Monday, March 24, 2014

SQL Server Data Tools - An Installation Adventure

With SQL Server 2012, your old friend "Business Intelligence Developer Studio" or "BIDS" has been replaced by a component called "SQL Server Data Tools".  SQL Server Data Tools, or SSDT is the primary authoring environment for SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) projects.  In addition, a new way of working with SQL Server Databases is available.  The new method treats a SQL Server database as a Visual Studio project, enabling adaption of developer concepts like version control and deployment.  

While SSDT is a very innovative product, the steps to arrive at a working installation of SSDT can be a bit of an adventure.  If you have installed SQL Server 2012 from installation media, selecting all features, or at least selected all client tools, your adventure begins here.  

An entry for SQL Server Data Tools will appear in your Start menu, under the folder for "Microsoft SQL Server 2012"

Click on SQL Server Data Tools and you will soon see that the "Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Shell" is starting up.

You will be promoted to select environment settings.  If you used SQL Server 200X's Business Intelligence Developer Studio or plan to focus this machine on SQL Server Business Intelligence projects, select "Business Intelligence Settings".  Click 'Start Visual Studio'.

After a potentially brief pause, and this loading screen...

… and you are brought into the 'Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Shell"

Click on New Project…

Now you can actually create SSAS, SSIS, or SSRS projects at this point.  You are good to go as far as that feature is concerned.  Then check out the new option "SQL Server"…

Note the text "Provides instructions for installing Microsoft SQL Server Data Tools from the web".  Clicking this link presents this message...

Clicking "Install" opens this web page...

If you click on 'Download SQL Server Data Tools', as of the time of this writing, you're taken to a page about downloading Visual Studio 2013 trial editions.  I went this route on another machine with Visual Studio 2013 installed, so far, haven't quite figured out how to get SSDT enabled, so...

Click back…
And click SSDT Visual Studio 2012

On the next page, scroll about halfway down to step 2 and click 'Download SQL Server Data Tools for Visual Studio 2012'

For a single installation, go ahead and click 'Run'.  (To save the file for use on other workstations, click 'Save')

Then thoroughly read the License Terms, and if they are amenable, click 'I agree…' and 'Install'
The Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5.  Your environment may vary.
Restart is required if the .NET Framework 4.5 is installed

After the restart, Setup will continue

After this, the SQL Server Data project will be available under 'SQL Server Data Tools', right?  No, to access the SQL Server tools, they're under 'Microsoft Visual Studio 2012'

The 'SQL' menu  with the 'Schema Compare' and 'Data Compare' are now available.

The SQL Server Data Tools look very compelling.  As I'm help my organization migrate to SQL Server 2012, the new features will replace some work that currently requires manual processes or intricate scripting.  Perhaps the install story will tighten up as SQL Server 2014 is released or the Visual Studio 2013 version becomes a bit more clear to me  It is a bit of an adventure to install - nothing difficult, just unclear at some steps the progress towards a working installation.  Hopefully, this blog post helps you be more confident when you decide to start using SQL Server Data Tools.

Friday, March 21, 2014

IT Project Staffing for Emerging and Legacy applications

I've been catching up in the past week or on the Oregon Health Exchange ("Covered Oregon") issues.  This apparently started popping off in November 2013.  There was a recent spate of articles on GovTech regarding the oversight.

The Cover Oregon Website Implementation Assessment by First Data contained an interesting nugget in their recommendations regarding IT Project Staffing:

IT Project Staffing - The exchange project was a large, complex IT project. Complex IT projects introduce an innate resource risk that can only be mitigated through careful staff planning. First Data recommends the State reconsider how IT projects are staffed in the State. The exchange project filled many of its staffing needs using temporary positions, which are difficult to fill due to their lack of employment security. Additionally, qualified staff hired into temporary positions are likely to continue to search for alternate permanent state positions. Consequently, the exchange project regularly struggled to sustain the anticipated project team size and skills. As a result, a large number of staff members were acquired through contracts. Where possible, introducing temporary positions or consultant positions to an organization to backfill or support the systems that will be replaced would naturally align staff attrition with the technology and application lifecycles. Reserving the permanent or long-term positions for the ‘go-forward’ technologies will also provide the state with the capability to develop stronger, more cohesive IT support teams. 

The opposite tact is common, historically, of course.  The emerging project is established with temporary positions or consultants.  Existing, permanent staff remain with the legacy application.  This very commonly leads to a brain drain as soon as it becomes clear the emerging project will be the new normal.  Absent extraordinary efforts to retain those experienced staff - pay, working environment, chances for new projects - they will simply start searching for other employment.

First Data's recommendation is the opposite.  Place the temporary positions with the legacy system immediately, where it will naturally tail down.  If the legacy system is needed longer, extending a temporary position is relatively easy, the person in that position may be relieved not to have to start a job search soon.  The experienced staff immediately start adding value to the emerging system based on the familiarity with the organization and working environment.