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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 .

Archives: February 2014

Introduction to Hadoop

Hadoop was created by the Apache foundation as an open-source software framework capable of processing large amounts of heterogeneous data-sets in a distributed fashion (via MapReduce) across clusters of commodity hardware on a storage framework (HDFS).  Hadoop uses a simplified programming model.  The result is Hadoop provides a reliable shared… Read more

7 comments, 3,546 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 27 February 2014

What is HDInsight?

There are two flavors of HDInsight: Windows Azure HDInsight Service and Microsoft HDInsight Server for Windows (recently quietly killed but lives on in a different form).  Both were developed in partnership with Hadoop software developer and distributor Hortonworks and were made generally available in October, 2013.

Windows Azure HDInsight… Read more

4 comments, 253 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 25 February 2014

Annoying Recruiters

In a follow-up to my blog post Low-rate recruiters – The bane of my existence, Michael Bramante (website) wrote me a hilarious email that I wanted to share, with his permission.  I have had many similar experiences as his:

I’ve worked alongside plenty of Indians in my… Read more

10 comments, 240 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 20 February 2014

PolyBase explained

PolyBase is a new technology that integrates Microsoft’s MPP product, SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), with Hadoop.  It is designed to enable queries across relational data stored in PDW and in non-relational Hadoop data that is stored in the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), bypassing… Read more

8 comments, 2,225 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 18 February 2014

Why I just became a Microsoft Employee

I have been an independent consultant (IC) for quite a while now.  In an amazing number of coincidences, or just plain fate, in a matter of 17 days I went from hearing about a job opening at Microsoft to accepting their offer.  It all started when a friend of mine… Read more

21 comments, 190 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 11 February 2014

Power BI for Office 365 now available!

Microsoft has announced today the general availability of Power BI for Office 365!

Microsoft describes it as: Power BI for Office 365 is a complete self-service Business Intelligence (BI) solution delivered through Excel and Office 365 providing you with data discovery, analysis, and visualization capabilities to identify deeper business… Read more

0 comments, 226 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 February 2014

24 Hours of PASS: Business Analytics Edition videos online

On February 5, 2014 business intelligence experts took to the virtual stage for the 24 Hours of PASS: Business Analytics Edition to deliver a series of one-hour webcasts, digging deep into the world of business analytics.  All session recordings and slide presentations are now available for streaming from the PASS… Read more

0 comments, 187 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 February 2014

Forcing a contractor to go W2

I have had a few questions like this: “I was wondering if there is a reason the vendor/broker/head hunter forces a contractor to go on W2?  As per many vendors, lots of big banks are insisting that contractors should be on vendors W2 and NOT have a sub-contracting relationship through… Read more

1 comments, 205 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 4 February 2014