Using Power BI Desktop to Visualize SQL Server Metadata

You can easily use PowerBI Desktop to show graphically how your database is growing, which tables are taking the most space, how various parts of SQL Server is consuming memory, its use of indexes and so on. Sure, you can create graphs in SSMS, but with PowerBI, you can create reports that you can then publish to others, and which allow drill-down. It is a great way to get familiar with PowerBI Desktop as well. Rob Sheldon shows how simple it is to do.… Read more

Importing Excel Data into Power BI Desktop

In any commercial setting, Excel Spreadsheets remain the preferred way of collecting and analysing data, and it makes sense that it should be easy to get the data into PowerBI so it can be made more generally available for sharing and further analysis. As well as the data, we'd probably need the other analysis components such as the Power Pivot tables, Power View visualizations, Power Query queries. It is all possible, and Robert Sheldon demonstrates how.… Read more

Retrieving SQL Server Query Execution Plans

Execution plans explain all you need to know about query performance, and how to fine-tune. Sure, you can see them in SSMS, but what if you need to drill into to the important details? What about using DMVs, Extended Events or SET statements to get at the execution plans? To get the best use of execution plans you need to be able to get right information from the right plan at the right time. Robert Sheldon explains how.… Read more

More Power BI to your Elbow

Power BI Desktop continues to evolve. There have been many improvements to the reporting side that together make it easier to get from the data to the visualisation as quickly as possible. You can now create line charts that let users drill down into hierarchical data. There are now ways of adding dynamic reference lines to a visualization that provide users with relevant reference points. Robert Sheldon demonstrates how to combine these features to great effect.… Read more

SQL Server for Linux

Although SQL Server for Linux removes the concern that adopting SQL Server forces you to also adopt the Windows platform, it could also provide a useful alternative platform, and a more obvious alternative to Oracle. There are, however, several obvious concerns as to how such a product could ever achieve parity with the existing Windows-based product. Microsoft have made an interesting move with several ramifications, as Robert Sheldon explains.… Read more

SQL Server Access Control: The Basics

No technology yet invented can in any way allow us to neglect the task of ensuring the security of the database by controlling access. Security must be applied in depth, and the database is designed provide a system that will thwart even the most determined external attack. If it seems a bit complicated at first, that is no longer an excuse now that Rob Sheldon has provided this simple guide for getting started. … Read more

SQL Server Statistics Basics

Distribution statistics are used by SQL Server's Query Optimiser to determine a good execution plan for your SQL query. You don't need to know about them to execute queries, but the better you understand them, the better you can optimise your queries and sort out performance problems. Robert Sheldon once more provides a simple guide.… Read more

Windows Containers and Docker

Windows Server 2016 features support for containers. These are not Linux-based, but containers that run on Windows and run Windows on the inside. These conform to the Open Container Initiative (OCI). They allow you to run applications insulated from the rest of the system, within portable containers that include everything an application needs to be fully functional. As they did with Linux, containers will change the nature of the software supply chain for Windows users.… Read more

SSIS in SSDT: The Basics

SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is a fast and reliable way of importing and exporting data, but it can be tricky to learn, initially. Rob Sheldon provides a beginner's guide to get you started with using SSIS with Visual Studio and SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT)… Read more

Taking Azure SQL Data Warehouse for a Test-Drive

Azure SQL Data Warehouse uses SQL to query the data, but there are some differences to SQL Server's dialect of TSQL, and queries don't necessarily work in the same way. DBAs are also required to use SSDT to access Azure SQL Data Warehouse. It is worth taking the time to try the preview of the product, and take it for a 'spin around the block', following Robert Sheldon's walk-through.… Read more

Connecting to SQL Data Warehouse

The most frustrating thing with any new system is often just working out how to connect to it. Oddly, you can't use SSMS with SQL Data Warehouse, but it is fine with SSDT, SSIS, Power BI desktop, sqlcmd, BCP, and a range of Microsoft cloud services - there are PowerShell Cmdlets too. Rob Sheldon provides the details.… Read more

SQL Server Metadata Functions: The Basics

To be able to make full use of the system catalog to find out more about a database, you need to be familiar with the metadata functions. They save a great deal of time and typing when querying the metadata. Once you get the hang of these functions, the system catalog suddenly seems simple to use, as Robert Sheldon demonstrates in this article.… Read more

In Search of the Cortana Analytics Suite

Cortana Analytics Suite is important and significant, but it is difficult to work out why or how from the existing 'information'. After more setbacks than Dr Livingstone, Bob Sheldon emerged from the jungle of marketing hyperbole triumphantly with a small diagram which explained it. Here he reveals the individual components, and finds them, in combination, to be a curiously interesting attempt to bring Big Data under contro… Read more

Azure SQL Data Warehouse

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a fully-managed and scalable cloud service. It is still in preview, but solid. Not only is it compatible with several other Azure offerings, such as Machine Learning and Data Factory, but also with various existing SQL Server tools and Microsoft products. It talks Power BI. Are we now seeing the final piece of the Azure jigsaw fall into place?… Read more

Five Online Database Modelling Services

To design, or redesign, a database of any complexity, the Entity-Relationship modelling tool becomes essential. The specialized tools that have dominated the industry for a long while are expensive and are installed on a workstation. Now that browser technology has progressed so rapidly, the online database modelling tools have become viable and are starting to attract the attention of database designers. Are they good enough to use now? Robert Sheldon finds out.… Read more

SQL Server System Views: The Basics

When maintaining or refactoring an unfamiliar database, you'll need a fast way to uncover all sorts of facts about the database, its tables, columns keys and indexes. SQL Server's plethora of system catalog views, INFORMATION_SCHEMA views, and dynamic management views contain all the metadata you need, but it isn't always obvious which views are best to use for which sort of information. Many of us could do with a simple explanation, and who better to provide one than Rob Sheldon?… Read more

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