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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: October 2011

Miss SQLBits 9? No problem, all videos are online

All the videos for this popular conference are online or will be soon (48 of them). Take a look at the recorded sessions at http://sqlbits.com/content/Event9.  All are free to watch!  The one’s on my list to watch (because I’m interested in SQL Server 2012/Data Warehouse/SSAS):

  • Basic BISM
  • Handling Advanced…

Read more

1 comments, 1,003 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 31 October 2011

SQL Server Analysis Services Performance Guide published

Another must read white-paper: Analysis Services 2008 R2 Performance Guide.

This white paper describes how business intelligence developers can apply query and processing performance-tuning techniques to their Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services OLAP solutions.  It applies to SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, and SQL Server 2008… Read more

0 comments, 1,435 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 October 2011

Miss TechEd Australia 2011? No problem, all videos are online

As you may know, the TechEd in the U.S. is not the only one.  There have been many all over the world, and it 2011 there have been one’s in New Zealand, Australia, and next month in Russia.  The Australia and New Zealand TechEd ended a couple of months ago,… Read more

2 comments, 513 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 26 October 2011

What is Microsoft TAP and RDP?

Technology Adoption Program (TAP) and Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) are ways for Microsoft to get early feedback on new products or product updates as well as give important customers a heads-up on what Microsoft is up to.  Participation is by invitation only (usually by someone in Microsoft’s field sales force),… Read more

2 comments, 1,058 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 24 October 2011

SSIS – Can’t Enable/Disable within Data Flow Tab

This is my biggest gripe with SSIS: I have a data flow task, and within that I’m pulling data from multiple sources into multiple destinations, with a few performing data flow transformations.  While testing, I want to disable some of the components.  You can’t.  You can disable any task in… Read more

0 comments, 1,046 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 October 2011

Microsoft and HP’s Database Consolidation Appliance

Microsoft and HP have announced another appliance, called the Database Consolidation Appliance (see my blog about the other two appliances).  In short, this appliance consolidates databases into a single, virtual environment.

In more detail:

Many customers continue to struggle with solving the problem of SQL server sprawl.  With a proliferation… Read more

0 comments, 817 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 19 October 2011

Performance tips for SSAS

Over the past few years I have developed a list of ways to improve performance in SSAS and in two of the tools that use it: ProClarity and PerformancePoint.  Below are those performance tips along with other important items to be aware of:

1) Manually add aggregations to the cube… Read more

1 comments, 1,833 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 October 2011

Formula engine and storage engine in SSAS

In SSAS, to improve query performance, it’s important to understand what happens inside analysis services when a query is run.  Analysis Services is made up of two engines:

Formula Engine (FE) – It is single-threaded.  It processes the MDX queries, determines what data is needed to answer them, then requests… Read more

0 comments, 518 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 14 October 2011

SQL Server 2012 and other PASS announcements

Some announcements and notes from SQL PASS Summit 2011, going on this week:

It was announced that the official name of the SQL Server “Denali” product is SQL Server 2012 and will be released in the first half of the year 2012.  There will be a Release… Read more

0 comments, 459 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 13 October 2011

SQL Server 2012 and other PASS annoucements

Some announcements and notes from SQL PASS Summit 2011, going on this week:

It was announced that the official name of the SQL Server “Denali” product is SQL Server 2012 and will be released in the first half of the year 2012.  There will be a Release… Read more

0 comments, 844 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 13 October 2011

Error configuration in SSAS

In SSAS, there is an Error Configuration object that is central to the management of data integrity errors.

The following picture shows the ErrorConfiguration properties for a cube:

There are numerous objects where you can specify the error configuration via the properties dialog: dimension, cube, measure group and partition.  Also,… Read more

1 comments, 1,193 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 12 October 2011

Sometimes temp tables can be your best friend

Here is a quick example of when using temporary tables will give you a big performance gain.  I recently was given this query to improve, as it was taking over 15 hours to run:

SELECT *
FROM
(
SELECT * FROM
GL_Star_FactsDetails GL
LEFT JOIN DimAccount ACCT on GL.Account =… Read more

1 comments, 536 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 October 2011

Denormalizing dimension tables

When building a SSAS cube, you typically have a star schema containing dimension tables and fact tables.  For dimension tables, you generally model these as one table per object.  Building the dimension in the ETL system involves joining the various normalized description and hierarchy tables that populate the dimension… Read more

4 comments, 1,021 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 7 October 2011

Microsoft’s Data Warehouse offerings

If you are the decision maker in your company and you are tasked with purchasing one or more servers to be used solely for SQL Server and solely as a data warehouse, be aware there are options outside of the usual ordering a server and internally installing the hardware, OS,… Read more

0 comments, 532 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 October 2011

Want to browse the web faster?

In our day-to-day activities, browsing the web is one of the most important aspects of our job.  Whether researching for an answer to a problem, reading our favorite blogs, checking LinkedIn, or using a web application, it’s used so much that increasing the speed at which pages display will increase… Read more

0 comments, 424 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 3 October 2011