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James Serra's Blog

James is a big data and data warehousing technology specialist at Microsoft. He is a thought leader in the use and application of Big Data technologies, including MPP solutions involving hybrid technologies of relational data, Hadoop, and private and public cloud. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence architect and developer. He is a prior SQL Server MVP with over 30 years of IT experience. James is a popular blogger ( and speaker, having presented at dozens of PASS events including the PASS Business Analytics conference and the PASS Summit. He is the author of the book “Reporting with Microsoft SQL Server 2012”. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

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 is available via a Hyper-V session.  All the products you will use are installed, configured, and ready to go.  It’s the best way to play with a new product without having to create your own virtual machine and install a bunch of versions of trial software.  And best of all it is free.

The 26 SQL Server 2008 labs are at TechNet Virtual Labs: SQL Server 2008.


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