • "Both cost-wise and implementation-wise, this product is a good choice."
  • More Microsoft BI Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "The price of the solution is fine."
  • "There is a license to use this solution. However, the model is not easy to understand. There is a guide you have to read about all the information on how it works. If you read this documentation, you can understand how it works. We are paying for our SQL Servers by CPU cores with an enterprise license."
  • "Licensing fees are paid on a yearly basis."
  • "Licensing fees increase depending on size and performance. If you want higher performance, you should go for a different course."
  • "For licensing, we pay yearly. The licensing is very expensive, and it should be cheaper."
  • "Although it comes with a cost, using the most recent version is highly advisable, since it would ensure a certain measure of bug fixes and stability. The sole issue would involve the cost, as this is expensive."
  • "Its licensing is yearly. There are no additional costs. There is only the subscription license."
  • "Synapse is a bit costly. If I compare it with different databases, I think it's a reasonable price"
  • More SQL Server Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer:There are many...It would rather depend what System BI architecture or Enterprise legacy you have at your end...I would recommend as follows:  1) If you have legacies of SAP, Oracle  - look for SAP… more »
    Top Answer:Power BI is an advanced visualization tool oriented to big data with a very complete set of widgets to visualize information, control users accessing information, the configuration of governance… more »
    Top Answer:Oracle OBIEE is great in allowing design and creativity per the individual needs of the organization. Dashboards are fully customizable and very user-friendly. This solution is very stable. Oracle… more »
    Top Answer:SQL Server is fairly priced because it has various editions, depending on the number of users, servers, or core packs you are using. If you compare the product to others in this category, the prices… more »
    Top Answer:SQL Server has helped my organization through partitioning to distribute the workload, as it splits them up into smaller pieces so the machines can easily deal with it. However, this comes with a high… more »
    Top Answer:My company connects through SQL Server authentication. We have company Windows accounts, but we do not want to connect the two, out of security concerns and to keep things separated for our own… more »
    Average Words per Review
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    Also Known As
    SSRS, SSAS, MSBI, MS Reporting Services, Power BI, Microsoft BI Tools, Microsoft Big Data, Power BI Pro, MS BI
    Microsoft SQL Server, MSSQL, MS SQL
    Learn More

    Microsoft BI is a business intelligence solution that connects to all your data sources and turns your data into insightful and useful business information that is relevant to all levels of the business, ensuring data accuracy, consistency, and security.

    Microsoft BI combines familiar Microsoft tools - Office, SharePoint, and SQL server - with extra features for end-users, such as Power View and Power Pivot. This powerful product gives businesses a competitive advantage by allowing end users to better analyze their data, collaborate, and better present their data.

    The BI platform empowers members of your organization to make data-driven decisions that drive strategic actions quickly by allowing them to work together easily on the same data, share insights, and collaborate on reports using other Microsoft Office applications.

    Microsoft BI Benefits

    Some of the benefits of using Microsoft BI include: 

    • Scalability: Easily scale the Microsoft BI platform to help reduce costs and minimize the security risks and complexities that arise as a result of maintaining multiple systems.
    • Secure analytics: Protect your data with sophisticated data security features, including sensitivity labeling, end-to-end encryption, and real-time access monitoring. View and share meaningful AI-based insights enriched by data visualizations.
    • Regular user-driven innovative updates: Get weekly and monthly updates that improve the capabilities of Power BI based on thousands of ideas submitted each year from a community of over 500,000 members worldwide.
    • Seamless integration with Microsoft products: Microsoft BI connects with Microsoft 365, allowing you to create Excel queries, data models, and reports for the Power BI dashboards. These integrations make it easy to collect, analyze, publish, and share Excel business data.
    • Access Microsoft BI from any location: BI can be accessed at any time from anywhere using its mobile app, allowing ease of access to distributed teams or businesses across many locations. The business intelligence platform also enables teams to work on any file at the same time.
    • User-friendly dashboard: View and manage your data in a user-friendly and intuitive customized dashboard. The Microsoft BI platform enables teams to work independently while exchanging analytics between different departments and users. With Microsoft BI, you can easily create personalized dashboards that combine on-premises and cloud data into a single view, allowing you to monitor enterprise data from multiple business applications.
    • Easy installation: Install the platform in minutes just by creating an API key and inputting it into the software.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Microsoft BI stands out among its competitors for a number of reasons. Two major ones are its integration options and its data analytics capabilities.

    Tariq R., an operations & BI analyst at American Hospital Dubai, writes, “Power BI is a complete ecosystem. It has an integrated ETL tool and good connectivity with applications such as Office 365 and SQL. Power BI supports the DAX and Power Query M languages. These languages are making Power BI very strong in data analytics, and you can do many types of analysis. ”

    SQL Server is a relational database management system (RDBMS) by Microsoft. The product's main purposes are to store data and retrieve it as requested by other software applications - on the same computer or on another computer across a shared network. The solution is built on top of Structured Query Language (SQL), which is a standardized programming language used for relational database management.

    The product is tied to Transact-SQL (T-SQL), which is an implementation of SQL from Microsoft that adds several proprietary programming extensions to the standard language. SQL Server is built similarly to other RDBMS products, as its structure is a row-based table that connects related data elements in different tables to one another. One of its most important components is the SQL Server Database Engine, as it controls data processing, storage, and security. Beneath the Database Engine is the SQL Server Operating System, which is used for memory and I/O management, locking data to avoid unneeded upgrades, and job scheduling.

    The solution has four editions with different sets of services and tools. They include:

    • SQL Server Developer
    • SQL Server Expression
    • SQL Server Standard 
    • SQL Server Enterprise

    The first two are available for free and are typically utilized by smaller companies, as they work with fewer functions and storage. The second two editions are generally used by bigger organizations and enterprises and offer more features.

    The solution has several functions through which users can facilitate different data-related processes. These include:

    • Aggregate functions: These functions are used to calculate one or more values and return a single value.

    • Window functions: Window functions calculate an aggregate value based on a group of rows and return multiple rows for each involved group.

    • Date functions: These functions allow clients to handle data and time data efficiently.

    • String functions: Through the string functions, SQL Server processes an input string and returns a string or numeric value.

    • System functions: The system functions of the product return objects, values, and settings.

    SQL Server Services

    SQL Server has a wide range of add-on services that provide additional benefits beyond database management. These services include:

    • Machine learning: SQL Server machine learning services allow users to do machine learning and data analytics within the product.
    • Service broker: This feature is a part of the database engine and offers messaging and message queuing for applications on the platform.

    • Replication: This feature consists of transaction replication, merge replication, and snapshot replication. 

    • Analysis: SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) adds online analytical processing (OLAP) and data mining capabilities to SQL Server databases.

    • Reporting: This feature supports the development of custom reporting applications.

    • Notifications: This feature generates data-driven notifications which are sent to subscribers of Notification Services.

    • Integration: This SQL Server feature provides capabilities for data integration, data import, and data warehousing.

    • Full-text search: Through this feature, users can utilize specialized indexing and query for unstructured text stored in the solution.

    • Visual studio: This feature supports data programming with SQL Server.

    • Azure Data Studio: This is a cross-platform query editor that can be downloaded and used alongside SQL Server.

    SQL Server Benefits

    The solution has many benefits for users. These include the following:

    • The platform ensures a consistent experience across other platforms while being fast and agile.

    • Through the built-in intelligence features, users can understand their data better.

    • The solution has enterprise-level security, which ensures the smooth and safe performance of users' data.

    • SQL Server offers the ability to retrieve large amounts of data quickly and efficiently.

    • The product installation process is fairly easy, and it offers a user-friendly interface.

    • SQL Server offers improved data storage and retrieval functions through frequent upgrades.

    • The solution reduces the risk of database server attacks, since it is not an open-source database.

    Reviews from Real Users

    A president at a consultancy evaluates SQL Server as a veteran solution with critical log shipping feature

    Harkamal S., a user at a manufacturing company, rates SQL Server with a high mark because it is a stable, scalable, and easy-to-deploy solution that pretty much covers everything.

    Learn more about Microsoft BI
    Learn more about SQL Server
    Sample Customers
    Konica Minolta, Klout, Mahindra Satyam, The Weather Channel, Argus, Credit Suisse, NCR, and Sysmex.
    Microsoft SQL Server is used by businesses in every industry, including Great Western Bank, Aviva, the Volvo Car Corporation, BMW, Samsung, Principality Building Society, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario.
    Top Industries
    Financial Services Firm14%
    Manufacturing Company13%
    Computer Software Company11%
    Energy/Utilities Company9%
    Educational Organization34%
    Financial Services Firm8%
    Computer Software Company8%
    Financial Services Firm18%
    Computer Software Company12%
    Manufacturing Company10%
    Comms Service Provider5%
    Educational Organization41%
    Financial Services Firm8%
    Computer Software Company8%
    Manufacturing Company5%
    Company Size
    Small Business39%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise45%
    Small Business14%
    Midsize Enterprise41%
    Large Enterprise46%
    Small Business42%
    Midsize Enterprise21%
    Large Enterprise38%
    Small Business13%
    Midsize Enterprise47%
    Large Enterprise39%
    Buyer's Guide
    BI (Business Intelligence) Tools
    November 2023
    Find out what your peers are saying about Microsoft, Tableau, Amazon and others in BI (Business Intelligence) Tools. Updated: November 2023.
    745,341 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Microsoft BI is ranked 1st in BI (Business Intelligence) Tools with 83 reviews while SQL Server is ranked 1st in Relational Databases Tools with 51 reviews. Microsoft BI is rated 8.0, while SQL Server is rated 8.2. The top reviewer of Microsoft BI writes "User friendly, easy to set up and great for analyzing data". On the other hand, the top reviewer of SQL Server writes "Good performance, well-priced, trivial to set up, and helpful support". Microsoft BI is most compared with Amazon QuickSight, Tableau, KNIME, Domo and Oracle OBIEE, whereas SQL Server is most compared with MariaDB, Oracle Database, SAP HANA, LocalDB and Teradata.

    We monitor all BI (Business Intelligence) Tools reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.