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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.

Microsoft Connect(); announcements

Microsoft Connect(); is a developer event from Nov 16-18, where plenty of announcements are made.  Here is a summary of the data platform related announcements:

  • Azure Data Lake Analytics is generally available in two datacenters in US (EMEA coming in Feb).  Azure Data Lake Analytics is a cloud analytics service…

Read more

0 comments, 155 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: Microsoft Professional Program for Big Data

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  I’m writing a set of blogs covering the major announcements.  Next up is the Microsoft Professional Program for Big Data.

A few months back, Microsoft started the Microsoft Professional Program for Data Science Read more

0 comments, 350 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 15 November 2016

Azure SQL Server 2016 VM

With Windows Server 2016 just been released, now is the perfect time to build an Azure VM with SQL Server 2016 on Windows Server 2016.  In a matter of minutes you can be playing and learning both platforms.  Below I will document the steps I took to build the VM… Read more

3 comments, 368 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: SQL DW free trial

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  I’m writing a set of blogs covering the major announcements.  Next up is the free trial of Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW).

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is an enterprise-class, massively parallel processing… Read more

1 comments, 177 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: Power BI reports on-prem in SSRS

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  I’m writing a set of blogs covering the major announcements.  Next up is the technical Preview for Power BI reports on-prem in SSRS.

The Technical Preview is a pre-configured Virtual Machine in the… Read more

0 comments, 146 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 3 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: Azure Analysis Services

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  I’m writing a set of blogs covering the major announcements.  Perhaps the biggest one is the introduction of the Azure Analysis Services Public Preview (OLAP).

This is a PaaS for SQL Server Analysis… Read more

3 comments, 182 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 1 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: DMA/DEA

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  My next few blogs will cover the major announcements.  This first one is about the Data Migration Assistant (DMA) tool v 2.0 general availability and the technical preview of Database Experimentation Assistant (DEA). Read more

0 comments, 198 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 October 2016

Data Warehouse Fast Track for SQL Server 2016

Microsoft Data Warehouse Fast Track for SQL Server 2016 is a joint effort between Microsoft and its hardware partners to deliver validated, pre-configured solutions that reduce the complexity of implementing a data warehouse on SQL Server Enterprise Edition.  The Data Warehouse Fast Track program provides flexibility of solutions and customer… Read more

5 comments, 228 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 19 October 2016

Microsoft certification changes

A recent Microsoft blog post announced that they are releasing five new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) and Developer (MCSD) specialties.  These credentials are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers.  All… Read more

1 comments, 273 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 October 2016

Cortana Intelligence Solutions

Cortana Intelligence Solutions is a new tool just released in public preview that enables users to rapidly discover, easily provision, quickly experiment with, and jumpstart production grade analytical solutions using the Cortana Intelligence Suite (CIS).  It does so using preconfigured solutions, reference architectures and design patterns (I’ll just call… Read more

3 comments, 220 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 29 September 2016

Making sense of Microsoft technology

In my role as a Data Platform Solution Architect (DPSA) at Microsoft, part of my responsibility is to keep up with all the Microsoft on-prem and cloud data-related technology and trends, as well as non-Microsoft technology and trends in areas such as Hadoop and NoSQL.  I work with Microsoft clients… Read more

0 comments, 250 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 September 2016

The art of possible with the cloud

One thing I try to do in my role with Microsoft is to get clients to think of possible use cases for building solutions in the Azure cloud.  To set off light bulbs in their heads.  Sometimes this is accomplished by showing them demo’s of existing solutions.  It’s that old… Read more

2 comments, 224 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 September 2016

SQL Server 2016 real-time operational analytics

SQL Server 2016 introduces a very cool new feature called real-time operational analytics, which is the ability to run both analytics (OLAP) and OLTP workloads on the same database tables at the same time.  This allows you to eliminate the need for ETL and a data warehouse in some cases… Read more

2 comments, 261 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 24 August 2016

Azure SQL Database new performance level

A new performance level for Azure SQL Database was recently announced, called P15.  This new offering is more than two times more powerful than the next best offering, P11.  P15 offers 4000 database transaction units (DTU) where P11 offered 1750 DTU’s.  Also, the max concurrent workers and concurrent logins increased… Read more

3 comments, 372 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 August 2016

Azure SQL Database vs SQL Data Warehouse

I am sometimes asked to compare Azure SQL Database (SQL DB) to Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW).  The most important thing to remember is SQL DB is for OLTP (i.e. applications with individual updates, inserts, and deletes) and SQL DW is not as it’s strictly for OLAP (i.e. data… Read more

2 comments, 1,454 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 August 2016

What is the Lambda Architecture?

Lambda architecture is a data-processing architecture designed to handle massive quantities of data (i.e. “Big Data”) by using both batch-processing and stream-processing methods.  This idea is to balance latency, throughput, scaling, and fault-tolerance by using batch processing to provide comprehensive and accurate views of batch data, while simultaneously using real-time… Read more

2 comments, 2,233 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 August 2016

Multi-tenant databases in the cloud

For companies that sell an on-prem software solution and are looking to move that solution to the cloud, a challenge arises on how to architect that solution in the cloud.  For example, say you have a software solution that stores patient data for hospitals.  You sign up hospitals, install the… Read more

1 comments, 375 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 20 July 2016

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is now GA

The Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW), that I blogged about here, is now generally available.  Here is the official announcement.

In brief, SQL DW is a fully managed data-warehouse-as-a-service that you can provision in minutes and scale up in seconds.  With SQL DW, storage and compute scale… Read more

2 comments, 303 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 13 July 2016

Virtualization does not equal a private cloud

I see a lot of confusion when it comes to creating a private cloud.  Many seem to think that by virtualizing your servers in your local on-premise data center, you have created a private cloud.  But by itself, virtualization falls far short of the characteristics of a private cloud and… Read more

1 comments, 917 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 7 July 2016

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

1 comments, 257 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 June 2016

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