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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: August 2011

Receive error #13119 in toolbox instead of tools in Visual Studio 2008

A couple of times over the past few months, while in Visual Studio 2008 working on an SSIS package, I went to the toolbox and saw this message:

There we no tools at all showing up.  Apparently the toolbox became corrupted, but fortunately it is easy to fix.  Here were… Read more

0 comments, 978 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 31 August 2011

When to use T-SQL or SSIS for ETL

When doing ETL, you have the choice of using T-SQL or SSIS.  What things should you consider when deciding which one to use?  Here are some of the major design considerations to think about:

  • Performance - With T-SQL, everything is processed within the SQL engine.  With SSIS, you…

Read more

9 comments, 4,388 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 29 August 2011

Microsoft SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) Explained

Microsoft SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), formally called by its code name “Project Madison”, is an edition of Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008 R2 that was released in December 2010.  PDW is Microsoft’s reworking of the DatAllegro Inc. massive parallel processing (MPP) product that Microsoft acquired in July… Read more

0 comments, 1,335 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 26 August 2011

Microsoft Small Basic

This is a bit off-topic, but I wanted to mention a great tool for beginners to learn how to program.  This tool is especially ideal for those of us who have high schoolers who are interested in programming (this blog is directed at my son James).  Small Basic 1.0 was… Read more

0 comments, 843 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 24 August 2011

Tracking down KPI error in PerformancePoint

On a few occasions, I have opened up my PerformancePoint scorecard on SharePoint to see an error staring at me:

So two of my KPI’s, which have been working fine for months, suddenly don’t work.  Follow along and I will quickly show you how I found the problem.  First, I… Read more

0 comments, 313 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 22 August 2011

Methods for populating a data warehouse

Source tables change over time. A data mart or data warehouse that is based on those tables needs to reflect these changes.  This blog post will explain different solutions for solving this problem.

When moving data into a data warehouse, taking it from a source system is the first step… Read more

2 comments, 2,135 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 19 August 2011

Microsoft SharePoint Online

Microsoft SharePoint Online is a cloud-based service that is part of the recently released Microsoft Office 365.  For those of us who have installed SharePoint and maintained it, we know there is a lot of cost and overhead.  Setting it all up and maintaining it can be a real… Read more

0 comments, 358 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 August 2011

Using SSIS lookup transformation editor with millions of rows

If you are using a SSIS lookup transformation editor and the reference dataset is large (millions of rows) and you are using “Full cache” on the lookup transformation (the default), you might run into a problem.  With this setting the rows will all be loaded into memory, and with so… Read more

9 comments, 5,439 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 15 August 2011

SSAS Maestro Program (or SQL BI MCM)

There is a very interesting new Microsoft program that started back in January, called the SSAS Maestro Program.  It is a five-day, deep-dive course on Analysis Services 2008 R2 that gives architects and consultants the education and hands-on experience needed to deliver the highly complex and highest scalable OLAP solutions.… Read more

0 comments, 441 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 12 August 2011

Product Guide for SQL Server “Denali” released

Released today, the SQL Server code name ‘Denali’ Community Technical Preview 3 (CTP3) Product Guide download contains the latest datasheets, white papers, click-through and auto-running demonstrations, hands-on lab previews, technical presentations, and other useful links to help you evaluate the SQL Server code name ‘Denali’ CTP3 release.  Download it here Read more

0 comments, 632 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 August 2011

SQL Server “Denali”: Distributed Replay

Replaying multiple threads of a captured trace in SQL Profiler is difficult, and you are limited to replaying the workload from a single computer.  Distributed Replay is a new multi-threaded replay utility in Denali that solves this problem by allowing you to spread the workload of a trace against multiple… Read more

0 comments, 816 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 August 2011

Tools to make creating MDX much easier

For those of you who use MDX, I’m sure you share my opinion that MDX is a lot harder to master than SQL.  One trick I have learned is that instead of trying to write MDX from scratch, use one of the following tools to build the MDX for you: Read more

0 comments, 399 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 August 2011

Microsoft Certifications and MVP’s – What are they?

I take it for granted that everyone knows all about Microsoft certifications and Microsoft MVP’s.  But a few years ago, I had no idea what they were.  I had seen a few people list Microsoft certifications on their résumé, but I really did not know much about them, and I… Read more

2 comments, 768 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 August 2011

How to Run Programs as a Domain User from a Non-domain Computer

As a consultant or contractor, many times the client we are at does not provide us with a laptop, so we must use our own.  Usually that is preferred anyway, as we have all the software and tools installed and setup the way we want to make us as productive… Read more

1 comments, 636 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 3 August 2011

SQL Server “Denali”: Project Apollo

Project Apollo is a new feature in CTP3 of SQL Server Denali that enables a new columnstore index that offers 10-100x performance improvements for a star join or similar query.  Apollo brings together the in-memory columnstore technology (VertiPaq) that is used in PowerPivot and a new query execution paradigm called… Read more

0 comments, 849 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 1 August 2011