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Category Archives: SQL Server 2012

About the Client
Smartsoft is a leading provider of workflow management software.  Smartsoft has helped top American businesses improve returns on investment, decrease costs, and increase efficiency in operations.  Since its founding in 1997, Smartsoft has grown to become a full service company for its SAP clients.

Business Situation
Given Smartsoft’s continued growth, it needed a more resilient and elastic environment and decided to switch from on premise infrastructure to Azure.  Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services—analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage, and web—for moving faster, achieving more, and saving money. Smartsoft enlisted the assistance of Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in solving the IT challenges of companies like Smartsoft.

Henson Group team moved the customer from on premise infrastructure to Azure. The customer had issues with their on-premise Infrastructure and wanted to be moved to a more resilient and elastic environment. Henson Group worked with the client to complete the migration of their servers which included applications and SQL servers. The high-level deliverables included:

  • Build a new Windows 2012 R2 server
  • Add server to Active Directory and configure access
  • Install SQL Express 2008 R2 on new server
  • Move data from existing MS061 server to Azure server (~120 GB)
  • Move 2 SQL express 2008 R2 databases to new server
  • Move 4-5 IIS Application to new server
  • Support testing on server and applications
  • Final migration of SQL databases on go-live

The primary objectives of this project were to increase the resiliency and elasticity of Smartsoft environment to prepare for future growth while maintaining low costs.

Henson Group was also tasked with improving the quality and efficiency of the system, while reducing risk.  Upgrades were to be made with minimal disruption to the work at Smartsoft.

In addition, Smartsoft wanted to gain practical experience during the transition to Microsoft Azure.

Results and Benefits
The Henson Group oversaw the development, implementation, and transition for Smartsoft from on premise to Azure.  The transition included building a new Windows 2012 R2 server, upgrading software and data management systems, and moving pre-existing data to new server. The project included support testing on the servers and applications.

Due to its transition to Azure, Smartsoft reduced it’s administration by 39%.  With this solution, the hardware is maintained by Microsoft, so the client saved 24% on hardware cost maintenance.  Smartsoft realized a ROI within 6 months of the migration.

Elasticity was another benefit Smartsoft received after its transition to Azure.  Because of the migration to Azure, the client is able to install and use servers according to their need.

With the implementation of the Azure solution, quality has greatly improved.  Smartsoft is now experiencing 99.99% reliability with the Azure cloud solution.

Risk reduction was improved, as the transition to Azure led to a higher rate of server and data security.  This security improvement also increased its access to its IT infrastructure.


  • Microsoft Azure
  • Windows Server 2012
  • SQL 2008 R2
  • IIS 7.0
  • Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
  • Microsoft System Center 2012

To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft Azure deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner Henson Group, please email

NBCU owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and  entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses.

As such, NBCU has some unique challenges related to the sharing of information, creative assets and knowledge management amongst its geographically distributed teams working on programs, projects and productions spanning the globe. With information scattered across multiple, disparate systems, NBCU needed to re-envision the manner in which users collaborate with colleagues, stakeholders and partners.

Collaboration, though, was just one of NBCU’s challenges, identified in an internal assessment, identifying the following issues:

  • Lack of a strategic alignment for IT systems
  • Limited information availability across multiple internal/external distribution channels
  • Disconnected sites and Emergent desktops
  • Inefficient, adhoc use of collaboration tools
  • Overly complex governance policies and inadequate security

The Henson Group, Inc. – a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in collaboration solutions for media and professional services companies – accepted the challenge to conceive and create a state-of-the-art collaboration platform enabling NBCU to achieve its vision of a High Performance Digital Workspace.


Henson Group assigned a team of expert Microsoft consultants, engineers and developers to design and develop an integrated digital resource collaboration platform to meet NBCU’s requirements.

Following a thoughtful evaluation process, including extensive reviews of key stakeholders, Henson Group documented creative, business, technical, security and financial requirements. The project was led by a senior Henson Group architect in partnership with Microsoft team, producing a recommendation to implement a Microsoft SharePoint-based architecture to provide NBCU with a game-changing platform for centralizing and streamlining its massive digital content inventory and workflows.

Subsequent to requirement gathering and solution architecture design, Henson Group initiated a “replatforming” phase – essentially evaluating, updating and migrating all required applications of the enterprise onto a single collaborative platform. Simultaneously, Henson Group partnered with stakeholders across the NBCU organization to reorganize massive troves of creative content assets.

Henson Group established Staging and Production environments within NBCU, supported by multiple SQL Server instances configured for High Availability. Meanwhile, Henson Group’s SharePoint team of architects and developers customized the collaboration platform, migrating into the platform integration with updated legacy micro-sites.

Mapping and innovating on NBCU’s existing collaboration processes, Henson Group developers leveraged Microsoft Workflow Manager 1.0, integrated tightly within SharePoint to deliver robust capabilities for authoring, hosting and managing workflows. These workflows within NBCU’s platform are designed to run at high scale and density, and will support execution in a multi-tenant environment, running customized SharePoint workflows.

The new environments consists of 11 SharePoint Servers, two Outlook Web Access servers, and three Microsoft Workflow Manager servers for each environment , “For each environment”? How many environments are there? Please clarify.] Three Microsoft SQL instances are configured to facilitate an “always-on” support requirement for each collaboration environment.

Results & Benefits

The search solution implemented on SharePoint provides users with the ability to quickly search and find relevant information in order to be collaborate effectively with internal and external stakeholders, improve the quality and accuracy of information and content, and ensuring newfound discipline in compliance and security.

Thanks to a technology overhaul which included website redesign and re-platforming on SharePoint, the system has seen a reduction in complaints, an increase in efficiency, and dramatic improvement in employee engagement and collaboration.

The project was completed within nine months.


The new environments built for NBCU contains, 11 SharePoint Servers, two Outlook Web Access servers and three Workflow servers for each environment. Three SQL instances configured on always-on for each environment.

On Premise SharePoint installation, SQL Server Always-On, SkyDrive, Host-named site collections and Apps support in single farm, integration with office web apps.

  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012

To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft SharePoint deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner The Henson Group, please email or call 1.800.980.1130.

Are you a SQL Server professional looking to expand your understanding of SQL Server 2012 data warehousing concepts and implementation? Take this Jump Start, which focuses on the design of Dimensions to support BI in the organization, the implementation of Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) processes, and the implementation of enterprise-level master data and data quality. Watch the live demos to learn about building dimension tables in a data warehouse, implementing an ETL process with control flow and data flow definitions, configuring logging and event handling, deploying an ETL solution, and implementing master data and data quality solutions.

SQL Server 2012 SSRS Caching Q&A

Question 1: While a report is caching, and a user queries a report at the same time, what happens (do they get the old version or does it ask them to wait)?
Answer 1: They see the old version till the new one is made available – assuming the 1st snapshot has already been generated

Question 2: With snapshot, and a user queries a report at the same time, what happens (do they get the old version or does it ask them to wait)?
Answer 2: Same as cache, except cached instance are subject to expiration. If expired, they’ll need to wait.

Question 3: Will a report get cached if no one requests the report?
Answer 3: No, unless you use something like a Data Driven Subscription (DDS) to force it to cache.  Also, be aware that each distinct set of query parms may create a separate cached instance. Obvious size ramifications.  Also, something to be aware of if using a DDS to pre-cache the reports.

For more information and a free consult, please contact Henson Group at or 800-980-1130.