Excel Services are a key component in the Microsoft Business Intelligence strategy, which involves delivering key information, in real time, to the right audience, and in the format they can most easily work with. One of the challenges in complex organizations is the need to aggregate and display mission-critical information about the business pipeline-figures that help decision makers understand where the organization is succeeding in its stated objectives and where it is falling behind. Much of that information is often maintained in Microsoft Office Excel workbooks that are continuously updated by the information workers responsible for day-to-day operations in the organization.
The strength of Excel has always been the flexibility it gives users to create a data repository quickly and easily and to implement sophisticated data processing, charting, and analysis without the lengthy effort required to build a full-scale database application. The downside of the ease that Excel offers is that much of this data becomes spread throughout the organization in a disaggregated state, with no effective means to tie these workbooks into database-driven decision support systems.
Excel Services gives you the ability to integrate Excel workbooks into your information management architecture by consolidating them in common document libraries and publishing the spreadsheets, charts, and graphs on your SharePoint sites. Data can be combined with data from other databases and back-end systems and summarized into key performance indicators to give decision makers an "at-a-glance" view of the status of a project or business area.
It has always been possible to upload an Excel workbook to a Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services document library to make it available to others. However, users who wanted to view the data had to have Excel installed on their local machine and download the entire workbook to their system to open it. Excel Services will render the spreadsheet into HTML for display in a Web Part or in a full-screen browser, and you can control what parts of the spreadsheet users have access to. Only files produced in Office Excel 2007 can be submitted to Excel Services for rendering on the server, and only two file formats specifically are supported: XLSX and XLSB.