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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: January 2012

Complex reporting off a SSAS cube

While using a cube in SSAS is usually a great source for reporting, it is not always the best choice.  Sometimes it is better to report off of the data warehouse that the cube is built from.

For example, say you want to create a P&L statement using a financial… Read more

10 comments, 1,174 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 30 January 2012

SSAS fact table dilemma

Here is a situation I ran into recently concerning using a fact table in SSAS.  This experience may help you out if you run into something similar:

A data warehouse has an advertising table that has these four fields: Product Type, Inches, Lines, Pieces. The Inches, Lines and Pieces fields… Read more

0 comments, 764 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 27 January 2012

Improving cube processing time

As your SSAS cube gets bigger, cube processing time will become a problem.  This is especially true as more and more companies want cube processing during the day instead of the usual off-hours time when no one is using the cube.  Partitioning the cube can help to reduce the processing… Read more

1 comments, 7,281 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 25 January 2012

Want to recruit me? Please follow these rules

I get 15-30 calls/emails a week from recruiters (not counting the dozens of auto-generated emails I get).  Being a contractor I’m always trying to build relationships with recruiters so when my contract nears an end, I have plenty of job opportunities to choose from.  I’ve talked with hundreds of recruiters… Read more

5 comments, 524 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 January 2012

PASS Summit session videos online

If you are interested in viewing the recorded sessions for the PASS Summit 2011, you can order the DVD.  You can purchase the Regular Summit Sessions as well as the Pre-Conference Sessions.  However, if you are interested in the sessions from 2010 and older (going back to 2005), you can… Read more

0 comments, 443 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 20 January 2012

SQLInspire NYC 2011 Videos available

There are some FANTASTIC videos of the sessions from SQLInspire New York 2011.  I highly recommend that you check out all the videos, as I found some great career tips in all of them.  As the site says “We’ve lined up speakers set to inspire you to create and… Read more

0 comments, 299 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 18 January 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): SSIS Logging

In previous SSIS versions as the developer you were responsible for configuring all of your logging options, such as what events you were going to log, which containers you were going to collect logs for, and where you were going to store those logs.

In SSIS for SQL Server 2012… Read more

1 comments, 713 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 16 January 2012

HP DL980…now this is a server!

I have been fortunate the past few months to be working on a HP ProLiant DL980 G7 Server.  This is one killer server: 8 processors, 80 cores, 160 virtual processors, and 2 TB’s of memory.  Oh, and there are two of them (clustered).

Check out the specs in Task… Read more

0 comments, 531 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 13 January 2012

Video/Voice conferencing and Microsoft Lync

Since I work mostly from home, video/voice conferencing and IM are of major importance to me, and using the right tools is vital to keeping me productive.  The tools used for conferencing should have IM, presence indicator, voice and video calls, desktop sharing, file transfer and ad hoc conferences.  There… Read more

2 comments, 442 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 January 2012

Houston Area SQL Server User Group Presentation

Thanks for everyone who attended my presentation “How To Make a LOT More Money as a Consultant” at HASSUG.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation: How To Make a LOT More Money as a Consultant

How to make a LOT more money as a consultant

James will show you the… Read more

3 comments, 340 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 January 2012

Surrogate Keys

When building a data warehouse, it is important that primary keys of dimension tables remain stable.  To accomplish this, it is strongly recommended that surrogate keys be created and used for primary keys for all dimension tables instead of using natural keys.  Surrogate keys are keys that are maintained within… Read more

1 comments, 2,192 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 9 January 2012

Normalizing Your Database

If you’ve been working with databases for any length of time, you have heard the term normalization.

Normalization is the process of efficiently organizing data in a database.  There are two goals of the normalization process: eliminating redundant data (for example, storing the same data in more than one table)… Read more

4 comments, 3,406 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 January 2012

Difference between ETL and ELT

ETL is the most common method used when transferring data from a source system to a data warehouse.  But there are cases where you might want to use ELT.  What is the difference between the two?  Read on:

Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) is a process that involves extracting data… Read more

7 comments, 3,129 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 4 January 2012