Thursday, May 31, 2012


I wanted to take a break from SQL BI today to post about the success of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft. For those that may not be up-to-date on the space program here in the United States, the Space Shuttle fleet was retired last year after more than 30 years of service. This left a huge void in the US capabilities to get supplies and astronauts up to and off of the International Space Station (ISS). NASA has been working with private industry in the US to provide these services so that NASA could focus on longer duration space missions. Many companies in the US have been competing for these contracts and SpaceX was one of the first. SpaceX was co-founded by Elon Musk, who also co-founded PayPal and Tesla Motors.

Fast forward to the last couple of years where SpaceX has had their ups and downs on getting their own rockets to launch. But in late 2010 they were able to successfully launch their Falcon 9 rocket (the number 9 signifies the number of rocket engines) with the Dragon capsule. That launch made them the first private company to launch a spacecraft of their own into orbit and return a capsule back to Earth. The next step was going to be similar with a close approach to the ISS, but not be able to dock. After proving their capabilities in that first launch NASA and SpaceX decided to combine 2 flights and allow them to attempt the docking with ISS on the next launch.

On May 22, 2012 SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 rocket with another Dragon capsule on board. This time the Dragon capsule was loaded with over 1,000 pounds of cargo for the ISS. The Dragon capsule was able to prove that it could perform the required tasks for docking and it was able to be successfully captured by the ISS on May 25, 2012. The crew of the ISS was able to open the capsule and swap out the cargo with items that could be returned to Earth. This is a very important difference then any of the other vehicles that can currently dock with the ISS, as this is the only one currently proven that can return cargo back to Earth. The Dragon capsule lands in the ocean the same way the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules used to. And today the Dragon capsule was released from ISS and safely landed in the Pacific Ocean.

This is a huge step in US space capabilities and I'm sure that it will lead to many other successes in the future for SpaceX and the other private companies that will be providing this capability. I'm sure there will be more setbacks, but I hope that these companies can continue to provide these capabilities and others. Hopefully SpaceX will also be allowed to use these Dragon capsules to take human crews up to the ISS and other space habitats built in the future and maybe even go on from there to the Moon or further.

Congratulations SpaceX and NASA!

Monday, May 21, 2012

SSIS 2012 Microsoft Connector for Oracle Upgrade Issues

For anyone that uses SSIS to get data from Oracle data sources you have probably had the pain of working with the components provided by Microsoft in the default installation of SSIS. You may have even downloaded the free Oracle tools for Windows that provide some more options for connecting to Oracle. Both of these choices are ok and may work fine in your environments, but for the best solution Microsoft worked with Attunity to make their connectors available for everyone to use without any additional licensing cost (FREE)! These connectors have been considered the best Oracle connectors that you can use with SSIS for quite awhile now. When SQL Server 2012 was released in April v2.0 of these connectors were also released, along with an updated v1.2 for older versions of SSIS.

Now for the twist in the story, what is the upgrade path if you are currently using Microsoft Connectors v1.1 for Oracle by Attunity (wow, that is a mouth full) and you want to upgrade your SSIS packages to SSIS 2012? Logic would tell you that you should be able to install SSIS 2012 and the Microsoft Connectors v2.0 for Oracle by Attunity and then just run the upgrade wizard in SSDT (SQL Server Data Tools) to get your packages up and running in SSIS 2012 and latest Oracle connector, right? Not so fast, unfortunately if you try this your package will be upgraded to SSIS 2012, but your Oracle components that you created using the older versions of the Attunity connectors will no longer work and you may not be able to edit or even delete them from your package! Below is a screenshot that shows what your component will look like after the upgrade:

You will also see errors, similar to this:
Error loading xxx.dtsx: The component is missing, not registered, not upgradeable, or missing required interfaces. The contact information for this component is "Oracle Source;Microsoft Connector for Oracle by Attunity; Attunity Ltd.; All Rights Reserved;;2".

Error loading xxx.dtsx: The component metadata for "Oracle Source" could not be upgraded to the newer version of the componenet. The PerformUpgrade method failed.

You will not be able to edit the component to try and fix it and depending on how many of these components you are using in each package you may even see this error message when you try to delete the component from your package:

So, if you are unable to edit or even delete these invalid components from you package, what do you do? The only option available to you at this point is to edit the .dtsx file in a text editor so that you can see the XML, but if you go that route and you are not very familiar with XML structure or how the XML for SSIS is setup you might end up making a bigger mess.

Thankfully, after a week or so of fighting this same issue for a client that I'm currently working with we were able to get a solution from Microsoft Support that is very quick and will prevent you from losing any of your query, mapping or metadata! The fix is to use a text editor (I prefer Notepad++) and you can do a search and replace for the following GUID in your packages:
and replace it with:
The first GUID should be unique to v1.1 of the connector, so if you have upgraded to v1.2 that GUID may be different.

Once I completed this on all 120+ packages that used the Oracle connector and reloaded the updated versions in SSDT all of the error messages went away and the data flows appeared correctly as shown below:

I am not sure if this will be a continuing issue with these connectors as new versions are released or if this is because of the major changes required going from previous versions of SSIS to SSIS 2012. Either way, I wanted to make sure this information was out there for those are upgrading to avoid some of the problems we had.

Friday, May 11, 2012

SSIS 2012 Presentations

I'm going to be getting back into presenting again! I used to present on a variety of topics at local User Groups in the past, but took an extended break when I got really busy at work and life. Things are finally settling down again and now I'm really looking forward to getting back into presenting on a more regular basis.

My first presentation will be a 30 minute presentation at this Thursday's Denver SQL Server User Group meeting. This presentation will be a preview of a presentation that I hope to present in many different venues on the new features in SSIS 2012. I came up with what I think is a very clever title for these presentations, "SSIS 2012: More Than Just a Pretty UI". I was looking for a title that was catchy and also captured what a lot of people have already heard about SSIS 2012. This will be a demo only presentation showing as many features as I can, and there probably are enough new features in SSIS alone that I could go for hours. I'll probably change around what I demo each time I present as I find out what items demo better then others. For those that have not presented, this is probably the most dangerous type of presentation to do, where you are doing as many live demos as you can.

I will also be doing the first full length version of this presentation on Saturday 5/19/2012 at Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta! I'm really happy to be a speaker at this event, I have attended this event and even volunteered to help set it up in the past. This will be my first time presenting at this event, so I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone at this annual free training event that covers Development, SharePoint, Office and SQL Server among many other topics. Make sure you register at and come to my presentation!

Keep your eyes open and I may be presenting in an area near you!