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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 .

Ralph Kimball Books

If you are involved in Business Intelligence, then the books by Ralph Kimball are required reading:

The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit: Practical Techniques for Building Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Systems, Second Edition, 2008, 636 pages (Amazon).  Subject: Implementation guide.  Primary Audience: Good overview for all project participants; key tool for project managers, business analysts, and data modelers.  See Tools and Utilities.  Walks you through the detailed steps of designing, developing, and deploying a DW/BI system: Introduces the Kimball Lifecycle, managing the project, collecting the requirements, introducing the technical architecture, creating the architecture plan and selecting products, introducing and designing the dimensional model, designing the physical database and planning for performance, introducing and designing/developing ETL, introducing and designing/developing BI applications, deploying/supporting/expanding the DW/BI system

The Data Warehouse Toolkit: The Complete Guide to Dimensional Modeling, Second Edition, 2002, 436 pages (Amazon).  The third edition was published July 1, 2013 (Amazon).  Subject: Dimensional data modeling.  Primary Audience: Data modelers, business analysts, DBAs, ETL  developers.  Complete library of dimensional modeling techniques.  Starts with fundamental design recommendations and progresses through increasingly complex scenarios..  Has guidelines for designing dimensional models using real-world data warehouse case studies from retail, accounting, inventory, CRM, HR, financial, etc

The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit: Practical Techniques for Extracting, Cleaning, Conforming, and Delivering Data, First Edition, 2004, 491 pages (Amazon).  Subject: ETL system architecture.  Primary Audience: ETL architects and developers.  Shows you how to plan and design your ETL system, choose the appropriate architecture from the many possible options, build the development/test/production suite of ETL processes, build a comprehensive data cleaning subsystem, and tune the overall ETL process for optimum performance

The Kimball Group Reader: Relentlessly Practical Tools for Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence, First Edition, 2010, 744 pages (Amazon).  Subject: DW/BI system design and development.  Primary Audience: A topical reference book for all project participants. A collection of recommended guidelines for data warehousing and business intelligence. Compiles the best articles written by Ralph Kimball as his team of colleagues. Covers the complete lifecycle—including project planning, requirements gathering, dimensional modeling, ETL, and business intelligence (BI) and analytics

The Microsoft Data Warehouse Toolkit: With SQL Server 2008 R2 and the Microsoft Business Intelligence Toolset, Second Edition, 2011, 696 pages (Amazon).  See Tools and Utilities.  The “bible” if you are using the Microsoft BI stack.  Think of it as a combination of the four previous books, taking parts of each, but making it specific to the Microsoft BI tool-set, where the other books are tool independent. The goal of the book is to guide the reader down the best path toward designing and building a successful business intelligence system and its underlying data warehouse databases using the Microsoft SQL Server product set

Kimball’s Data Warehouse Toolkit Classics: The Data Warehouse Toolkit, 2nd Edition; The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit, 2nd Edition; The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit, 2009, 1628 pages (Amazon).  This is just a way to save money: instead of buying the three books separately you can make one purchase at a cost savings


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