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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.

Should I load structured data into my data lake?

With data lakes becoming very popular, a common question I have been hearing often from customers is, “Should I load structured/relational data into my data lake?”.  I talked about this a while back in my blog post What is a data lake? and will expand on it in this blog.… Read more

3 comments, 236 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 27 November 2018

Premium blob storage

As a follow-up to my blog Azure Archive Blob Storage, Microsoft has released another storage tier called Azure Premium Blob Storage (announcement).  It is in private preview in US East 2, US Central and US West regions.

This is a performance tier in Azure Blob Storage, complimenting… Read more

1 comments, 2,385 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 November 2018

SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters

At the Microsoft Ignite conference, Microsoft announced that SQL Server 2019 is now in preview and that SQL Server 2019 will include Apache Spark and Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) for scalable compute and storage.  This new architecture that combines together the SQL Server database engine, Spark, and HDFS into… Read more

1 comments, 1,329 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 22 October 2018

Azure SQL Database Hyperscale

At Microsoft Ignite, one of the announcements was for Azure SQL Database Hyperscale, which was made available in public preview October 1st, 2018 in 12 different Azure regions.  SQL Database Hyperscale is a new SQL-based and highly scalable service tier for single databases that adapts on-demand to your workload’s… Read more

1 comments, 1,898 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 16 October 2018

Azure Database Migration Service (DMS)

As I first mentioned in my blog Microsoft database migration tools, the Azure Database Migration Service (DMS) is a PaaS solution that makes it easy to migrate from on-prem/RDS to Azure and one database type to another.  I’ll give a brief overview of some of the key features:

The… Read more

1 comments, 2,426 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 26 September 2018

Azure SQL Database Read Scale-Out

Read Scale-Out is a little-known feature that allows you to load balance Azure SQL Database read-only workloads using the capacity of read-only replicas, for free.

As mentioned in my blog Azure SQL Database high availability, each database in the Premium tier (DTU-based purchasing model) or in the… Read more

2 comments, 2,393 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 September 2018

Azure SQL Database disaster recovery

My last blog post was on Azure SQL Database high availability and I would like to continue along that discussion with a blog post about disaster recovery in Azure SQL Database.  First, a clarification on the difference between high availability and disaster recovery:

High Availability (HA) – Keeping your database… Read more

3 comments, 948 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 29 August 2018

Azure SQL Database high availability

In this blog I want to talk about how Azure SQL Database achieves high availability.  One of the major benefits from moving from on-prem SQL Server to Azure SQL Database is how much easier it is to have high availability – no need for creating and managing a SQL Server… Read more

2 comments, 506 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 22 August 2018

Power BI: Dataflows

Dataflows, previously called Common Data Service for Analytics as well as Datapools, will be in preview soon and I wanted to explain in this blog what it is and how it can help you get value out of your data quickly (it’s a follow-up to my blog Getting value out… Read more

7 comments, 2,885 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 3 August 2018

Power BI new feature: Composite models

There are two really great features just added to Power BI that I wanted to blog about: Composite models and Dual storage mode.  This is part of the July release for Power BI Desktop and it is in preview (see Power BI Desktop July 2018 Feature Summary).  I’ll also… Read more

0 comments, 534 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 27 July 2018

The need for having both a DW and cubes

I have heard some people say if you have a data warehouse, there is no need for cubes (when I say “cubes” I am referring to tabular and multidimensional OLAP models).  And I have heard others say if you have OLAP cubes, you don’t need a data warehouse.  I strongly… Read more

10 comments, 2,961 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 20 July 2018

Monitoring Azure SQL Database

There are a number of options to monitor Azure SQL Database.  In this post I will briefly cover the built-in options and not 3rd-party products that I blogged about a while back (see Azure SQL Database monitoring).

Monitoring keeps you alert of problems.  Another reason monitoring helps you is… Read more

0 comments, 2,173 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 July 2018

Azure Data Lake Store Gen2

Big news!  The next generation of Azure Data Lake Store (ADLS) has arrived.  See the official announcement.

In short, ADLS Gen2 is the combination of the current ADLS (now called Gen1) and Blob storage.  Gen2 is built on Blob storage.  By GA, ADLS Gen2 will have all the features… Read more

3 comments, 2,368 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 June 2018

Analytics Platform System (APS) AU7 released

The Analytics Platform System (APS), which is a renaming of the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), has just released an appliance update (AU7), which is sort of like a service pack, except that it includes many new features.

Below is what is new in this release:

Customers will get… Read more

0 comments, 461 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 18 June 2018

Analytics Platform System (APS) AU7 released

The Analytics Platform System (APS), which is a renaming of the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), has just released an appliance update (AU7), which is sort of like a service pack, except that it includes many new features.

Below is what is new in this release:

Customers will get… Read more

0 comments, 481 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 18 June 2018

Understanding Cosmos DB

Cosmos DB is an awesome product that is mainly used for large-scale OLTP solutions.  Any web, mobile, gaming, and IoT application that needs to handle massive amounts of data, reads, and writes at a globally distributed scale with near-real response times for a variety of data are great use cases… Read more

1 comments, 297 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 June 2018

Understanding Cosmos DB

Cosmos DB is an awesome product that is mainly used for large-scale OLTP solutions.  Any web, mobile, gaming, and IoT application that needs to handle massive amounts of data, reads, and writes at a globally distributed scale with near-real response times for a variety of data are great use cases… Read more

1 comments, 3,232 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 June 2018

Getting value out of data quickly

There are times when you need to create a “quick and dirty” solution to build a report.  This blog will show you one way of using a few Azure products to accomplish that.  This should not be viewed as a replacement for a data warehouse but rather as a way… Read more

2 comments, 632 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 30 May 2018

Getting value out of data quickly

There are times when you need to create a “quick and dirty” solution to build a report.  This blog will show you one way of using a few Azure products to accomplish that.  This should not be viewed as a replacement for a data warehouse but rather as a way… Read more

2 comments, 262 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 30 May 2018

Microsoft Build event announcements

Another Microsoft event and another bunch of exciting announcements.  At the Microsoft Build event this week, the major announcements in the data platform space were:

Multi-master at global scale with Azure Cosmos DB.  Perform writes on containers of data (for example, collections, graphs, tables) distributed anywhere in the world.… Read more

1 comments, 217 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 May 2018

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