SSRS support has been among the most frequently requested new features and the Windocks now supports SQL Server containers with SSRS running as a Windows Service. SSRS supports native mode on SQL Server 2008 through SQL Server 2019. SSRS containers combined with database cloning provide efficient support for Development and Test, and for production reporting systems, and runs on any on premise infrastructure or public cloud.

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Setup and Planning:

Windocks installs on Windows Server 2012 R2 , 2016, or 2019, with SSRS support for all editions of SQL Server 2008 through 2019. Install on a machine that has one or more SQL Server instances that can be managed by the Windocks service, which clones the instance to create containers. SQL Server containers are lightweight (~300 MB), so can be stored on the system disk, or assigned to a separate disk. Database clone images are each a full byte copy of the data environment, and should be stored on a separate disk or network attached storage. The automated Windocks install takes 10-15 minutes to complete.

SQL Server Images and Containers

A new SQL Server image that includes the database engine and SSRS running in a container as Windows Services (mssqlreport-20XX).

Provision a SSRS container

Following the install the Windocks service auto-starts. Open a command prompt and enter >docker images to view available images. To create a SSRS container enter >docker create mssqlreport-20XX. The command line returns the ContainerID and port. In this example Windocks is configured to deliver a SQL sa password in plain text, but this can be configured to allow for no sa password or for it to be encrypted. Start the container using >docker start ContainerID using 2-3 digits of the ContainerID to obtain a unique match. >docker ps provides a list of containers, and confirms the new container is running.

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Open SSMS to access the database engine and Report Server. Use the loopback address for the engine with a comma separator and port (127.0.0.1,1000X). Access the Report Server using the machine name and Instance1000X (machinename\Instance1000X). Windocks supports either Windows authentication or SQL sa credentials.

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PowerShell is popular for automation, and containers can be delivered running with >docker run -d imagename. Containers are stopped with >docker stop ContainerID, and deleted with >docker rm ContainerID.

Configuring the SSRS container

Open the Configuration Tool for the SQL release you're working with. For SQL Server 2016: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\SQLServer\130\Tools\Binn\RSConfigTool. The SSRS container can be configured to use different service accounts, databases, email accounts, and URL’s.

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Combining SSRS Containers with Database Clones

Database clones are read/write supporting databases accessed from a Windows Virtual Hard Drive (VHD). Clones can scale from one to scores of databases and to multi-terabytes, and are delivered in seconds with less than 40 MB of storage. Clones are created from a parent VHD image that is a read-only full byte copy of the data, which is built using full or differential backups.

A plain text configuration file (Dockerfile) specifies the backups along with SQL scripts used to create the image. The resulting image is a full byte copy of the data, and requires time involved in the backup restore process. The example below uses four full backups located on the Windocks host. Universal file paths are used for network located backups. The parent VHD is built in the same location as the first backup listed.

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Build the image with >docker build -t imagename c:\path\to\dockerfile. Containers are created using >docker create imagename, or with >docker run -d imagename. A user-defined port is included using -p 10XXX and an assigned SQL sa password with -e SA_PASSWORD=”password”. User defined ports and credentials are popular for developers working with .NET or Java applications.

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Working with the Windocks web UI

Windocks support for standard Docker commands and industry standardization on Docker and Kubernetes. But, developers and testers generally prefer to work with a simpler web UI. Access the Windocks web UI with either Chrome or Firefox browser and enter “localhost” and when the page resolves enter the local loopback address (127.0.0.1). Remote clients use the Windocks host IP address. The available images are presented, along with the option to select a subset of the data image, and to assign a port and sa password.

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After submitting the “deliver” option the page refreshes to show the new container at the bottom of the Data Environments list, with the port and assigned sa credentials (the sa credentials are not exposed on the UI). The environment can be accessed with SSMS and the SSRS Configuration Tool as discussed earlier.

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The web UI also includes support for image building. Browse to the Dockerfile and scripts, highlight and select the files, assign an image name and “build.”

Try SSRS containers out!

Windocks SSRS support is available today and you're invited to evaluate the software by registering here. You can learn more about how SSRS containers are used with AWS RDS and SQL Azure databases here. We appreciate feedback and feature requests. Please email support@windocks.com to let us know what you think, or if you have questions.