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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: March 2012

BIDS Helper 1.6 for SQL Server 2012 released

BIDS helper is Visual Studio add-in with features that extend and enhance the functionality of the SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 BI Development Studio, and now supports SQL Server 2012 (including tabular mode) and Visual Studio 2010 (SSDT).  Version 1.6 can be downloaded here, and read up… Read more

1 comments, 1,124 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 30 March 2012

TinyInt problem in SSAS

If you have a source table that has a Tinyint primary key column defined as IDENTITY and you create a Data Source View (DSV) in SSAS and add that table (usually a dimension table), that IDENTITY field will be incorrectly typed as System.int32.

This causes problems when attempting to define… Read more

2 comments, 706 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 March 2012

SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) Appliance Update 3 (AU3)

In the next few weeks there will be an update to the SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) called “Appliance Update 3″ or “AU3″.  More than just a cumulative update, an Appliance Update is a complete refresh on the entire solution including software, hardware, and firmware.  This is the third… Read more

13 comments, 1,024 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 26 March 2012

Dell Quickstart Data Warehouse Appliance for SQL Server 2012

As a follow-up to my blog Microsoft SQL Server Reference Architecture and Appliances, Dell recently announced the future availability of Dell Quickstart Data Warehouse Appliance based on SQL Server 2012.  Right now only HP has a Business Data Warehouse appliance (BDW).  Basically these are pre-built appliances for data… Read more

1 comments, 727 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 March 2012

Fast Track for SQL Server 2012

When the Fast Track Data Warehouse 3.0 Reference Guide was published, it was based off of SQL Server 2008 R2.  With the release of SQL Server 2012, as expected that reference guide has been updated.  While an official release has not happened yet, there are some details that were made… Read more

0 comments, 582 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 March 2012

SQL Server 2012: xVelocity

After SQL Server 2012 was released this past week, I saw a few mentions from Microsoft about a new feature in SQL Server 2012 called “xVelocity”.  I have been using SQL Server 2012 for months now, playing with all the new features, and never came across one called xVelocity.  How… Read more

2 comments, 593 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 19 March 2012

SQL Server 2012: New Certification Info

As a follow-up to my posts SQL Server “Denali”: New Certifications and SQL Server 2012: New Certifications, there are now final details coming out about the SQL Server 2012 certifications.  The major news:

  • UPDATE: Anyone can take the beta exams for free.  Just click here
  • Two new Professional-level certifications…

Read more

3 comments, 1,006 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 16 March 2012

SQL Server 2012: Tabular Models vs PowerPivot Models

In SQL Server 2012, there is a new data model, called tabular, that is part of the new feature called the Business Intelligence Semantic Model (BISM).  BISM also includes the multidimensional model (formally called the UDM).

The Tabular model is based on concepts like tables and relationships that are familiar… Read more

0 comments, 1,225 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 14 March 2012

Houston Area SQL Server User Group Presentation

Thanks to everyone who attended my presentation “Scaling SQL Server to HUNDREDS of Terabytes” at HASSUG.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation: Scaling SQL Server to HUNDREDS of Terabytes

As a followup to a question from the presentation about clustering the appliances, I have found that Dell offers a high… Read more

4 comments, 345 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 13 March 2012

Data Warehouse Architecture – Kimball and Inmon methodologies

What is the best methodology to use when creating a data warehouse?  Well, first off, let’s discuss some of the reasons why you would want to use a data warehouse and not just use your operational system:

  • You need to integrate many different sources of data in near real-time.…

Read more

5 comments, 5,196 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 12 March 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): Power View installation and requirements

Power View is installed when you run the SQL Server 2012 install and on the Feature Selection page choose “Reporting Services Add-in for SharePoint Products”.  This is a newer version of the add-in that is installed with SharePoint 2010, with one of the new features being Power View.

The requirements… Read more

8 comments, 1,864 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 9 March 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): Reporting Services in SharePoint integrated mode

In SQL Server 2008, if you wanted to run Reporting Services in SharePoint integrated mode, these where the steps you took (see How to: Install and Configure SharePoint Integration on a Stand-alone Server):

  1. Install SQL Server 2008 and on the on the Feature Selection page select the Database Engine…

Read more

4 comments, 2,588 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 7 March 2012

SQL Server 2012 released!

Exciting news!  Microsoft announced today that SQL Server 2012 has released to manufacturing (RTM). Customers and partners can download an evaluation (or here) of the product today and can expect general availability to begin on April 1 (see Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Release Notes).

If you’re an MSDN/TechNet… Read more

1 comments, 845 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 March 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): Details on the next version of SSRS

SQL Server 2012 contains six new features for SSRS:

Excel Renderer for Microsoft Excel 2003, 2007 & 2010 - Excel renderer will support the Excel 2007 XLSX format.  To enable this feature, Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint must be installed.  This extension renders a report as… Read more

1 comments, 936 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 March 2012

SQL Server 2012 (“Denali”): Database Recovery Advisor

Database Recovery Advisor is a new feature in SQL Server 2012 that introduces significant user experience enhancements to the ways DBAs can now restore databases using SQL Server Management Studio:

  • An enhancement for point in time recovery using a new visual timeline feature, which consists of a Backup Timeline graphical…

Read more

0 comments, 571 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 March 2012