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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 .

Presentation Slides for Modern Data Warehousing

Thanks to everyone who attended my session “Modern Data Warehousing” at the PASS SQLSaturday Business Analytics edition in Dallas.  The abstract is below.  Great turnout for the last session of the day!

Here is the PowerPoint presentation: Modern Data Warehousing

Modern Data Warehousing

The traditional data warehouse has served… Read more

0 comments, 621 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 4 May 2014

Modern Data Warehousing Presentation

I will be presenting the session “Modern Data Warehousing” on Saturday at the PASS SQLSaturday Business Analytics edition in Dallas at 4:30pm CST (info).  The abstract for my session is below.  I hope you can make it!

Modern Data Warehousing

The traditional data warehouse has served us well… Read more

0 comments, 484 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 30 April 2014

What is the Microsoft Analytics Platform System (APS)?

Analytics Platform System (APS) is simply a renaming of the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW).  It is not really a new product, but rather a name change due to a new feature in Appliance Update 1 (AU1) of PDW.  That new feature is the ability to have a HDInsight region… Read more

1 comments, 534 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 April 2014

Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) AU1 released

Microsoft’s PDW has seen a big boost in visibility and sales over the past year, and part of the reason is due to frequent upgrades to the hardware and software.  About every six months there is an appliance update, which is sort of like a service pack, except that in… Read more

2 comments, 540 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 15 April 2014

PASS Summit 2012 session videos online

All PASS Summit 2012 recordings are now available for free to all PASS members (201 of them!).  To view, log on to your myPASS account, and watch the sessions from myRecordings.  While there, check out mine: Building an Effective Data Warehouse Architecture

Read more

0 comments, 368 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 27 March 2014

Book: Reporting with Microsoft SQL Server 2012

I am happy to say I have published my first book!  It is called Reporting with Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (order).  Much thanks goes to my co-author and friend Bill Anton.  Below is a brief overview or check out the listing on the Packt Publishing site for… Read more

0 comments, 3,142 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 25 March 2014

SQL Server 2014 released April 1st!

SQL Server 2014 has been released to manufacturers (RTM) and will be generally available April 1.  Here is the official announcement.  Here are my blog posts about some of the new features.

More info:

SQL Server 2014 RTM Announced for April 1 Release

SQL Server 2014 releases April 1 Read more

0 comments, 398 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 20 March 2014

Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) benefits made simple

I have heard people say that the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) is Microsoft’s best kept secret.  So let me give a 10,000 foot overview on what PDW is and its benefits.  Keep in mind the purpose for a PDW is for data warehouses, not OLTP systems.

As opposed to a… Read more

7 comments, 866 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 18 March 2014

Real-time query access with PDW

The Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) officially supports Analysis Services as a data source, both the Multidimensional model (ROLAP and MOLAP modes) and the Tabular model (In-Memory and DirectQuery modes).  The big benefit of using ROLAP or DirectQuery is you get real-time query access to the relational data source in PDW… Read more

1 comments, 597 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 13 March 2014

Book: Expert Cube Development with SSAS Multidimensional Models

Those of you who use SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) are likely familiar with the “bible” for designing cubes: Expert Cube Development with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services by Marco Russo, Alberto Ferrari , and Chris Webb.  Well, a new edition has just been published, with a changed name… Read more

0 comments, 1,010 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 4 March 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, 4,422 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

6 comments, 570 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

14 comments, 464 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

12 comments, 4,102 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

20 comments, 520 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, 331 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, 297 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, 297 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 4 February 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, 564 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, 298 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 January 2014

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