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James Serra's Blog

James is a big data and data warehousing technology specialist at Microsoft. He is a thought leader in the use and application of Big Data technologies, including MPP solutions involving hybrid technologies of relational data, Hadoop, and private and public cloud. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence architect and developer. He is a prior SQL Server MVP with over 30 years of IT experience. James is a popular blogger (JamesSerra.com) and speaker, having presented at dozens of PASS events including the PASS Business Analytics conference and the PASS Summit. He is the author of the book “Reporting with Microsoft SQL Server 2012”. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Azure SQL Data Warehouse pricing

The pricing for Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW) consists of a compute charge and a storage charge.  For compute, it is not based on hardware configuration but rather by data warehouse units (DWU).  DWU can be scaled up or down via a sliding bar in just a… Read more

0 comments, 105 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 June 2016

SQL Server 2016 is here!

Today is the day: SQL Server 2016 is available for download!  You can download all the versions (enterprise, standard, web, express with advanced services, express, developer) of SQL Server 2016 now if you have a MSDN subscription, and you can also create an Azure VM right now that includes… Read more

1 comments, 213 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 1 June 2016

Azure Storage pricing

Azure storage is a great, inexpensive solution for storing your data in the cloud.  There are many types of Azure storage options, but I wanted to list here the pricing of the most common type: block blob.

The pricing below is based on the East US region (most other… Read more

1 comments, 222 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 25 May 2016

Migrate from on-prem SQL server to Azure VM IaaS

Hopefully you went through my presentations Should I move my database to the cloud?Introducing Azure SQL Database and Implement SQL Server on an Azure VM and are convinced to move your databases to the cloud.  If you are going to migrate to Azure SQL Database and want more… Read more

1 comments, 1,254 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 18 May 2016

Azure Speed Testing

Have you ever wondered what Azure region would be the fastest to host your applications when those applications are accessed from your office?  Obviously the closest data center would probably be the best choice (each region has multiple data centers), but how do you know what data center is the… Read more

0 comments, 868 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 May 2016

New Azure storage account type

In Azure, there previously has been only one kind of storage account, which is now called a “General Purpose” storage account.  Just introduced is a new kind of storage account, called “Cool Blob Storage”.  When creating a storage account, the “Account kind” will now list two options: the existing type… Read more

4 comments, 375 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 4 May 2016

SQL Server 2016 available June 1st!

Woo hoo!  Microsoft has announced that SQL Server 2016 will be generally available on June 1st.  On that date all four versions of SQL Server 2016 will be available to all users, including brand new ones, MSDN subscribers, and existing customers.

Here is a quick overview of the tons of… Read more

0 comments, 178 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 May 2016

Big Data architectures

Over the last few years I have been involved in reviewing the architectures of various companies that are building or have built big data solutions.  When I say “big data”, I’m referring to the incorporation of semi-structured data such as sensor data, device data, web logs, and social media.  The… Read more

4 comments, 2,019 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 29 April 2016

Azure SQL Database pricing

Pricing Azure SQL database is difficult because various database service tier options such as database transaction units (DTU’s), max database size, disaster recovery options, and backup retention days are used to determine pricing instead of hardware (CPU/RAM/HD).  Generally I recommend starting out with a low service tier and scaling as… Read more

1 comments, 1,216 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 22 April 2016

Analytics Platform System (APS) AU5 released

The Analytics Platform System (APS), which is a renaming of the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), has just released an appliance update (AU5), which is sort of like a service pack, except that it includes many new features.  Below is what is new in this release:

The AU5 release… Read more

0 comments, 227 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 14 April 2016

Scaling Azure VM’s

There are so many benefits to the cloud, but one of the major features is the ease of use in scaling a virtual machine (VM).  A common scenario is when you are building an application that needs SQL Server.  Simply create a VM on the Azure portal that has SQL… Read more

1 comments, 209 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 April 2016

My latest presentations

I frequently present at user groups, and always try to create a brand new presentation to keep things interesting.  We all know technology changes so quickly there is no shortage of topics!  There is a list of all my presentations with slide decks and videos in some cases.  Here are… Read more

0 comments, 247 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 29 March 2016

Data loading into Azure SQL Data Warehouse

Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW) is a new platform-as-a service (PaaS) that distributes workloads across multiple compute resources, called massively parallel processing (MPP).  Loading data into a MPP data warehouse requires a different approach, or mindset, than traditional methods of loading data into a SMP data warehouse.

To help… Read more

1 comments, 252 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 March 2016

Microsoft Azure Government

I’m sure you are aware of Microsoft Azure, but are you aware there is special version of Azure for U.S. governments?

Microsoft Azure Government is a cloud computing service for federal, state, local and tribal U.S. governments.  It was generally available in December 2014 after a year in preview.… Read more

0 comments, 213 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 15 March 2016

SQL Server on Linux!

Looks outside: pigs are flying!

In an announcement yesterday, SQL Server will be made available on Linux.  The private preview of SQL Server on Linux is available now, and Microsoft is targeting availability in mid-2017.  Microsoft will offer both on-premises and cloud versions of the product (via Linux VMs).… Read more

1 comments, 457 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 March 2016

Cross-database queries in Azure SQL Database

A limitation with Azure SQL database has been its inability to do cross-database SQL queries.  This has changed with the introduction of elastic database queries, now in preview.  However, it’s not as easy as on-prem SQL Server, where you can just use the three-part name syntax DatabaseName.SchemaName.TableName.  Instead, you… Read more

5 comments, 335 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 March 2016

HP Superdome X for high-end OLTP/DW

No, Superdome X is not the name of the stadium where they played in the last Super Bowl.  Rather, Superdome X is HP’s top of the line server running Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014.  It can handle up to 288-cores and 24TB of memory!  It use the… Read more

1 comments, 862 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 24 February 2016

Azure SQL Database security

Life we be so much easier if we could just trust everyone, but since we can’t we need solid security for our databases.  Azure SQL Database has many security features to make you sleep well at night:

  • Transparent data encryption (TDE).  This encrypts your databases, associated backups, and transaction…

Read more

2 comments, 563 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 February 2016

Azure SQL Database monitoring

Even though an Azure SQL Database stores all data on the Azure cloud, it does not mean that your options for managing and monitoring the databases are limited compared to on-prem databases.  In fact, the options available are very similar to on-prem, including 3rd-party products that support Azure SQL databases.… Read more

0 comments, 365 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 February 2016

Scaling Azure SQL Database

One of the advantages Azure SQL Database has over on-prem SQL Server is the ease in which it can scale.  I’ll discuss the various options for horizontal scaling, vertical scaling, and other similar features.

Horizontal scaling refers to adding or removing databases in order to adjust capacity or overall performance.… Read more

3 comments, 331 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 3 February 2016

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