Microsoft Business Intelligence Tools for Excel Analysts (2014)
PART IV: Appendixes
APPENDIX B: Considerations for Delivering Mobile BI
A business intelligence platform is not complete without the ability to deliver dashboards and reports via mobile devices. The Microsoft BI platform addresses your mobile access requirements via an array of ever-increasing deployment options. As of this writing, accessing Microsoft BI functionality via mobile devices includes the following deployment scenarios:
· With SharePoint 2010 or 2013 and a supported mobile device, you can view sites in the Business Intelligence Center, browse Excel Services reports, interact with PerformancePoint dashboards, and access Reporting Services reports.
· With Power View and a supported mobile device, you can view dashboards and data visualizations in HTML5 (currently in Preview).
· Using Office 365 and a supported mobile device, you can deploy Excel Services dashboards and Reporting Services reports. A licensing option called Power BI includes more BI functionality than is available with the standard Office 365 subscription.
· With SQL Server 2012 SP1 or later and a supported mobile device, you can view Reporting Services reports, available in the SQL Server Report Manager, using Internet Explorer 10 (or later) or Safari. These reports can be accessed via an iPad, Windows phone, or Windows Surface.
In the following sections, we list each of these deployment scenarios along with caveats and prerequisites.
Check the online Microsoft resources frequently for updates. The list of available technologies for mobile use cases changes frequently, and you want to be aware of the latest options before committing to a deployment plan.
Mobile Deployment Scenarios and Considerations
There are several considerations for addressing mobile use cases, including the type of device (tablet, smartphone, and so on), the operating system running on that device, and the browser. We discuss each of these in the following sections.
In addition to the deployment scenarios that address hardware, software, and settings, there are considerations for offering reports and dashboards to your users via their mobile devices. One of the most important considerations is how the report or dashboard renders on a given device. The same report or dashboard can look completely different depending on whether it is viewed in a desktop browser, a tablet, or a mobile phone. Some planning and testing is required for large-scale deployments to ensure that your dashboards and reports have a professional and consistent look and feel. Though beyond the scope of this book, there are strategies to improve the user experience, such as creating multiple views of the same content so that the optimal user experience can be triggered depending on the device being used.
The list of supported devices for SharePoint and other Microsoft BI applications is continuously changing. In general, Apple and any manufacturer running Windows Phone or Windows 8 or 8.1 OS are supported. Android is supported for accessing SharePoint 2013 sites using a rendering setting called contemporary view.
· Apple: Both the iPhone and the iPad are widely used devices. iOS 5 or greater is needed to run most Microsoft BI functionality (some Microsoft BI applications require iOS 6 or greater).
· Microsoft: In 2012, Microsoft released the Windows 8 operating system, which included many features intended to address mobile use cases. Microsoft's own tablet, Surface Pro 2, runs Windows 8. And as of this writing, there are numerous other manufacturers with tablets running the Windows 8 operating system, including Samsung, Acer, Lenovo, and Asus. Many of the Microsoft BI capabilities are compatible with mobile devices running Windows 8.
The following Windows operating systems are currently supported for Microsoft BI functionality: Windows Phone 7.5 or greater, Windows RT, and Windows 8 or greater.
The list of supported devices, operating systems, and apps is constantly changing. To get the very latest information on what devices and operating systems are supported, use your favorite search engine to look up Mobile Support Microsoft Business Intelligence Tools.
Browser-based deployments on mobile devices
There is a wide range of options for viewing SharePoint and Reporting Services content using mobile devices. For example, SharePoint 2013 can be rendered using a setting called contemporary view, which optimizes the rendered view for mobile devices and expands the range of supported devices and browsers to include not only the iPhone, iPad, and Windows Phone devices, but also Android devices running Android 4.0 or later. Contemporary view achieves this level of flexibility by rendering Web pages using HTML5.
In addition, Power View, running in SharePoint or Office 365, supports the same level of flexibility by rendering in HTML5.
Running apps on mobile devices
For many mobile devices, native apps can be downloaded and run on the device. These apps are typically developed specifically for the operating system and user controls that are available on the mobile device. Several apps that offer Microsoft BI functionality have been developed for Windows 8 or greater and are available in the Windows Store for downloading on a compatible device. For example, there is a Power BI app that runs on Windows 8.1 if you have an Office 365 Power BI subscription account. The list of apps that provide enhanced Microsoft BI functionality on mobile devices is expected to grow.
Launched in 2011, Microsoft Office 365 provides organizations with subscription-based pricing for Microsoft Office, SharePoint, Exchange, and other productivity applications. In addition, Office 365 serves as a cloud-based platform for hosting SharePoint and other business applications. By extension, an organization can license a given number of seats and provide these users with the BI functionality that comes with SharePoint.
In 2013, Microsoft expanded its Office 365 licensing models to include Power BI. This package includes Power Pivot, Power View, Power Map, and SharePoint. There are several key benefits to using Office 365 for mobile deployments. These include subscription-based pricing for SharePoint and reduced setup and maintenance.
To take advantage of the BI capabilities offered by Office 365, users require a compatible device or Web browser. Currently, supported devices include the iPad (running iOS 6 or greater) or any device running Windows 8 or greater. Desktop Web browser access is supported for Safari or Internet Explorer 10 or greater.
SQL Server Reporting Services
Some organizations run SQL Server Reporting Services in native mode, meaning that you can access reports via the Web, but outside of SharePoint. This is possible because SQL Server Reporting Services includes a built-in Web server, or alternatively, the option to leverage Internet Information Services, the standard Windows Web server, as a means for deploying reports over the Web. The Report Manager page serves as a catalog of reports that can be browsed by end users.
When viewing Reporting Services reports on a mobile device, you can leverage all the features that have made Reporting Services a popular enterprise tool. For example, you can expand and collapse report areas showing a plus or minus indicator, apply sorts and filters (also called parameters), and click hyperlinks. Reports can also be exported to TIFF, PDF, XML, CSV, MHTML, Excel, and Word.
When reports are hosted natively using Reporting Services, users can access them using iPad running iOS 6 or greater, or Windows Phone or Surface running Windows 8 or greater. In addition, SQL Server must be 2012 SP1 or greater.
When using Apple’s Safari browser, you cannot view reports in Report Manager, and the only report export options are TIFF and PDF.
SharePoint 2010 and 2013
This book has highlighted many applications that run as part of SharePoint and are intended to provide reporting, data visualization, and other business intelligence functionality for end users. Users with compatible mobile devices can access many of the same SharePoint features that are provided to desktop users. Aside from the ability to open Excel, Word, and PowerPoint documents, SharePoint mobile functionality includes
· Browsing sites in a SharePoint Business Intelligence Center
· Interacting with Reporting Services and Excel Services reports
· Interacting with PerformancePoint dashboards
· Exporting to PowerPoint or Excel
As of this writing, compatible mobile devices include iPad running iOS 5 or greater, tablets running Windows 8, devices running Windows Phone 7.5 or greater, and Windows Surface running Surface RT. Supported browsers include Safari and Internet Explorer Mobile.
New in SharePoint 2013, contemporary view is a user setting (that is, selected on the device) that causes pages to be rendered in HTML5. Not only does this view optimize the Web content layout for mobile devices, it also allows SharePoint content to be rendered on Android (as well as on the standard supported browsers).
In order to allow users to select contemporary view, the Mobile Browser View feature must be activated for the SharePoint site. This feature ensures that the mobile device is running a compatible browser and OS before rendering pages in HTML5.
The default setting of Classic View causes pages to be rendered in standard HTML format. This format looks exactly like SharePoint 2010.
Using the Full-Screen UI setting causes the content to look exactly like it would on a desktop computer, though more zooming and scrolling is required to see the entire screen.
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