Friday, May 28, 2010

How to learn SSIS / SSAS / SSRS / Data Warehousing and start a career in Microsoft Business Intelligence

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I often get queries regarding career guidance, from my blog readers or from readers who follow articles authored by me. These readers are mostly BI aspirants or those who feel saturation in their present working area like .NET or DBA or SQL Developer work profile. Also some female readers do ask me that they have not been working after starting a family for a while (couple of years) and now they are in need to start a job and they want to start a career in microsoft business intelligence.

Some of the common questions that I often get to hear from readers are as below, and in public interest I would try to answer these questions. I remain / remained on the interview panel at Capgemini Mumbai for screening candidates on my relevant skills, but the below views are strictly and completely my personal views and has nothing to do with the view of my employer.

1) How to start a career in MS BI and what to learn - SSIS / SSAS / SSRS ?

If you are facing this question when you are starting your fresh career, it's not in your hand. The reason is that when one joins an organization as a fresher, one does not have enough liberty to choose the technology one wishes to work as the company is investing on the candidate to train him/her and then assign a project. Also freshers generally are not billed to the client, so the billing productivity is almost zero for at least an year. Still, I suggest to keep learning these technology and always keep your resource management aware of your desire and readiness to work on these technologies.

If you are already an experienced professional, things would be even harder. After a level of experience on generally acquires some stiffness in attitude and aptitude.

One needs to show readiness to work and treated again as a novice, and leave all the fat of your experience behind to make an entry into a complete new field. You might be an experienced DBA or .NET Developer / Designer or some module / team / project lead, but that doesn't change the fact that you are a novice in MS BI and the first project you land in MS BI would be a beginner's level work. Then you slowly grow in the field with experience. There is no shortcut to hardwork.

In terms of aptitude, any knowledge is never wasted. Almost all MS technologies integrate in one or other way with MS BI upto an extent. In the order of increasing complexity, one can start with SSRS, then SSIS and then SSAS. Data Warehousing is more a process than just an analytical database. So once you are clear of the concepts of DW, one can take a specialized area of it using any of the MS BI Technologies. So anytime is good to start a career in MS BI or Data Warehousing, but don't rush to shed off your existing knowledge. Make a smooth and gradual transition, one cannot suddenly come in the skin of MS BI Developer / Architect. We are IT Professionals not X-Men :)

Books are your best friends. Start with foundation level books, seek guidance of some experienced BI Professional in your organization or over the web and then pick up a direction of your comfort.

2) Where to find books or training material to learn SSIS / SSAS / SSRS ?

If you work with at CMM Level 3 or plus kind of organization, you can always access your corporate library. If not, most of the organizations have subscription for employees, try searching on the same. Try searching downloads section on my blog, you would find quite a couple of books which are free from Microsoft or Red-Gate courtesy. Still if you have not found book you need, I suggest to make some investment in your career and buy the book. Investing some money is worth than wasting time to find a free ebook over the web. Remember, time is money and wasting time is equivalent to wasting money if you can envision it.

3) Which certifications to take up for MS BI and why to get certified ?

As of the draft of this post, the latest version is SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft has announced that there would be no new certifications for R2 version. One can start with MCTS track, then on passing more exams one can earn MCITP and then final level is Microsoft Certified Master. These are online exams and can be appeared at any authorised Prometric or Vue testing centre. Passing score mostly for any exam remains 70%. Check out this URL for more information.

Most IT Professionals have the image that getting certified can be listed as one point during the annual review process and can be a glittering gem for justifying a good rating during the appraisal meeting. This is a myth, in fact if you get certified by resorting to wrong means, you are backbiting your career and interviewer like me would be more interested to grind you more to test your skills. Get certified to gain knowledge, to prove and benchmark your knowledge ONLY.

4) How to pass an interview for a MS BI work profile, when one has got no experience in MS BI ?

I would suggest that manage to get a project in MS BI with your present employer and after gaining experience, do think of making a change for right reasons. If you are making a change, do not expect your prospective employer to hire you for a technology which is not your primary strength. Join the company based on your primary skills, prove your technical strength on your primary skills and then based on your image as a professional and your knowledge in MS BI, try to get yourself landed in a MS BI Project.

5) How should I prepare for MS BI i.e. SSIS / SSAS / SSRS Interview and where can I get interview questions ?

This is one question that I encounter the most. If you are looking for interview questions over the web, then I would say that you are definitely not 100% ready to appear an interview. The level of readiness you have of taking someone's interview, is the level of readiness you have of appearing for an interview. In my views, the best way is to join MSDN Forums for respective technologies like SSIS Forum, SSRS Forum or SSAS Forum. A lot of real life questions are discussed and answered everyday by professionals of all kinds of maturity level. Be a part of it, help others to help yourself. Beware, that you would find some MVP hungry folks on those forums who would answer any and every question to gain points in whatever way they could. Ignore such people, and focus on your objective of learning the technology by studying problems and devising solutions for the same.

6) Where can I get training on MS BI / SSIS / SSAS / SSRS ?

Many companies do conduct corporate training, one can always attend those ones. If you do not have that facility available, I would not suggest to attend some classes as that definitely costs some huge money and when you do not have idea of what you should get trained on, it doesn't make sense to get trained in something when you are not aware of it's significance.

When I started my blog, I was not aware of an army of workshippers, whom I term as Blog / MVP workshippers. Approach any famous blogger or MVP or any author with the intention of acquiring knowledge or getting guidelines to move in the right direction. And mostly such people won't charge you anything for such help. If they ask fees for even such guidelines, they are not worth consulting, avoid them. Keep in view that everything that glitters is not gold, and every famous IT Professional is not knowledgeable in the proportion of his/her popularity. Use your head, seek guidelines, study the trend, read books and DO NOT be a dumb workshipper or follower of some popular IT figure.

This is by far the lengthiest post on my blog, and I was able to stretch this long as I can see many people burning in the skin of their present career, waiting or confused to make a start in Business Intelligence or Data Warehousing. If you have read till here, I hope you have found this information useful. All the best with your Quest !!


Anonymous said...

This was a good and useful article in simple english no jargon.Thanks for the info.

Kuldip Bhatt said...

very nice article.
i am facing same problem as you define in your post
i have 5 years of experience but i was working on product of EMR like healthcare product which is windows application.
so that's the problem no knowledge upgradation.
I am looking for change but problem is market expect more from us.
but what can we do we work as company requier.
i dont know ssrs because our company work on crystal report.
thanks nice artilce

iSachin said...

Excellent post Siddharth, I m looking for change in the field after working for 4 years on C# and Windows.

Your article has definately helped me and boosted my confidence.


Mega said...

Nice one! Well said "Get certified to gain knowledge, to prove and benchmark your knowledge ONLY."

As far as i know most of the people clear the certification only to add it CV

Rakhi said...

Thanks for providing insights, it was a very encouraging article for someone like me who needs to start her career afresh in BI. Your suggestions are worth noting.

Thank you once Again

dhananjay said...

Hi Siddhart Very good guidelines. I would like to ask you that as I have complited my Management PG and now even I learn MS BI do I have any scope in future. please do the needfull

Mrinal said...


Extremely useful blog..

Is it essential to have a prior knowledge of .net before one get into SSRS? Well, I have the knowledge of VBA and SQL, is it going to help.

Siddharth Mehta said...

SQL is necessary, .NET is good to have.

Siddharth Mehta

vikas said...

nice article siddharth, can u mention some books which are worth buying,there will be lot of books in the market, which one will be good to use

Anonymous said...

Hi Siddharth

Very nice article with lot of useful stuff.

ravindra said...

Your article has definately helped me, Thanks...

Hani Damania said...

Your article is really motivating :)

sushil said...

Very Nice Siddharth... I was suppose to join one class.The person was asking from me of Rs. 15K for 4 to 5 lecture.
I think you blog is very helpful..

harshita said...

Article is very good..

Anonymous said...

Good one. very genuine advice. Thanks a lot.


Really informative post, congested with knowledge and guidance. I am a junior developer, with prime focus on C# and SQL development, I have taken key interest in BI and as a result have taken a DW course. What I have taken out of this article is that there is no substitution from hard-work. Thank you Siddharth.

Thato Mokolopo said...

Thank you for this article. This the kind of advise you pay for.

Anonymous said...

Its really very nice and inspirational article. Please keep writing on such career guidance topic too.

Swapnil Kalkar said...

Hey Siddharth,

I am impressed with your blog.
I got answers of all questions that i had in my mind.
This article increased my confidence level.


deepak pimple said...

Thankz there is no option for hardwork but getting mentor in life too important.
Keep on updating new things in MSBI and latest trend in IT

Sunanda Adhatrao said...

Hi Siddharth, Excellent post , I'm looking for change in the field after working for 2.8 years on c# and Sql 2008.
Your post has definately helped me and boosted my confidence a lot. Very helpful. Thanks for the info. and guidance

rajasree jaladi said...

It's a Nice Article Siddharth.. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Siddharth,

This blog is really worth for people like me who really want to build the their carrier in MS BI.

I have few doubts please clarify.
I have 5 years experience in Mainframes now I want build my carrier in MS BI.
Can you please suggest me how to start my preparation.

Anonymous said...

Nice article. I liked your perspective on grilling more when we portray a certification. Keep writing. Thank you

Kamal Singh said...

It is a Nice article Sid...

It covered nicely all the questions I had. Need to learn new technologies....

Though, I have not really worked for any IT related jobs, still, I have strong desire to become a BI developer....

Cjamal Basha said...

Your Article is Absolutely Motivated.

Atal Sabat said...

Hi Siddharth,

As u mentioned above I too faced the difficulties which a fresher faces. I was put into a project which had just started then, for the first 3 months I had no work to be assigned, then I was told to learn powershell, this went for 2 months then they hired an experienced one for the same....then I was put into manual testing, this went around for 9 months..then I got Sql which I had interest on...i learned basics and worked as T-SQL developer for 7-8 months..then our project suddenly had a break down...and now m in bench for 2-3 as m searching for a new profile is not that valuable for good m planning to learn and go ahead with MS BI..
Please guide me, as per my situation, as if what should be done so that it enhances my career. Ur opinion wud be of great motivation for me


Raghava MSBI said...

Really Nice and useful article Siddharth. It is worth sharing this article so that it reaches many people. I am sharing it on my FB page.

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