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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: December 2011

SSIS Community Tasks and Components

Do you know there are hundreds of additional tasks, tools, and components for SSIS, many which are free?  Why re-invent the wheel?  Take a look at this exhaustive list created by Todd McDermid on CodePlex: SSIS Community Tasks and Components.  It is split into the following categories:

  • Tools
  • Connection…

Read more

0 comments, 1,952 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 30 December 2011

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): Master Data Services

SQL Server Master Data Services (MDS) has a number of enhancements in SQL Server 2012:

Improved web user interface – If you are a current user of MDS in SQL Server 2008 R2 you know that it’s pretty difficult to navigate and feels like a “1.0″ version.  In… Read more

1 comments, 1,151 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 December 2011

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): New Security Features

SQL Server 2012 has many new security features, and three of the bigger new features are: Default Schema for Windows Groups, Audit enhancements, and User-Defined Server Roles.

Default Schema for Windows Groups

A database schema can now be tied to a Windows Group rather than an individual user in order… Read more

1 comments, 1,304 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 December 2011

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): AlwaysOn

AlwaysOn is a new integrated high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) solution that provides redundancy within a datacenter and across datacenters to help enable fast application failover during planned and unplanned downtime.  Specifically, AlwaysOn delivers failover cluster instances, multiple secondaries, active secondaries, and connection director capabilities (multi-subnet and read-only… Read more

4 comments, 941 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 December 2011

Junk dimensions

Junk dimensions are dimensions that contain miscellaneous data such as flags and indicators.  When designing a data warehouse, you might come across a source system that has a bunch of yes/no indicator fields.  If those fields needs to be tracked in a fact table, the result could be many small… Read more

0 comments, 656 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 19 December 2011

Factless fact table

A factless fact table is a fact table that does not have any measures.  It is essentially an intersection of dimensions (it contains nothing but dimensional keys).

There are two types of factless tables:  One is for capturing an event, and one is for describing conditions.

An event establishes the… Read more

1 comments, 1,280 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 16 December 2011

TechNet Virtual Labs

There is an excellent site called TechNet Virtual Labs that enables you to quickly and easily evaluate Microsoft’s newest products and technologies via hands-on labs in which you are guided through the lab in about 90 minutes.

There is nothing to set up or install, as all the needed software… Read more

0 comments, 441 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 14 December 2011

Top SSAS white papers

These are my favorite SSAS white papers released by Microsoft, with many from SQLCAT.  I’ll keep this post updated with new versions of the white papers as well as new ones that come along that I find useful:

Analysis Services 2008 R2 Performance Guide

SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis… Read more

1 comments, 2,358 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 12 December 2011

Reduce heap table fragmentation

A table that does not have a clustered index is referred to as a Heap.  While a lot has been written about index fragmentation and how to defrag indexes, there is not much that talks about how to defrag a heap table.

To identify whether your heap table is fragmented,… Read more

0 comments, 5,356 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 9 December 2011

Create SQL Server scripts with Visio 2010

If you are using Visio 2010 and creating tables via the Database Model Diagram template, you may be surprised to learn there is not a way to build CREATE TABLE scripts from your resulting diagram.  The last release that supported that was the Enterprise Architect version of Visio 2003, which… Read more

8 comments, 667 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 7 December 2011

SQL Server 2012 Developer Training Kit

The SQL Server 2012 Developer Training Kit has been updated with a bunch of new content (download it here).  This update includes eleven new hands-on labs covering Integration Services, the Semantic Model and Power View.  Roger Doherty posted a complete list of the content available in the training kit… Read more

0 comments, 656 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 December 2011

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”) Licensing

Microsoft has posted the licensing for SQL Server 2012.  It has simplified licensing: SQL Server 2012 will offer two licensing options – one that is based on computing power (“core based”), and one that is based on users or devices (“Server + Client Access License (CAL)”).  Note that the licensing… Read more

0 comments, 836 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 December 2011