04 October 2016

Why Would I Ever Need to Partition My Big ‘Raw’ Data?

Whether you are running an RDBMS, or a Big Data system, it is important to consider your data-partitioning strategy. As the volume of data grows, so it becomes increasingly important to match the way you partition your data to the way it is queried, to allow 'pruning' optimisation. When you have huge imports of data to consider, it can get complicated. Bartosz explains how to get things right; not perfect but wisely.… Read more
16 September 2016

How to Start Big Data with Apache Spark

It is worth getting familiar with Apache Spark because it a fast and general engine for large-scale data processing and you can use you existing SQL skills to get going with analysis of the type and volume of semi-structured data that would be awkward for a relational database. With an IDE such as Databricks you can very quickly get hands-on experience with an interesting technology.… Read more
16 September 2016

Azure SQL Data Warehouse: Explaining the Architecture Through System Views

The architecture of Azure SQL Data Warehouse isn't easy to explain briefly, but if you have some useful queries that access the management and catalog views, and diagrams that show how they relate together, you can very quickly get a feel for what is going on under the hood. By using and extending these queries that use these views, you can check on a variety waits, blocking, status, table distribution and data movement in ASDW.… Read more
08 September 2016

SQL Database: How to Configure Active Geo-Replication

Active Geo-location is powerful magic for ensuring the high availability of a Azure SQL database, and for disaster-recovery. In choosing the best options, you need to accurately understand the value that the business places on the service you're running, long it will take for a secondary replica to be in synch with the primary replica, the importance of spreading the location of replicas widely, and the maximum tolerable unscheduled downtime. Just clicking all the options could prove to be expensive. … Read more
04 July 2016

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
06 May 2016

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
05 May 2016

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
12 April 2016

Comparing Networking Options in Azure

What are your options for connecting to an Azure VM? Sure, a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connection will get you started but you'll soon need a full secure VPN connection. Azure can provide three different options for doing this: Point-to-Site (P2S), Site-to-Site (S2S), and ExpressRoute, but what are their relative advantages, and which one is right for the way you need to use Azure? … Read more
25 February 2016

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
24 February 2016

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
18 February 2016

Using Azure KeyVault with Node.js

Some of the most intractable problems of application design are concerned with how to store credentials for accessing sensitive application data, keys and, configuration settings in code. With Azure Key Vault you don't have to. You can, instead just authorise an application to access and use a Key Vault and perform operations that require authentication against a KeyVault. Christos Matskas shows how an application can interact with the service, using a node.JS application as an example.… Read more
26 January 2016

How to Build and Deploy Azure IaaS VMs with PowerShell

The whole point of using a cloud service is to be able to use it intensively for a brief period just when it is needed and then clear out all your work when you've finished. This means automation to make the process as quick and easy as possible. It is likely to mean creating a VM, provisioning it from scratch and spinning it up using PowerShell. Relax, grab the popcorn, and let Adam Bertram show you how he does it in Azure.… Read more
22 December 2015

Microsoft Azure DocumentDB

DocumentDB is a late-entrant in the Document-oriented database field. However, it benefits from being designed from the start as a cloud service with a SQL-like language. It is intended for mobile and web applications. Its JSON document-notation is compatible with the integrated JavaScript language that drives its multi-document transaction processing via stored procedures, triggers and UDFs.… Read more
20 November 2015

Azure Data Lakes

The Data Lake is basically a large repository of data for 'big data' analytic workloads, held in its original format. The Azure Data Lake adds Data Lake Analytics, and Azure HDInsight. Although the tools are there for Big Data Analysis, it will require new skills to use, and a heightened attention to Data Governance if it is to appeal to the average enterprise.… Read more

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