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Category: Data

Bulk Copying Lots of Rows into SQL Server

Esat Erkec shows us how to use the Bulk Copy Program (BCP) to bulk load data into SQL Server:

If the installed version is older than the last version, we can download and install the latest version from the Microsoft website. The main capability of the SQL Server BCP is not much complex because it can only run with several arguments. The syntax of the BCP is like below:

bcp {table|view|”query”} {out|queryout|in|format} {data_file|nul} {[optional_argument]…}

For example, if we want to export any data of a table to a text file, we have to specify the table name, the out option, and the data file. The following command will export the Production table into the specified text file.

bcp AdventureWorks2017.Production.Product out C:\ExportedData\Product.txt -S localhost -T –w

I don’t know if I’m the only person for which this is true, but the data file format has always been a royal pain for me to get right, to the point where I’d happily build an SSIS package to perform bulk loading over having to use BCP myself.


Drift Monitoring with Azure Machine Learning

I take a look at dataset drift monitoring in Azure Machine Learning:

One of the things I like to say about machine learning model is, “shift happens.” By that, I mean that models lose effectiveness over time due to changes in underlying circumstances. Relationships between variables that used to hold no longer do, and so our model quality degrades. This means that we sometimes need to retrain models.

But there’s a cost to retraining models—that work can be computationally expensive and time-consuming. This concern is particularly salient if you’re in a cloud, as you pay directly for everything there. This means that we don’t want to retrain models unless we need to. But when do we know if we should retrain the model? We can watch for model degradation, but there’s another method: drift detection in your datasets.

Read on for a demonstration of how the product works and a couple of things to keep in mind.

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Getting the Stack Overflow Database for Demos

Brent Ozar has an update on getting the latest version of the Stack Overflow data set:

If you only have a limited amount of bandwidth, you don’t have to keep seeding the database after you get it – I’ve got it hosted on a handful of seedboxes around the world.

As with the original data dump, these are provided under cc-by-sa 4.0 license. That means you are free to share it and adapt it for any purpose, even commercially, but you must attribute it to the original authors (not me):

Click through for those attribution details as well as links to get the demo database in various sizes.

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The Data Mesh

James Serra explains what a data mesh is:

Its goal is to treat data as a product, with each source having its own data product manager/owner (who are part of a cross-functional team of data engineers) and being its own clearly-focused domain that has an autonomous offering, becoming the fundamental building blocks of a mesh, leading to a domain-driven distributed architecture. Note that for performance reasons, you could have a domain that aggregates data from multiple sources. Each domain should be discoverable, addressable, self-describing, secure (governed by global access control), trustworthy, and interoperable (governed by an open standard). Each domain will store its data in a data lake and in many cases will also have a copy of some of the data in a relational database (see Data Lakehouse defined for why you still want a relational database in most cases).

I’ll have to think more about this before I’m convinced. I’ll also need to think about the Aristotelian opposite of the data mesh.

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Data Quality Monitoring with SQL

Ryan Kearns and Barr Moses walk us through key principles for monitoring data quality in a relational database:

Next, we want to assess the field-level, distributional health of our data. Distribution tells us all of the expected values of our data, as well as how frequently each value occurs. One of the simplest questions is, “how often is my data NULL”? In many cases, some level of incomplete data is acceptable — but if a 10% null rate turns into 90%, we’ll want to know.

This covers a couple examples around data freshness and completeness, and I appreciate the level of detail in here. Nothing is earth-shattering, but at the same time, it’s important to have a catalog of the sorts of issues which can pop up. H/T Mark Hutchinson.

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Automating Data Comparison using Biml

Ben Weissman gives us an example of running data comparison using Biml:

When you build an ETL Solution, at some point you will most likely feel the need to compare the data between your source and your staging (or datawarehouse) database. There may be various reasons for them to be out of sync, such as delta loads, aggregations or added business logic, but one day your phone will ring and whoever is on the other end will tell you that the numbers are wrong. While this doesn’t necessarily have to be an issue within your ETL process, it might just as well be the report itself. In many cases, this is a good starting point to look at.

This article (formally published on PASS Community Blog) focusses on SSIS as your orchestrator, but the same principles could, obviously, also be applied to Azure Data Factory for example. Also, as we want to solve this task as lightweight as possible, we will, demonstrably, use Biml to implement it!

Click through to see how.

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Change Tracking Runthrough

Erik Darling provides a runthrough (which is a walkthrough but at a faster pace) of change tracking in SQL Server:

I’ve been working with CDC and CT way too much, and even I’m annoyed with how much it’s coming out in blog posts.

I’m going to cover a lot of ground quickly here. If you get lost, or there’s something you don’t understand, your best bet is to reference the documentation to get caught up.

Check it out.

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Setting up Azure Purview for Power BI

Soheil Bakhshi has a great step-by-step walkthrough for setting up Azure Purview:

Microsoft newly announced a piece of very exciting news that Azure Purview now supports Power BI. This is massive news from a data governance point of view. Azure Purview is the next generation of Azure Data Catalog with more metadata discovery power and the ability to use sensitivity labels. After reading the news, I immediately decided to set up my test environment and give it a go. I followed the steps mentioned in this article on the Microsoft documentation website but I faced some difficulties to get it to work. And here we are, another blog post to help you to set up the Azure Purview for Power BI.

Click through for a detailed walkthrough.

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Azure Purview: External Connections and the Starter Kit

Wolfgang Strasser continues a series on Azure Purview. First up is a look at external connections:

During my tests with Azure Purview I found out, that in my demo accounts (I created multiple to test it) the Management menu was missing some items.

Read on to learn why and how you can rectify this. Then, check out Wolfgang’s take on the Starter Kit:

Very often, when I want to test some new services I miss some infrastructure and environments I can start and play with. I am not talking about creating a new Azure Purview account (see my previous blog post – Creating an Azure Purview account) – I am talking about the data infrastructure to analyze, catalog and gain knowledge out of it.

We could start to create such an infrastructure, BUT: the Purview team create a Starter Kit to quickly create a data estate and configure everything that you can start with Purview within a view minutes.

Read on for one issue (of the self-inflicted variety) Wolfgang ran into during deployment. But it does look like a great way to get started with Purview and build up a relevant demo environment.

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Ignoring Bad Dates when Moving to Spark 3

Robert Blackburn shows us one way to handle bad dates when moving to Spark 3:

Moving from a Spark 2 to a Spark 3 runtime has a lot of benefits including big performance improvements through adaptive query executiondynamic partition pruning, and other optimizations. Some updates may require you to refactor your code. One of them is Delta tables now use the Proleptic Gregorian Calendar. Isn’t a calendar a calendar? Unfortunately, no. The Julian calendar has discrepancies with old dates. Specifically dates before 1582 and timestamps before 1900. Here we will dynamically update these dates for incoming source files.

If you would like to follow along in detail, I have a sample notebook that uses the community edition of Databricks. The DBC Archive file is here and the source file is here.

Fortunately, this change is unlikely to affect most of us, with perhaps the most common issue being that you used 0001-01-01 as a default date.

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