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Is SQL Reporting Services Free

SSRS Free By Mike Bennyhoff

Navigating the vast landscape of business intelligence (BI) software can feel like charting a course through complex, interconnected systems. Among the many tools at your disposal, SQL Reporting Services (SSRS) by Microsoft is a stalwart for the reporting tool front, providing organizations with the power to create, share, and manage reports to provide business insights like never before. But an essential question lingers for the budget-conscious and the inquisitive alike: when is SSRS Reporting Services free, truly free?

In this extensive post, we will explore the true cost of SQL Reporting Services, both in terms of monetary investment and the intrinsic value it offers. We target data analysts, business owners, and IT professionals who constantly evaluate the tools critical to their work. By dissecting SSRS’s features, comparing its offerings to other reporting tools, and examining real-world scenarios, we aim to demystify the cost and rewards of integrating SQL Reporting Services into your BI toolkit.

Understanding SQL Server Reporting Services

SSRS 2022 Home Screen

The Bedrock of Business Intelligence

SQL Reporting Services, part of the Microsoft BI stack, is a server-based database and report generation software system that enables companies to manage and deliver a variety of interactive and printed reports. Whether you need to create invoices rendering reports, run financial reports, or produce analyses of large datasets, SSRS provides a robust platform to fulfill these needs and more.

A Compendium of Capabilities

What makes SSRS stand out are its extensive report server capabilities. It supports ad hoc reporting, wherein users can generate their reports without IT involvement. . Report and report server management tools help in organizing reports into folders, subscribing to published reports, and viewing reports through e-mail or a web-based application.

Further, SSRS supports various delivery methods, including on-demand, interactive, and embedded dynamic reports as well as the ability to schedule reports for delivery through e-mail, file share service, web portal, or notification system. This degree of flexibility is crucial for organizations across diverse industries.

A Look at the Competition

To gauge the value proposition of SSRS reports, it's necessary to compare it with its competitors, which include tools like Tableau, Power BI, and Salesforce. These tools often boast a more intuitive, user friendly interface and quicker, data visualization analysis features. However, SSRS shines in its ability to provide detailed, heavily branded, and versatile reports with higher control and customization options.

Cost Analysis - Is SQL Reporting Services Free

Generic Report Like SSRS

The Nuts and Bolts of SSRS Pricing

Understanding the pricing structure of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) can be crucial for organizations planning to implement or scale their reporting solutions. Based on the context provided, it's evident that the SSRS service pricing varies depending on several factors including deployment options, whether it is hosted on-premises or on a cloud platform like Azure, and the licensing model of the SQL Server reporting service itself. Below, we delve into the nuts and bolts of SSRS pricing to provide a clearer picture.

On-Premises SSRS Pricing

For on-premises deployments, SSRS is included with SQL Server. The cost of SSRS, therefore, is essentially tied to the licensing of SQL Server. Microsoft SQL Server offers different editions (Enterprise, Standard, Developer, and Express) each with its own pricing model, primarily based on either the number of cores in the server or Server/CAL (Client Access License) model.

Developer Edition: This edition is free but can only be used for development, testing, and demonstration purposes.

Express Edition: Also a free version, designed for small databases with limited functionality and does not include SSRS.

Standard and Enterprise Editions: These are paid editions, with pricing based on per core or Server/CAL (SQL Server 2017 costs $1,859 per core for Standard or free edition and $7,128 per core for Enterprise edition). The Enterprise edition provides the full capabilities of SQL Server, including advanced SSRS features.

Azure SSRS Pricing

When deploying SSRS in Azure Virtual Machines, pricing depends on the size of the VM and the SQL Server edition chosen. It's a more flexible approach allowing you to scale resources as needed. However, this flexibility comes with ongoing operational costs:

As mentioned earlier versions however, running SSRS on an Azure VM using the SQL Enterprise gallery image could cost over $1,600 (StackOverflow), which reflects the higher end of Azure VM pricing combined with SQL Server licensing fees.

Another source cited a cost of approximately $80/month for a virtual machine with SSRS, which might refer to a smaller or differently configured VM, possibly using a new version lower-cost SQL Server edition or benefiting from reserved instance pricing.

SQL Report Server (SSRS) Free with SQL Server

It's important to note that SQL Reporting Services is free with SQL Server, Is in the sense that there is no additional cost for SSRS users beyond the SQL Server license itself. This makes SSRS an attractive option for companies already invested in SQL Server (Yurbi Blog).

Benefits of Using SQL Reporting Services

A Pixel-Perfect View of Your Data

One of the most compelling benefits of using SSRS is the degree of report customization it offers. Users can exercise granular control over the layout, formatting, and type of content in their reports. This is particularly advantageous for mobile devices and for organizations that rely on specific brand standards for mobile reports or need to present their data in a highly consistent and recognizable format.

Integration is King

SSRS does not exist in isolation. It is designed to seamlessly integrate with other powerful Microsoft BI tools such as SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) and SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS). This deep integration can provide a holistic view of your data management, analysis, and reporting processes, which is invaluable for achieving a cohesive BI strategy.

The Community Speaks

The SQL Server Reporting Services community is vast and supportive. From forums and user groups to a wealth of online resources, help is readily available. This robust community can be a valuable asset for businesses looking to create reports or to run reports and tap into the collective knowledge and experience of other users for troubleshooting or innovative report design ideas.

Audience Relevance

Data Analysts: Your Reporting Companion

For data analysts, SSRS can be their trusty sidekick in the vast quest for complex ways to derive insights from data. With its ability to make data sources generate complex reports and its alignment with SQL databases, data analysts can turn SSRS into a powerful arsenal display data used for their analytical endeavors.

Business Owners: Reporting, Refined

For business owners, a cost-effective reporting solution such as SSRS directly impacts the bottom line. Access to accurate, timely, and informative reports can influence strategic decision-making, helping to identify trends, challenges, and opportunities that would otherwise remain hidden.

IT Professionals: The Backbone of BI

IT professionals are vital to the success of any BI implementation, managing and troubleshooting the data set and tools in the background. Integration of SSRS requires steady hands and clear understanding, and the tool’s varied usage across departments makes it a skill worth honing within the IT domain.

Does Reporting Services Require A SQL License

SSRS Report Builder

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is indeed part of the SQL Server package, and it does not require an additional license if it's installed on the same server as the SQL Server engine. This applies assuming you are using the Standard Edition or a higher edition of SQL Server. Here's a breakdown of the key points regarding SSRS licensing:

Included in SQL Server Package: SSRS is included with SQL Server, meaning that if you have a valid license for SQL Server, you can use SSRS without needing to purchase a separate license for it (Microsoft Answers, Spiceworks Community).

Standard Edition Compatibility: SSRS can be used with SQL Server Standard Edition, eliminating the need for a special license or the necessity to upgrade to an Enterprise Edition for SSRS functionality (Microsoft Answers).

CAL Not Always Required: While Server+CAL (Client Access License) licensing is an option for SQL Server, it's not mandatory unless specifically needed for your deployment scenario. The decision between Core-based licensing and Server+CAL licensing depends on the specific needs and architecture of your SQL Server environment (DCAC).

Multiple Servers Consideration: If SQL Server components (Database Engine, Analysis Services, Reporting Services) are deployed across multiple servers, each server requires its own license. This means that if SSRS is installed on a separate database server, from the SQL Server database engine, an additional SQL Server license for that server would be required (Get Licensing Ready).

Licensing Every Machine Running SSRS: Any machine running SSRS must be licensed as if it were running SQL Server. This underscores the requirement for appropriate licensing when deploying SSRS, especially in distributed environments where the SSRS tools may be installed on separate machines from the SQL Server database engine (InformIT, SQLServerCentral).

Where Can I Download SSRS

Sample 2022 SSRS Report

To download SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), you can visit the add on the web portal of the Microsoft Download Center or the official Microsoft documentation page. Here are the steps to download SSRS based on the provided context:

Navigate to the Microsoft Download Center at for Microsoft SQL Server 2019 Reporting Services.

Alternatively, for SQL Server 2022 Reporting Services, you can download it from the official installation guide page at

These sources provide the official and most up-to-date versions of SSRS for installation. Always ensure you're downloading software from official and reputable sources to avoid security risks.


The question of whether SSRS is truly free deserves more than a straightforward yes or no. Its cost extends beyond monetary investments and encompasses the value it brings to the table. For organizations that value control, customization, and integration with existing Microsoft tools, SSRS may be a fee-free gem. For those seeking a more extensive suite of reporting and analytics capabilities, the Power BI Premium option provides a clear path forward.

In an age where information is vital, the decision to integrate SQL Reporting Services into your business operations should be driven not just by cost but by the potential value it can unlock. Data analysts, business owners, and IT professionals should approach this choice by considering the unique needs and goals of their organization. With the right strategy and support, SSRS can deliver a robust and reporting service environment that contributes to the success and growth of your enterprise.

SQL Licensing Mistakes (SSRS)

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