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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.

“DBA: Transitioning to a BI Role” Presentation Slides

Thanks to everyone who attended my presentation “DBA: Transitioning to a BI Role” at the PASS Professional Development Virtual Chapter.  The recording of the session will be available here in the next day or two.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation: DBA: Transitioning to a BI Role

I had some excellent questions at the end of the session, and here is more follow-up to my answers:

  1. Any recommended books? This is a must read: The Microsoft Data Warehouse Toolkit: With SQL Server 2008 R2 and the Microsoft Business Intelligence Toolset by Ralph Kimball.  This is the bible for building BI projects.  Your first step should be to read this book.  I can’t believe I forgot to mention it!
  2. Do Microsoft certifications help? They are a great way to learn about BI and may help to make you stand out when looking for a BI opportunity.  More info here and here
  3. How much knowledge of business processes is beneficial to being effective with BI?  I have never had any business management courses.  I have learned those things on the various project I have been on.  If you can learn about accounting either on the job or off hours, that would help as many BI projects deal with financial data and understanding that would be a plus.  However, many times I have jumped into a new project not knowing anything about the business (i.e. Oil and Gas, Stock exchange, Healthcare) and learned as I went.  Most projects will not expect you to know the business – they just want you to know BI and will let you learn the business part.  If you are a quick learner, you will be fine.  And the best way to become a quick learner is to be constantly learning!

DBA: Transitioning to a BI Role

Business Intelligence is an extremely hot career. If you are a DBA, how can you transition to a BI role? James Serra will describe what exactly BI is, what encompasses the Microsoft BI stack, why it is so popular, and why a BI career pays so much. Then James will delve into the steps to take to become a BI expert and how he made the transition.


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