Welcome to the third in our video webcast series, Introducing Alerting and Reporting Pack-- ARP-- 1 with Dell Site Administrator 5 for SharePoint. My name is Chris McNulty. I am Chief Technology Officer for Dell Software.
So earlier in the series, we've already spoken through what's in the ARP, what's inside Site Administrator, and how do those things relate to Microsoft's vision for Business Intelligence. In the second video, I've walked you through how to make sure that SQL Server Reporting Services-- SSRS-- is properly configured, walked through the installation of ARP, and configuring Site Administrator to provide the right data to those ARP reports.
Today we're going to be getting to the meat of it. We're going to show you those reports, how they work, and how to use them to set up alerts. Finally, external data integration will be the fourth in the series. That will be an example for how to enhance the data supplied through the repository database with other line of business sources to provide-- and the example we'll walk through will be a billing chargeback model. That said, let's get into reports and alerts.
SQL Server Reporting Services reports are usually consumed in one of two ways. When running in Integrated mode, we recognize that you've got a unified web interface users are very used to browsing-- lists and libraries to find files. Each report essentially becomes a file in a library. And if a user wants to view the report, they click on it.
And the Context menu will give them other things that they can do with it if they want to trigger alerts or edit the report or look at the parameters that go into that report. You can also embed those reports directly in the page. When we get to demo, we'll walk through examples of each of those things.
One of the powerful capabilities that Microsoft introduced in the R2 edition of SQL 2008 is alerts. We know that self-service Business Intelligence is important. And as reports and BI take off in an enterprise, there's a lot of contention for eyeballs. And users can't remember all the places where there might be interesting data or which values they're most interested in.
The alert engine takes care of that for you. So rather than a user visiting every report every day to try to remember what it looked like yesterday and see what's changed, users or administrators can dive directly into a report, choose criteria that they want to evaluate for numbers that cross certain threshold-- or above or below will remain a certain way-- how often do they want that alert to be tested-- by minute, by hour, by day, less frequently-- and then deliver a message to them by email letting them know it's time to go take a look at that report.
In the Site Admin space, we know there are lots of examples where users or administrators are going to want to be notified as things change. Some key examples, obviously, are if a database size approaches that magic 200-gig threshold, administrators are going to want to know.
If any files are generating particularly high version counts, 10 seems like a good number. We've seen places where there are up to 2,000 versions of the same file that are out there in the organization, and getting alerts is usually a good way of handling that issue. Particularly high usage levels, particularly low disk space. You're only constrained by your imagination in terms of what you're going to do to set up alerts.
Once those alerts are set up, here's how they get run. The user inside the report invokes the Alert Designer. They're going to set up those criteria, they're going to save the definition of that alert. They'll be written back into the SSA database for reporting services. And in doing that, the user is going to invoke the creation of a SQL Server agent job.
That agent job is intended to watch that subscription. And it will fire based on whatever frequency the user said they want that report to fire on. When that job runs, the alert becomes read back in the database. The alerting engine will read the data feed in the report, test those conditions. And if those conditions are met, they're going to deliver that message via email back to the chosen subscriber.
When the user receives something that's nicely formatted inside of their email, here we're looking at it in Outlook form, where you'll see the specific line item that triggered the result, what rules were passed in order to send this, as well as a link to let the user view that report in context with the other data as it currently stands. So it's a powerful way of making sure users stay appropriately engaged with data-centric content in much the same way that they stay in touch with the unstructured document-based content that SharePoint has a rich tradition of providing.
So I'm going to step over to my trusty Site Administrator for SharePoint site here inside SharePoint 2013. I'm going to come into the library that we have already set up and configured that has all of the reports that I want to work with here. And let's go take a look at a good medium-level report. Let's go take a look at Site Collections.
All I have to do to view this report is click on it. And the default interface will come up. And here it shows me everything it knows about Site Collections and my environment. And I'll see here they are grouped by web app and by farm, each URL that's there, what's the title, when was it created, who created it and when, how big is it. That's the Site Administrator report in a nutshell.
If I wanted to, for example, find a value in this report, you can type it here. I probably don't need to do a lot of searching in a single-page report. But it'll come out and it'll find any instances of that report, of that value that's hid out there.
It's also a big tradition for what I can do here. Amongst other things, I can export this report. So from a user perspective, being able to export to Excel is probably the most important feature. Based on the report, they may also want to export to Word or PDF or any of the other data-friendly formats.
A user can also choose to open this in Report Builder. We'll be walking through that in the fourth video of this series. But Report Builder is the means by which someone could, if they have the right edit rights to the report, open this up and make some changes to it.
If we look at a slightly larger report-- let's go back into our library. So let's look at the Documents and Pages report. So the Documents and Pages report is fairly lengthy. And to optimize delivery to the browser, we only open up the first page or two. We can jump using this arrow all the way to the end to see what's out there. Looking at this report, we can see all the values that are there. It's a 54-page report, because it's compiling a large pool of data based on everything that's out there in the enterprise.
Again, if I want to search for something-- let's look for my name since I'm a bit of an egomaniac. And it's going to come and it's going to find the first instance for me in the report. Then I can use Find Next, continue to tab through it. You can see everything that's in the Documents and Pages report. And there's a lot of values that are in that report.
I also can take these reports and open up them up as a data feed. So if I am using the Excel version of a tool like PowerPivot or anything that can consume that XML-, XSL-based means of accessing the data, that's what's there for you right here. It used the Atom service that's intrinsic to the way Reporting Services works. We'll cancel out of that. If I think this report may have changed, I can refresh it. But odds are it probably hasn't.
Alerts. Let's take a look at a good use case for alerts. One of the most common requests we hear about and one of my most common bits of advice to administrators is to watch the size of your content databases. Two hundred gigabytes is a support threshold. Unless you have a particularly fast disk subsystem, you're going to run into issues if your content databases get to be larger than that. The Content Database report is using Site Admin's capability to monitor those things and report on the physical and logical size of each of the content databases across the enterprise.
So we can look at this report. This report, to be compact, is built to be auto-expanding. Here's where most of my content is. We can see the size of it right there. 727,500,203 is the current size. This is relatively small. We have about a Gig of data all told in this environment.
But let's suppose I don't want to have to remember to check this report weekly. I don't want to have to check this report ever. But I'm an administrator, and I want to set up a new data alert. I can come here and choose the New Data Alert function. And the Alert Designer interface will open up.
In this interface, the Designer exposes the report structure, so it can see what data is out there available. It says, alert me if any data has, and right now there's no rules. We could say, if any data or if no data. We can cut that rule any different way.
And say, I want to get content size. And let's suppose I want a content size is greater than or equal to 1, that value. And say I want to check this hourly. I've already set up the alert. There's a few options I may want to check. When do I want to start? Do I want to stop the alert?
Finally, send a message only if alert results change. So the reason for doing this is based on what you're alerting. If you're looking for a period of high usage and you had that alert triggered to fire every minute or every hour, it might become background noise to receive an email every minute telling you that today this site has had 1,000 visitors. So this option, which is selected by default, is only going to fire the first time you cross that threshold.
And we give this an email address. We'll send it to me. Again, see above, egomaniac. I like to send myself messages. What's the subject? Data alert for content databases. Demo time. Save. And that alert's been saved.
If I'm an administrator, if I have administrative access to this library, I can also look at any of these reports and inspect what's going on in them inside the Management interface to choose Manage Data Alerts. When I choose that, the interface opens up, and it's going to show me what alerts are set for a particular user or for any particular report.
Let's say I want it to show all. And it's showing me I'm the only user who set up alerts in this library so far, which is to be expected since this is my demo area. And we can see everything that's out there for Documents and Pages. When was the alert created? Has it ever run? How frequently does it run?
If I want to test an alert-- here's one I want to test. It last ran at 10:00 AM this morning. I can take a look and say, I want you to run this again and see if any issues come up. This one obviously has never been tested. We probably want to run this.
So I can come back to the system in a few minutes and see how things are running. We can see my alerts in general are running fine. None of my data thresholds have been crossed, so I'm not expecting to receive any of those emails. But in a nutshell, here's the way the Data Alerting function works.