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James Serra's Blog

James is currently a Senior Business Intelligence Architect/Developer and has over 20 years of IT experience. James started his career as a software developer, then became a DBA 12 years ago, and for the last five years he has been working extensively with Business Intelligence using the SQL Server BI stack (SSAS, SSRS, and SSIS). James has been at times a permanent employee, consultant, contractor, and owner of his own business. All these experiences along with continuous learning has helped James to develop many successful data warehouse and BI projects. James has earned the MCITP Business Developer 2008, MCITP Database Administrator 2008, and MCITP Database Developer 2008, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. His blog is at .

Archives: June 2011

Can you query a SSAS cube while it is processing?

I have always wondered if queries against a SSAS cube while it is processing would be forced to wait the entire time the cube is processing, or just for a few minutes?  Or would the query bomb out?  Surprisingly, I found little information on the internet about this.  Fortunately, with… Read more

0 comments, 1,261 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 29 June 2011

Miss SQLBits 8? No problem, all videos are online

OK, since this conference in is England, it’s a little harder to get to compared to TechEd.  No matter, all the videos for this conference are online (65 of them).  Take a look at the recorded sessions at  All are free to watch!  Included are some excellent sessions… Read more

4 comments, 470 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 June 2011

SQL Server “Denali”: Details on the next version of SSAS

At the recent TechEd North America 2011 conference, details on the next version of SQL Server called “Denali” were released.  Part of those details were an update on the SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) roadmap.  The main new feature in SSAS is a new data model, called the… Read more

1 comments, 1,365 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 27 June 2011

Configuration Manager for Sqldiag

SQLdiag is a diagnostics collection utility to collect logs and data files from SQL Server that you can use to monitor your servers over time or troubleshoot specific problems with your servers.  SQLdiag can collect data from: Windows performance logs, Windows event logs, SQL Server Profiler traces, SQL Server blocking… Read more

0 comments, 715 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 24 June 2011

SQL Server “Denali”

SQL Server “Denali” is the code name for the next version of SQL Server.  The CTP1 of Denali was released on Nov 8, 2010, and you can download here.  The next CTP will be available this summer.

I will have future posts that will cover the following… Read more

2 comments, 1,745 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 June 2011

Three must-have tools you should use everyday

There are three tools I use every day without exception.  They all save me valuable time in surfing the net:

Delicious – This is a free bookmarking tool that works so much better than the built-in bookmarking in IE.  You can install a Delicious toolbar that allows you to bookmark… Read more

0 comments, 675 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 22 June 2011

Miss TechEd 2011? No problem, all videos are online

While nothing beats going to a conference, the next best thing is to watch the recorded sessions.  Fortunately, Microsoft has posted ALL the session videos for Tech·Ed North America 2011 and they are available for free!  Here is the list of just the SQL Server sessions, or a list… Read more

0 comments, 402 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 20 June 2011

SSMS Add-in for Analysis Services

A nice new little add-in available for SSMS on Codeplex.  It helps with repetitive tasks involved with SSAS such as processing and deployment.  As the site says, the goal for the Analysis Services Helper is to fill in gaps in the toolset inside SSMS, and decrease time spent on… Read more

1 comments, 595 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 June 2011

Data Mining and Analytics hot career

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have published a list of job-market hotspots, and in the top ten is Data Mining and Analytics.  The study is based on enrollment figures, national employment statistics and interviews with San Diego business executives.

One interesting tidbit from the study: “A study… Read more

0 comments, 491 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 16 June 2011

New Microsoft SSIS transform

Microsoft has just released a new SSIS transform, called the SSIS Balanced Data Distributor (BDD).  You can download it here.

This transform takes a single input and distributes the incoming rows to one or more outputs uniformly via multithreading.  The BDD will split the data, but there is no… Read more

2 comments, 747 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 15 June 2011

What’s coming in SP1 for PerformancePoint

Check out What’s New in PerformancePoint Services and SP1? to see a list of the major features and updates included in SP1 for PPS.  Note that SP1 is an Office 2010 service pack, and it’s due at the end of this month.

Read more

0 comments, 293 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 14 June 2011

SSIS Fuzzy Lookup Error

A Fuzzy Lookup Task in SSIS that I was working on was bombing out, and I had a heck of a time figuring out why. The error did not tell me much:

Error: 2011-05-18 10:42:09.33     Code: 0xC0047022     Source: Fuzzy Match InfoUSA SSIS.Pipeline     Description: SSIS Error Code DTS_E_PROCESSINPUTFAILED.  The ProcessInput method… Read more

2 comments, 950 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 13 June 2011

Easier way to view SQL Server job history

Ever get a timeout error when using the “View History” for a SQL Server Agent job? I find this happens when you have a lot of rows of job history and/or the SQL Server box is getting hit hard. So, I have a stored procedure that I use to display… Read more

0 comments, 2,794 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 June 2011

BIDSHelper 1.5 for SSAS, SSIS, SSRS released

BIDS helper is Visual Studio add-in with features that extend and enhance the functionality of the SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 BI Development Studio.  Version 1.5 can be downloaded here.

It’s a must-have add-in with tons of features.  I find myself using at least one of… Read more

0 comments, 392 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 9 June 2011

Top 10 virtualization benefits for the developer

Virtualization is becoming a hot topic lately, and there is no doubt it provides a ton of benefits.  But you don’t have to be a system admin that is virtualizing servers to take advantage of it.  If you deal with computers every day you can benefit via your own PC,… Read more

0 comments, 534 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 June 2011

Colleges starting to offer business intelligence degrees

Interesting video on called Business Intelligence Takes Higher Education Students to the Head of the Class that talks about how colleges are noticing that there is a high demand for employees with business intelligence and analytics expertise, and are now offering these courses and degrees.  The colleges are also… Read more

0 comments, 696 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 7 June 2011

Great white paper: Microsoft EDW Architecture, Guidance and Deployment Best Practices

A fantastic white paper just released: Microsoft EDW Architecture, Guidance and Deployment Best Practices.

It’s a must read if you are a data architect, data developer, or DBA involved in an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW).  As the paper says, the focus is on the best practices and repeatable patterns… Read more

0 comments, 619 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 June 2011

PerformancePoint 2010 source control

While there is no way to use a source control system such as Team Foundation Server (TFS) or Subversion with PerformancePoint 2010, all is not lost.  You can use the version control in SharePoint as your source control since all PerformancePoint items are now stored in SharePoint lists and document… Read more

0 comments, 481 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 3 June 2011

Windows 8 demo

A Windows 8 demo was just released.  Looks really cool.  Check it out at Previewing ‘Windows 8’ as well as Microsoft’s Windows 8 Demo From D9 (Video) and Windows 8 partner demo.  If you just want screen shots, check out this article on

Read more

0 comments, 254 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 June 2011

PerformancePoint wish list – change a datasource

One item on my PerformancePoint wish list is the ability to change a datasource for an Analytic Chart/Grid.  There is no way to do this.  Instead you must create a new datasource and build the Analytic Charts/Grids from scratch using the new datasource.  Why would someone want to change the… Read more

0 comments, 439 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 1 June 2011