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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 ( 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.

Archives: May 2011

How to become an expert in your field

I have been compiling a list of what things a person can do to become an expert, or guru, in his chosen field, whether that be in specific fields like SQL Server, BI, .Net, or in a broad field like career advise or data architect.  While we can all argue… Read more

1 comments, 3,645 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 30 May 2011

Search Active Directory (AD) from your desktop

Ever see a Windows group and want to know all the users in that group without having to ask your system admin?  There is an easy way to do this.  Just create this shortcut on your desktop:

%SystemRoot%\SYSTEM32\rundll32.exe dsquery,OpenQueryWindow

Call it something like “Search AD”.  Then when you run it… Read more

0 comments, 495 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 27 May 2011

ABL: Always Be Learning

If you have been in the IT field for any length of time, I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Always Be Learning”.  If you want to be successful and make the big bucks, you are going to have to devote a certain amount of hours each week to learning.… Read more

2 comments, 1,087 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 25 May 2011

Show correct totals when using SSAS role security

When using role security in SSAS, one point of confusion is when a person sees the grand total for a measure that includes the total of ALL members in the cube, even though the security has limited the members that person can see.  To fix this, check the “Enable Visual… Read more

0 comments, 630 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 May 2011

Watch out, Visual Studio 2010 does not support BI

When Visual Studio 2010 was released about a year ago, I was very excited and wanted to quickly open up a SSAS project created in VS 2008 to see the new features that were available in VS 2010.  So I copied one of my projects to a test folder and… Read more

0 comments, 795 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 20 May 2011

New Microsoft BI Labs site

Interesting new BI site from Microsoft called “BI Labs“.  This site says: “BI Labs is a collection of experimental business intelligence projects and useful applications made available from internal sources across Microsoft. These projects are prototypes and concepts, and there are no current plans to include them in… Read more

0 comments, 859 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 18 May 2011

DBA’s, want to earn the big bucks? Learn BI

While there are many DBA’s who do business intelligence, or BI, I believe there are even more who do not.  After all, there is enough tasks for DBA’s to keep them plenty busy without dealing with BI.  But if you want to earn more money, have more job opportunities,… Read more

0 comments, 762 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 16 May 2011

SSAS error when processing the cube

Every couple of weeks I see this SSAS error when processing one of my cubes:

Internal error: Invalid enumeration value. Please call customer support! is not a valid value for this element.

An error occurred while parsing the ‘StorageMode’ element at line 1, column 2217 (‘’ namespace) under Load/ObjectDefinition/Dimension/StorageMode.

Errors… Read more

0 comments, 886 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 13 May 2011

Dirty looking SQL or MDX? Clean it up

A quick tip for you:  Ever get some SQL or MDX sent to you in an email, or copied from a website, or pulled from SQL Profiler, that is difficult to understand because it’s not formatted?  Well, there are a couple of free tools that will clean up your SQL:… Read more

0 comments, 482 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 May 2011

A quicker way than using count(*)

A quick little tip I found a couple of years ago. Ever use the count(*) syntax and it takes forever to count all the rows in a table? I had this problem when I would sometimes run counts on a bunch of tables to check that my replication was working… Read more

0 comments, 425 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 9 May 2011

The best IT job boards

There are three job boards that I use: Dice, Monster, and LinkedIn.  I prefer Dice by far, since it has a ton of IT jobs on it, and it is focused solely on IT.  Monster is OK, but it does not have nearly as many IT jobs… Read more

0 comments, 923 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 May 2011

SSIS package runs fine until put in a job

I see this issue pop up every now and then: A developer creates an SSIS package in BIDS and gets it to run fine.  Then the developer connects to Integration Services and uploads the package to the server, and then uses the Run Package, and again it runs fine.  But… Read more

0 comments, 595 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 4 May 2011

What to blog about?

As I mentioned in my first post, I thought it would be real difficult to think of things to blog about.  Turns out to be real easy.  It’s just a matter of always having a “blog mindset”.  In other words, when at work, anytime a problem comes along that you… Read more

0 comments, 377 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 May 2011