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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 Data Lake Store Gen2 is GA

Azure Data Lake Store (ADLS) Gen2 was made generally available on February 7th.  In short, ADLS Gen2 is the best of the previous version of ADLS (now called ADLS Gen1) and Azure Blob Storage.  ADLS Gen2 is built on Blob storage and because of that it is a “ring… Read more

1 comments, 546 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 19 February 2019

Storage options for SQL Server database files in Azure

If you are using SQL Server in an Azure VM (IaaS) you have a number of options of where to store the database files (.mdf, .ldf, and .ndf).  Most customers use managed disks, available in a number of offerings: Standard HDDStandard SSDPremium SSD, and… Read more

6 comments, 935 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 29 January 2019

What product to use to transform my data?

If you are building a big data solution in the cloud, you will likely be landing most of the source data into a data lake.  And much of this data will need to be transformed (i.e. cleaned and joined together – the “T” in ETL).  Since the data lake… Read more

9 comments, 338 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 January 2019

Azure Data Factory Data Flow

Azure Data Factory v2 (ADF) has a new feature in public preview called Data Flow.  I have usually described ADF as an orchestration tool instead of an Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) tool since it has the “E” and “L” in ETL but not the “T”.  But now it has the data transformation… Read more

2 comments, 429 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 December 2018

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

4 comments, 440 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, 2,495 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, 1,530 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, 2,042 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, 2,610 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, 2,494 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, 1,063 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, 591 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, 3,080 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, 658 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, 3,155 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, 2,294 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, 2,524 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, 563 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, 563 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, 372 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 June 2018

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