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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: September 2011

Microsoft SQL Server Reference Architecture and Appliances

Microsoft has made available SQL Server appliances and reference architectures that allow customers to deploy data warehouse (DW), business intelligence (BI) and database consolidation solutions in a very short time, with all the components pre-configured and pre-optimized.  These appliances include all the hardware, software and services for a complete, ready-to-run,… Read more

0 comments, 1,474 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 30 September 2011

Consultants: 1099 or W-2?

As a consultant or contractor, you can sometimes be faced with the decision when taking a new contract of whether to go 1099 or W-2.  Essentially, the question is in what manner will you be paid by your client.  Having faced that decision a few times myself, I will fill… Read more

0 comments, 969 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 September 2011

What is a Microsoft Regional Director?

First off, they don’t work for Microsoft.  A Microsoft Regional Director (RD) is an unbiased third-party evangelist of Microsoft products and services.  Regional Directors are members of an elite, worldwide group of technology thought-leaders known for their national and international speaking tours, their authorship of books, articles and blogs, and… Read more

0 comments, 426 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 26 September 2011

Microsoft Partner Network explained

I’m sure in your travels in the field of IT, you have seen or heard of companies being called a “Microsoft Partner”.  If you were like me, you had no idea what that really meant.  Was it something a company got by just paying Microsoft to be in it?  Was… Read more

0 comments, 630 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 September 2011

Miss 24 Hours of PASS ? No problem, all videos are online

All the videos for the sessions at 24 Hours of PASS are available for free.  Check the session schedule for a complete list.  Some great stuff!

Read more

0 comments, 292 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 22 September 2011

Context-sensitive menus in PerformancePoint

Frequently I see a bit of confusion from business users when using an analytic grid on a dashboard in PerformancePoint.  The confusion comes when you right-click on the analytic grid and see a context-sensitive menu.  When you right-click on any of the numbers in the grid, in this case “73,149,028″,… Read more

0 comments, 340 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 September 2011

Building a Visual Studio project from an existing SSAS database

Imagine you join a company, and there is an existing SSAS database that contains a few cubes that are working nicely.  You are asked to add an enhancement to one of the cubes, so you poke around in source control for the Visual Studio analysis services project, but can’t find… Read more

0 comments, 339 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 19 September 2011

Ways to save money on Microsoft Software

If you are a developer and are on your own, or working for a company that does not have an MSDN subscription and you are looking at using a bunch of Microsoft tools, you can wind up spending a ton of money.  Or maybe you want to set up your… Read more

0 comments, 591 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 16 September 2011

SQL Server “Denali”: Installing on a Virtual Machine

With CTP3 for SQL Server Denali available, a lot of us want to play with all the new cool features, as well as the new tools, such as Crescent and Juneau.  The steps below are what I took to create a virtual machine to install all the products needed… Read more

0 comments, 807 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 14 September 2011

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): Installing on a Virtual Machine

With CTP3 for SQL Server 2012 (code name of “Denali”) available, a lot of us want to play with all the new cool features, as well as the new tools, such as Crescent and Juneau.  The steps below are what I took to create a virtual machine to install… Read more

0 comments, 887 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 14 September 2011

How to prevent blocking in your SQL Server database

As a SQL Server DBA, usually the largest databases in size and in number of users that I had to manage was an ERP database, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX.  And because these types of database typically have a lot of users, database blocking was a major concern.  This… Read more

0 comments, 354 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 12 September 2011

Using a Display Folder for a SSAS calculation

I was having a problem getting the display folder to work for a calculation in SSAS.  Turns out, it will only work if you select “Measures” as the Parent hierarchy:

The display folder (“Acct Calc – Supply Chain”) shows up correctly when browsing the cube, under “Measures”:

However, if you… Read more

0 comments, 548 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 9 September 2011

Thinking about taking a contract position? Questions to ask

Over the years, I have accumulated a set of questions that I usually ask the placement firm about a contract position (W2 or 1099) that I am looking at taking.  Many of these questions will also apply if you are thinking about working as a salaried employee for a consulting… Read more

0 comments, 521 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 7 September 2011

System Center and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010

Because the relationship between application development and the IT operations teams is critical, Microsoft has released a CTP of a new connector between System Center and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2010 that helps the coordination between development and operations. The connector enables an operations team to assign application… Read more

0 comments, 499 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 September 2011

Preventing projects from deploying when debugging a SSIS package

This is a quick tip to help quickly solve a problem I run into sometimes, and now that I am writing a blog about it, will be able to solve it in no time (a big benefit of blogging is to never have to try to remember a solution to… Read more

1 comments, 875 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 September 2011