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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 .

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.  It is prepared and presented by SQLCAT, top industry experts and the SQL Server Analysis Server team.  The primary objective of this course is equip you with the latest SSAS best practices and case studies.

Microsoft has a Masters Certification for the SQL Server Database Engine.  There is no corresponding certification for Analysis Services.  The Maestro Program is the first step toward creating that certification.

Think of it as the equivalent of the SQL Server 2008 MCM, but for BI (i.e. SQL BI MCM).  It is a bit like SQL Rangers (the home-grown event prior to it becoming SQL Server MCM).  This has a good chance of this moving into an ANSI compliant certification program in the future.

This is exactly what I have been waiting for.  Since there was no SQL BI MCM, I have been studying for the next best thing, the SQL Server 2008 Microsoft Certified Master (MCM). But the problem with that is there was nothing on the test about BI, which is what I concentrate on.  This fills that gap.  Now I will turn my attention to studying for the SSAS maestro test.

Attendees that satisfactorily pass the assessment will be endorsed by Microsoft, and subsequently promoted within the SQL Server community and recommended for suitable engagements. Assessment will be based on:

  • 100% attendance during the five-day course
  • The consistent ability to contribute to, and at times lead, discussions
  • The satisfactory completion of all labs and an online exam to be done after you return home
  • A comprehensive 4000 word case study due 30 days after the course completion that demonstrates an applied deep understanding of the product and technology, and strong written communication skills

Upon successful completion of this course, assessment and case study evaluation by industry experts, attendees will:

  • Be a part of the elite group of SSAS Maestros
  • The SSAS Maestros list will be published on a Microsoft site for your customers to reference
  • When SQLCAT needs someone to help with a complex SSAS engagement or needs to refer to a partner – Microsoft we will refer to a SSAS Maestro
  • SQLCAT and the Analysis Services team will be creating SSAS Maestros-only webcasts and Q&A sessions – This will be an exclusive forum to discuss the latest best practices and share critical knowledge

The first round of classes (SSAS Maestro v1.0) were by invitation only and consisted of a 3-day course in Redmond, Hong Kong, and London last February.  SSAS Maestros v1.2 is a 5-day course in June and July in Redmond and Madrid.  Registration requires screening and approval of qualified attendees.  Here is the agenda.  An excellent review of the class as well as recommended reading for the class is by Vidas Matelis.  There is also a PowerPoint presentation that gives an overview of the program.

Beyond the classes offered in Redmond in June and Madrid in July, there is no concrete dates yet on other courses. Likely, existing SSAS Maestros will start offering classes of their own for folks to pass the SSAS maestro test.

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