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On a recent forum post, I saw a user complaining that it was too difficult to get CR Server installed, so they are just going to write an ASP.NET web page to host their reports. When I read this, the first question that came into my mind was, “If all you need to do is host your reports on a web page where your users can click on some report links, why would you want to invest in a dedicated server and a $7,000 license fee in the first place????” Then it occurred to me that maybe people don’t know why you need CR Server. Unless you have an unlimited budget, I certainly hope that you would take some time researching it before allocating $10K+ in a solution that may be overkill.

Let’s look at this user’s scenario. He is going to have one of his developers build a web page, post links to their reports on it, and host it on a page on their intranet. Will this work?

If the environment is a small business, then most likely this scenario will be just fine. An ASP.NET reporting solution can generate reports quickly enough where the users will not notice a lag or get their report requests rejected. I haven’t looked at the licensing model in a quite a while, and it seems to change every few months anyway, but CR.NET should be able to process 3 concurrent reports at a time. This means that once a report is queued up till it finishes processing, it is allocated one process. Three can be queued up simultaneously, but a fourth report will get rejected. Since most reports are usually generated very quickly, they are removed from the queue fast enough where a small office won’t ever see a report get rejected from that fourth slot. An ASP.NET reporting solution can support an office with a large number of users assuming that their jobs only require printing reports on a periodic basis.

It appears that the user who posted the original forum question will be fine with an ASP.NET web page on their intranet. If they find that their reporting needs out-grow this solution, upgrading to CR Server is just a matter of installing CR Server and loading their reports onto it. The original ASP.NET web page can be discarded b/c CR Server will handle the heavy processing of all report requests.

In this post, we saw that in some circumstances the best solution is to build a simple ASP.NET reporting solution to host your reports. After all, you don’t need to drive a Ferrari to go to the grocery store. In the next post, we’ll look at some scenarios where you need CR Server b/c the ASP.NET solution discussed here won’t meet your needs.

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