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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: December 2013

Entity Data Modeling with Visual Studio

While there are a lot of tools out there for data modeling, there is one option that is free if you have Visual Studio.  It’s called the Entity Data Model Designer.  It works well if you need a quick-and-dirty way to create a logical model of tables and have the… Read more

5 comments, 10,754 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 26 December 2013

Power Query load settings

One point of confusion I see with Power Query is some people believe Power Query adheres to the Excel limit of a max of 1,048,576 rows that can be imported.  However, there is a way around this limit.  When using Power Query, on the Query Editor dialog, under Query Settings,… Read more

1 comments, 1,009 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 December 2013

I’m presenting at the PASS Business Analytics Conference

I am fortunate enough to have been selected to give a presentation at the PASS Business Analytics Conference in San Jose, CA on May 7-9.  Below is my presentation abstract along with more info about the conference.  I hope to see you there!

Building an Effective Data Warehouse Architecture

You’re… Read more

3 comments, 460 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 19 December 2013

Power Query Preview December Update

Microsoft keep turning out updates to Power Query.  For December, some of the new features (download):

  • Connection to three more data sources: Sybase IQ, Exchange, and Dynamics CRM Online
  • When using the Navigator pane in the Power Query search, it will automatically detect database relationships
  • You can share…

Read more

0 comments, 741 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 December 2013

Power BI for Office 365 FAQ

As I have been giving demos on Power BI for Office 365, I have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, with many clients really loving it.  There are common questions that I hear, and I thought I would list them here with answers:

Will there be an on-premise… Read more

3 comments, 1,362 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 12 December 2013

Certification Updates for SQL Server 2014

Info from Microsoft on how the MCSA and MCSE certifications will be altered for SQL Server 2014:

In reviewing the SQL Server 2014 product, the Microsoft Learning Experiences team determined that the new features focus on performance tuning and high availability.  As skilling and testing around these features is best… Read more

1 comments, 4,624 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 December 2013

Power Query Preview November Update

As I mentioned in my previous post (see Power BI first impressions), Power Query is a great new tool and Microsoft has been updating it frequently.  The latest update has many new features, among them:

  • Connectivity to Windows Azure Table Storage – You can now import from Windows Azure…

Read more

0 comments, 1,112 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 5 December 2013

Power BI for Office 365 requirements

“Power BI” is an umbrella name for a lot of products, which I explain at Power BI first impressions (also I have a video at Power BI for Office 365 video).  Power BI is an Office 365 marketing offering (see pricing).  Each of the products that comprise Power… Read more

3 comments, 2,572 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 3 December 2013