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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.

Public preview of Azure SQL Database Managed Instance

Microsoft has announced the public preview of Azure SQL Database Managed Instance.  I blogged about this before.  This will lead to a title wave of on-prem SQL Server database migrations to the cloud.  In summary:

Managed Instance is an expansion of the existing SQL Database service, providing a third… Read more

4 comments, 603 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 March 2018

It’s all about the use cases

There is no better way to see the art of the possible with the cloud than in use cases/customer stories and sample solutions/architectures.  Many of these are domain-specific which resonates best with the business decision makers:

Use cases/customer stories

Microsoft IoT customer stories: Explore Internet of Things (IoT) examples… Read more

1 comments, 132 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 March 2018

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 so there is no shortage of topics!  There is a list of all my presentations with slide decks.  Here are the new presentations I… Read more

3 comments, 361 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 26 February 2018

Azure Data Architecture Guide (ADAG)

The Azure Data Architecture Guide has just been released!  Check it out: http://aka.ms/ADAG

Think of it as a menu or syllabus for data professionals.  What service should you use, why, and when would you use it.  I had a small involvement in its creation, but there were a large number… Read more

1 comments, 813 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 15 February 2018

Conversations with Data Warehouse Experts – Podcast

In this podcast I talk with Mike Rabinovici of Dimodelo Solutions about data being the new currency, the importance of showing customers the art of the possible, and last but not least my go to TV show.  Click here to listen.  Also check out the podcasts of other data… Read more

2 comments, 317 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 February 2018

Data Virtualization vs. Data Movement

I have blogged about Data Virtualization vs Data Warehouse and wanted to blog on a similar topic: Data Virtualization vs. Data Movement.

Data virtualization integrates data from disparate sources, locations and formats, without replicating or moving the data, to create a single “virtual” data layer that delivers unified data services… Read more

2 comments, 1,070 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 February 2018

Reference architecture for enterprise reporting in Azure

As I mentioned in my recent blog Use cases of various products for a big data cloud solution, with so many products it can be difficult to know the best products to use when building a solution.  When it comes to building an enterprise reporting solution, there is a… Read more

2 comments, 369 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 January 2018

Is the traditional data warehouse dead?

There have been a number of enhancements to Hadoop recently when it comes to fast interactive querying with such products as Hive LLAP and Spark SQL which are being used over slower interactive querying options such as Tez/Yarn and batch processing options such as MapReduce (see Azure HDInsight… Read more

10 comments, 1,329 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 22 December 2017

What is Azure Databricks?

Azure Databricks (documentation and user guide) was announced at Microsoft Connect, and with this post I’ll try to explain its use case.  At a high level, think of it as a tool for curating and processing massive amounts of data and developing, training and deploying models on that… Read more

1 comments, 2,188 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 20 November 2017

Microsoft Connect(); announcements

Microsoft Connect(); is a developer event from Nov 15-17, where plenty of announcements are made.  Here is a summary of the data platform related announcements:

  • Azure Databricks: In preview, this is a fast, easy, and collaborative Apache Spark based analytics platform optimized for Azure. It delivers one-click set…

Read more

1 comments, 353 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 15 November 2017

Analytics Platform System (APS) AU6 released

Better late than never: The Analytics Platform System (APS), which is a renaming of the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), released an appliance update (AU6) about a year ago, and I missed the announcement.  Below is what is new in this release, also called APS 2016.  APS is… Read more

0 comments, 694 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 7 November 2017

Azure SQL Database Managed Instance

Azure SQL Database Managed Instance is a new flavor of Azure SQL Database that is a game changer.  It offers near-complete SQL Server compatibility and network isolation to easily lift and shift databases to Azure (you can literally backup an on-premise database and restore it into an Azure SQL Database… Read more

4 comments, 657 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 31 October 2017

Microsoft Ignite Big Data Presentations

There were so many good presentations at Microsoft Ignite, all of which can be viewed on-demand.  I wanted to list the big data related presentations that I found the most useful.  It’s a lot of stuff to watch and with our busy schedules can be quite challenging to view… Read more

0 comments, 1,265 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 October 2017

Use cases of various products for a big data cloud solution

There are a tremendous amount of Microsoft products that are cloud-based for building big data solutions.  It’s great that there are so many products to choose from, but it does lead to confusion on what are the best products to use for particular use cases and how do all the… Read more

3 comments, 711 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 October 2017

What’s new in SQL Server 2017 presentation

I just uploaded a new presentation called “What’s new in SQL Server 2017”.  It covers all the new features in SQL Server 2017 (which went GA this past Monday), as well as details on upgrading and migrating to SQL Server 2017 or to Azure SQL Database.  Check out the… Read more

0 comments, 519 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 October 2017

Microsoft Ignite Announcements

Many product announcements were made this week at Microsoft Ignite, and I wanted to give a quick overview of all the data platform related announcements:

  • SQL Server 2017 on Linux, Windows, and Docker, generally available on October 2nd.  SQL Server 2017 is being released simultaneously for Windows and various…

Read more

2 comments, 606 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 September 2017

Distributed Writes

In SQL Server, scaling out reads (i.e. using Active secondary replicas via AlwaysOn Availability Groups) is a lot easier than scaling out writes.  So what are your options when you have a tremendous amount of writes that scaling up will not handle, no matter how big your server is?… Read more

9 comments, 521 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 September 2017

Azure Archive Blob Storage

Last week Microsoft released a public preview of a new service called Azure Archive Blob Storage, offering customers a lower-cost cloud storage solution for rarely accessed data.  This allows for storage tiering, where organizations can place their critical data on expensive, high-performance storage and then move it down the line… Read more

2 comments, 706 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 31 August 2017

Data Virtualization vs Data Warehouse

Data virtualization goes by a lot of different names: logical data warehouse, data federation, virtual database, and decentralized data warehouse.  Data virtualization allows you to integrate data from various sources, keeping the data in-place, so that you can generate reports and dashboards to create business value from the data.  It… Read more

0 comments, 515 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 24 August 2017

Microsoft Big Data Certification Exams

I previously blogged about Microsoft certification changes, and since then there have been some new Microsoft Big Data certifications exams released:

Already live:

70-773: Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R

70-774: Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning

70-775: Perform Data Engineering on Microsoft Azure HDInsight

Now in… Read more

3 comments, 409 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 August 2017

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