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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: February 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): Extended Events

Extended Events is a general event-handling system for performance monitoring that was introduced in SQL Server 2008.  It has a highly scalable and highly configurable architecture that allows users to collect as much or as little information as is necessary to troubleshoot or identify a performance problem.

While there are… Read more

0 comments, 1,933 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 29 February 2012

End-User Microsoft BI Tools – Clearing up the confusion

Given two types of underlying data sources (a data warehouse and a OLAP cube built from the data warehouse) there are many different possible presentation layers (client tools) that serve different user communities with varying usage profiles.  There is a lot of confusion on what is the best tool to… Read more

2 comments, 4,500 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 27 February 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): Spatial Features

SQL Server 2012 introduces several significant enhancements to spatial types, such as support for new subtypes of circular arcs, new and updated methods and aggregates for all subtypes, improved precision, and updates to the geography type.

More info:

New Spatial Features in SQL Server Code-Named “Denali”

Video Microsoft SQL… Read more

0 comments, 1,656 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 24 February 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): FileTable

FileTable is a new feature in SQL Server 2012 that is built on top of SQL Server FILESTREAM technology, which allows BLOB data to be stored as individual files separate from a database’s data files.  Interactions with the FileStream files took place only through T-SQL or through code which engaged… Read more

2 comments, 1,113 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 22 February 2012

Please vote for my SQLRally session

I’m hoping to do a presentation at SQLRally in Dallas on May 10-11, but I need your help!

There is a Community Vote for the remaining 20 sessions, so I would greatly appreciate it if you would go to and vote for my session (described below).  You have to… Read more

0 comments, 478 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 February 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): PowerPivot

Version 2 of PowerPivot (download) is being made available with SQL Server 2012.  There are many new features, and my top 5 are:

Diagram View – Instead of looking at the defined relationships in a list format, v2 allows you to view the relationships in a diagram.  This… Read more

3 comments, 1,055 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 20 February 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): Microsoft StreamInsight

Microsoft StreamInsight, first introduced in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, is a way to effectively analyze large amounts of event data streaming in from multiple sources.  You can derive insights from critical information in near real-time.  StreamInsight is a platform for Complex Event Processing (CEP) giving you the ability… Read more

2 comments, 2,559 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 February 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): T-SQL Enhancements

SQL Server 2012 has a number of new T-SQL features.  Listed below are all of the new features, along with the best links I have found that describe each feature:

WITH RESULT SETS, OFFSET AND FETCH, THROW, SEQUENCE: See New T-SQL Features in SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012-DENALI-whats… Read more

2 comments, 4,088 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 15 February 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): Contained Databases

A problem that has plagued SQL Server for a long time is that a database is not very portable.  Sure, you can backup or detach a database and restore or attach it elsewhere, but when you do that, you are missing a lot of the pieces that make that database… Read more

6 comments, 2,523 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 13 February 2012

SQL Azure

SQL Azure is a cloud-based service from Microsoft that uses a special version of SQL Server as its backend.  SQL Azure helps to ease provisioning and deployment of multiple databases.  Developers do not have to install, setup, patch or manage any software, as all that is taken care of by… Read more

0 comments, 1,410 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 February 2012

What is Microsoft Connect?

Microsoft Connect (blog, twitter) is a site where you can post feedback to improve the quality of many Microsoft products and impact the direction of those products.  As of this writing, the site accepts bugs for 51 products and suggestions for 34 products, all from the community.… Read more

2 comments, 541 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 February 2012

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

Data Quality Services (DQS) is a brand new feature in SQL Server 2012.  In short, DQS enables you to build a knowledge base, and use that knowledge base to perform a variety of critical data quality tasks such as correction, enrichment, standardization and de-duplication of your data.  DQS enables a… Read more

1 comments, 2,312 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 February 2012

Slowly Changing Dimensions

When designing a data warehouse, how you handle changes to dimensional data over time is the most important decision to make.  It is rare that a dimension will remain static over time.  For example, a customer may change their phone number or their address, or a sales person may change… Read more

3 comments, 895 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 3 February 2012

Need to create a time dimension down to the millisecond?

Ok, I know that creating a time dimension down to the millisecond is extremely rare.  After all, we are talking about  86,400,000 records.  In my case, it is needed for a customer with a 50TB database that contains stock trades that are recorded down to the millisecond (we are using… Read more

0 comments, 951 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 1 February 2012