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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.

Archives: July 2012

Syncing your contacts

In the same vein as my blog post about Syncing your calendars, I wanted to post how to sync your contacts in Outlook, Gmail (Google Contacts), and iPhone:

- Transfer your Outlook contacts to Gmail via Transfer contacts between Outlook and Google Gmail

- In Gmail, remove the duplicates… Read more

0 comments, 1,213 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 30 July 2012

Visual Studio 2012 does not support BI

In the same vein as my post Watch out, Visual Studio 2010 does not support BI, Visual Studio 2012 does not support BI.  Meaning, VS 2012 does not support SSAS, SSIS, or SSRS.  If you try to open one of those projects, you will be greeted with:

At least… Read more

20 comments, 15,122 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 25 July 2012

TechEd Europe 2012 videos online

Microsoft has posted ALL the session videos for TechEd Europe 2012 and they are available for free!  What a great way to learn all about SQL Server 2012.  Check them out here.

Read more

0 comments, 687 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 July 2012

SSRS does not require IIS

Starting with SQL Server Reporting 2008 Reporting Services (SSRS) was the removal of the Internet Information Services (IIS) dependency, so you do not need to install IIS on the machine that you will install SSRS.  This only applies when you configure it in native mode.  In integrated mode you have… Read more

1 comments, 5,913 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 18 July 2012

How to use LinkedIn to enhance your career

LinkedIn is a great resource to improve your career.  It has definitely worked for me as the last 5-6 jobs I have been hired for was because a recruiter found me through LinkedIn or I noticed a job posting on LinkedIn.  And because my income has nearly tripled over those… Read more

4 comments, 3,338 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 16 July 2012

Microsoft PivotViewer

Microsoft PivotViewer is a really cool Silverlight web-based control that provides a visual way to interact with massive amounts of data (download).  It allows you to present thousands of things at once and visualize them in a way that exposes value from the group.  By visualizing thousands of… Read more

0 comments, 991 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 July 2012

Blueprint for consulting riches

As a business intelligence architect consultant, I have met many people out there who are as good or better than me in building business intelligence solutions, yet earn much less than I do.  Why you ask?  In the past 18 months, I have nearly tripled my yearly income.  How you… Read more

9 comments, 1,134 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 9 July 2012

SQL Server table partition switching

If you are using partitions in SQL Server, be aware that “partition switching” is a great feature to quickly truncate partitions or to load data in parallel.

To truncate a partition:

  1. Create a staging table with the schema structure matching the source partitioned table
  2. If they are in different filegroups,…

Read more

2 comments, 5,706 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 July 2012

Comparing DirectQuery and ROLAP for real-time access

In the multidimensional model in SSAS, there is a storage mode called relational OLAP (ROLAP), which is the multidimensional solution for allowing real-time access to relational data sources.  In the tabular model in SSAS, the solution for real-time access is a query mode called DirectQuery, which uses a fundamentally different… Read more

2 comments, 1,118 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 July 2012