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July 26, 2012

SQL Server 2012: SSIS Deployment Models

With SQL Server 2012, even Integration Services (SSIS) has started to support server deployment methodology similar to Analysis Services and Reporting Services. This new technique is called the project deployment model. This option will be available with the traditional deployment technique by using the Package Deployment utility. The advantage here would be to have all the configuration information related to deployed package available on the SSIS at a central location.

In earlier versions, the packages were either deployed as part of the file system or in msdb database in SQL Server. The issue here is the additional step of registering these packages to either file system or MSDB database using the Package Deployment utility. This step cannot be taken care during the package creation process in Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS). By default, the new SSIS project template is configured to use the project deployment model technique which can be converted to package deployment model based on preference.

ssis1.jpgThe package deployment model will not support any of the new features used by project deployment model (like parameters and shared connection mangers etc.) and suitable alternatives need to be provided for these features before conversion.
When the project deployment model is used, the project will be realized as a deployment file (.ispac extension) which will contain all the configuration information related to the packages in that project. When we double click on the deployment file, it will run the Integration Services Deployment wizard to publish the packages onto the Integration Services server. The deployment can also be done using the Deploy option provided when we right click on the solution in BIDS or the newly named SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT).
As part of the deployment, the Integration Services server name and the folder where the packages need to be deployed should be provided. SSIS uses an Integration Services catalog database to store this information. The catalog database can be created by connecting to the SQL Server instance and selecting "Create Catalog" option from context menu on Integration Services folder as shown in the figure. Note that only one catalog database can be created for a specific Integration Services server. 


The ispac file can be executed to deploy the packages to the SSIS server. Once done, tasks like configuring, validating and exporting packages can be performed from Management Studio. Also as part of SQL Server 2012, an Integration services dashboard is provided which presents information on executions, validations or any other operations that has taken place on the SSIS server.
The new deployment technique provides more flexibility in organizing your packages on a central server with improved management in SSMS. This comes as a nice alternative for the traditional deployment technique and should be readily accepted by the SSIS users.



July 20, 2012

Windows Phone 8 Platform Review

Microsoft had showcased Windows Phone 8 some weeks back at the Windows Phone Summit. You can find the videos from that summit here. If you are an enterprise customer and evaluating moving on to Phone 8, you may find my viewpoint paper published here helpful.

Do share back any comments you may have on the paper. I would be glad to discuss further.

Windows 8, Phone 8, Phone 7.8

Microsoft has annouced about general availability of Windows 8 on 26 Oct 2012. I have been playing around with dev preview, then consumer preview and now release preview and look forward to the final release. I do intend to update my home PC with Windows 8.

While there is no specific annoucement on Phone 8 or the update for existing consumers to Phone 7.8, I would guess that Phone 8 should release around the same time as Windows 8. The upgrade from 7.5 to 7.8 will probably happen after that, in an attempt to push some of the existing consumers to Phone 8.

[Edited 20 July] Updates on dates of Phone 8, Office 2013 etc

July 18, 2012

SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT)

SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) is a new SQL Server development tool released by Microsoft as an Add on to SQL 2012. SSDT is an integrated development tool available through Visual Studio, and provides the developer with the familiar Visual Studio tools development environment integrated with standard database features like Intellisense, T-SQL Editor, DB designer etc.

To access SSDT, one has to open Visual Studio -> New Project -> SQL Server Database Project. Previously, there were different templates existing for each version of SQL Server, which has now been integrated into one single template supporting different versions, depending on the target platform selected.

SSDT Template.jpg

Once in, you can see the solution explorer from where you can import different databases, dacpac files etc. This mode of SSDT is called offline mode, which means people can import the DB schema and objects, and start working on it offline without connecting to DB. For developers/administrators missing the SSMS kind of environment, SSDT also support online mode of development, by connecting through server explorer.
The offline mode of development of SSDT provides the same navigation tools as there for Visual Studio development projects, including error panes and Go To Definition kind of functionality.

SSDT Navigation.jpg

This mode also supports integration with source control to manage all the scripts.

The online mode provides the same SSMS kind of interface with visual editor and basic visual studio tools

SSDT SQL Server Object Explorer.jpg

In addition to above features, SSDT also provides out of box schema comparison and sync feature. Schema can be compared between the offline DB and online DB or any other combination of the two.

SSDT UpdateTarget.jpg

This is pretty useful in cases when changes done in offline mode have to be reviewed before applying on the live DB. Sync features helps in applying those changes, or reverting back the changes done in offline mode DB by synching it back from live database.

Overall, SSDT seems to be quite a useful product for database developers who are used to working in Visual Studio kind of interface, and also for database administrators as it gives them more control on aplying DB changes in a team environment, and also gives them the ability to verify them before applying to ensure data integrity and consistency.

July 17, 2012

Office 365

Consumer preview for Office 365 or Office 13 as it is called for Enterprise users is available now. Initial view is that looks great and definitely has used Metro styling. The application launch splash screen to the main user interface is all very metro like.


I will share more as I try more things, but one immediate comment which unfortunately is irritating me. In Outlook open any mail or try to type a new mail, the windows always seems to open maximized (looks like this is inline with Windows 8). Unlike earlier Outlook versions, this doesn't seem to remember my window size setting. Hopefully this will get fixed shortly.

[Edited 18 July] Fresh start today and the above problem is gone. The new email window is no long opening maximixed. A bit more research and I realized that the issue happens when running on my laptop which a resolution of 1366 x 768. How when running attached to a monitor at a resolution of 1280 x 1024, it works fine.

Also found a new issue today. When creating a calendar entry, CTRL + Left Arrow or Right Arrow to move between words doesn't seem to work.

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