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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: January 2014

SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) – January 2014 update

The SSDT January 2014 release has been updated to support both SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse Appliance Update 1 (AU1) and continues to support SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse.  This release of SSDT is now PDW version-aware, and the experience is different when connected to SQL Server… Read more

0 comments, 1,146 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 January 2014

Power BI for Office 365 pricing announced

Pricing for Power BI for Office 365 has been announced (see pricing).


It’s all very confusing to me but Melissa Coates does a great job explaining it (see Initial Pricing for Power BI Has Been Announced).

More info:

Microsoft pins a price tag on its PowerBI business-intelligence… Read more

0 comments, 489 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 January 2014

PASS Business Analytics Conference discount code

I have previously blogged that I am presenting at the PASS Business Analytics Conference.  If you are looking to learn more about business intelligence and data warehousing, there is no better conference out there.  And if you are looking to meet people like you in the industry and share… Read more

2 comments, 698 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 16 January 2014

Independent consultant: How to find work

When I talk to people about switching from being a salaried employee to an independent consultant (see my presentation How to make a LOT more money as a consultant), the most frequent question I hear is “I worry about having to drum up my own business.  I never had… Read more

0 comments, 900 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 14 January 2014

Business Intelligence/Data Warehouse Assessment

When I am tasked to do a business intelligence or data warehouse assessment, the steps I take to do that depend on the amount of time and the number of people I have.  The result of the assessment will be a plan to build a new data warehouse or business… Read more

2 comments, 1,582 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 9 January 2014

SQL Server 2014 In-Memory OLTP (Hekaton) Limitations

One of the biggest new features in SQL Server 2014 is SQL Server In-Memory OLTP, known mostly by its code name of Hekaton (see SQL Server 2014: In-memory OLTP Engine, code-name: Hekaton).  Basically, this puts tables in memory, giving a potentially huge performance boost when accessing these tables, especially… Read more

3 comments, 3,113 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 7 January 2014

Power BI Q&A Preview now works on your data

As I mentioned in Power BI first impressions, Power BI Q&A is an instantaneous search experience that uses a natural language query.  The user enters a question and it interprets it and serves up the correct interactive chart or graph.  It only worked with sample data installed when you… Read more

1 comments, 498 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 January 2014