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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 (JamesSerra.com) 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.

PolyBase use cases clarified

I previously talked about PolyBase and its enhancements (see PASS Summit Announcements: PolyBase enhancements).  There is some confusion on PolyBase use cases as they are different depending on whether you are using PolyBase with Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW) or SQL Server 2016, as well as the sources… Read more

3 comments, 248 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 15 March 2017

SQL DB now supports 4TB max database size

Azure SQL Database (SQL DB) has increased its max database size from 1TB to 4TB at no additional cost.

Customers using P11 and P15 premium performance levels can use up to 4 TB of included storage at no additional charge.  This 4 TB option is currently in public preview in… Read more

0 comments, 143 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 March 2017

Power BI and Excel options for Hadoop

Below I have attempted to list the various options for reporting off of Hadoop (HDInsight, HDP, Cloudera) using Power BI Desktop and Excel.  Some of the data sources prompt you to choose the Data Connectivity mode of either Import or DirectQuery.  For those that don’t you are limited to Import… Read more

0 comments, 220 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 9 March 2017

Azure Data Factory and SSIS compared

I see a lot of confusion when it comes to Azure Data Factory (ADF) and how it compares to SSIS.  It is not simply “SSIS in the cloud”.  See What is Azure Data Factory? for an overview of ADF, and I’ll assume you know SSIS.  So how are they… Read more

4 comments, 151 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 1 March 2017

IoT Hub vs. Event Hub

There can sometimes be confusion, in IoT scenarios, between IoT Hub and Event Hub, as they can both be valid choices for streaming data ingestion.  My Microsoft colleague, Steve Busby, an IoT Technology Specialist, is here to clear up the confusion:

The majority of the time, if the data… Read more

1 comments, 148 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 February 2017

Microsoft Products vs Hadoop/OSS Products

Microsoft’s end goal is for Azure to become the best cloud platform for customers to run their data workloads.  This means Microsoft will provide customers the best environment to run their big data/Hadoop as well as a place where Microsoft can offer services with our unique point-of-view.  Specific decision points… Read more

0 comments, 166 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 18 January 2017

Create quick queries quickly with SSAS in Azure

In a perfect world a data warehouse would always return all queries very quickly, no matter what the size or complexity of the data warehouse.  But the reality is that sometimes we won’t get the performance we need from the data warehouse, and the solution is to use a SQL… Read more

6 comments, 110 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 4 January 2017

Data gateway confusion

Microsoft has created data gateways as a way that cloud products such as Power BI and Azure Machine Learning can access on-prem data, often called a hybrid model.  This is most useful for companies that do not want to put their data in the cloud, or there is simply too… Read more

2 comments, 117 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 December 2016

What is HTAP?

I have been seeing the term “HTAP” mentioned a lot recently, and I thought I would briefly explain the term.  HTAP stands for Hybrid Transactional and Analytical Processing.

HTAP is used to describe the capability of a single database that can perform both online transaction processing (OLTP) and online analytical… Read more

1 comments, 103 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 14 December 2016

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator

For a long time clients would ask me how to determine the cost savings by migrating their applications and databases to Azure.  I never had a good answer until now: The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator.  Now in preview, just provide a brief description of your on-premises environment… Read more

3 comments, 90 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 6 December 2016

Azure Advisor

Azure Advisor is a really cool personalized recommendation engine that provides you with proactive best practices guidance on High Availability, Security, Performance and Cost when using Azure.  It is in public preview.  Learn more about Azure Advisor here.

Azure Advisor analyzes your resource configuration and usage telemetry to detect… Read more

0 comments, 108 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 1 December 2016

Analytics Platform System 2016 Release

Microsoft has a new release for the Analytics Platform System (APS).  This appliance update is called APS 2016 and has been released to manufacturing and is now generally available.  APS is Microsoft’s scale-out Massively Parallel Processing fully integrated system for data warehouse specific workloads.

This release is built on the… Read more

4 comments, 150 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 29 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: PolyBase enhancements

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  I’m writing a set of blogs covering the major announcements.  Next up is the PolyBase enhancements.

PolyBase is a technology that accesses and combines both non-relational and relational data, all from within SQL… Read more

2 comments, 81 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 22 November 2016

Microsoft Connect(); announcements

Microsoft Connect(); is a developer event from Nov 16-18, where plenty of announcements are made.  Here is a summary of the data platform related announcements:

  • Azure Data Lake Analytics is generally available in two datacenters in US (EMEA coming in Feb).  Azure Data Lake Analytics is a cloud analytics service…

Read more

0 comments, 387 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 17 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: Microsoft Professional Program for Big Data

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  I’m writing a set of blogs covering the major announcements.  Next up is the Microsoft Professional Program for Big Data.

A few months back, Microsoft started the Microsoft Professional Program for Data Science Read more

0 comments, 728 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 15 November 2016

Azure SQL Server 2016 VM

With Windows Server 2016 just been released, now is the perfect time to build an Azure VM with SQL Server 2016 on Windows Server 2016.  In a matter of minutes you can be playing and learning both platforms.  Below I will document the steps I took to build the VM… Read more

3 comments, 665 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 10 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: SQL DW free trial

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  I’m writing a set of blogs covering the major announcements.  Next up is the free trial of Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW).

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is an enterprise-class, massively parallel processing… Read more

1 comments, 327 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 8 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: Power BI reports on-prem in SSRS

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  I’m writing a set of blogs covering the major announcements.  Next up is the technical Preview for Power BI reports on-prem in SSRS.

The Technical Preview is a pre-configured Virtual Machine in the… Read more

0 comments, 298 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 3 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: Azure Analysis Services

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  I’m writing a set of blogs covering the major announcements.  Perhaps the biggest one is the introduction of the Azure Analysis Services Public Preview (OLAP).

This is a PaaS for SQL Server Analysis… Read more

3 comments, 410 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 1 November 2016

PASS Summit Announcements: DMA/DEA

Microsoft usually has some interesting announcements at the PASS Summit, and this year was no exception.  My next few blogs will cover the major announcements.  This first one is about the Data Migration Assistant (DMA) tool v 2.0 general availability and the technical preview of Database Experimentation Assistant (DEA). Read more

0 comments, 452 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 October 2016

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