Database Consulting Services . . . some plain talk.
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The SQL Server 2008 R2 documentation focuses on the SQL Server Agent account as must being a domain account. However, a “stand alone” Utility Control Point (UCP) can be setup on Window 7 without a domain account. Of course, the UCP will only function for local SQL Server instances but this is sufficient for a learning/test environment.
The snag is when the SQL Server Agent service account is specified in the UCP setup wizard. On a local box, the SQL Server Agent service account is stored in the form “.\ServiceAccount” vice “HostName\ServiceAccount”. This will return an error like this:
The SQL Server Agent service account must be a valid Windows domain account on the specified instance. Validation failed. The operation failed to create a login on the specified instance of SQL Server. Possible reasons include invalid username and password, no permission to create a login, or a policy on the specified instance of SQL Server that prevents login creation. To continue, verify that the specified username and password are correct, then verify that Windows permissions and SQL Server PBM policies allow the specified account to run the Windows CREATE LOGIN operation. The error reported for this operation was:
Windows NT user or group ‘.\SQLServiceAccount’ not found. Check the name again.
For more information, see the Help topic for this operation.
The workaround is to use the option to manually specify an account. My preference is to use the SQL Server Agent service account for everything. By manually specifying the account, it can be input in the correct form, e.g. “HostName\ServiceAccount”.
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Actually, FRB data is, in fact, free.
Background: Test data was needed for another database project and the Federal Reserve Bank is a good source. We didn’t need everything they have. However, it turned out all FRB statistical releases are fairly consistent being distributed on top of the SDMX standard. Since we already built an automated ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) process to download and handle FRB data according to that standard, we figured why not do all of them.
Here are the main reasons FRB_SR is a good value:
1) The FRB website limits downloads in a fashion that is a bit cumbersome and disorganized.
2) The FRB data downloads are not in a readily usable format.
3) The FRB and SDMX folks, being (quasi) government agencies, have a tendency to be a little careless about making “unannounced changes” . . . four times in the last six months . . . which are show stoppers. Adjusting for this is a relatively easy fix for us since it is a simple code change . . . and we are use to it.
)4 ROI . . . FRB_SR is cost effective. Over the past many years we have designed, developed, maintained, debugged and reverse engineered countless data applications and systems . . . based on our experience an organization will spend thousands PER MONTH to built and administer a similar process.
So, the fee is not for the data but for doing the ETL process, packaging it in a real database, and distribution.
The Federal Reserve Bank has established a pattern of introducing quirks to the data or the XML schema. These quirks break down their entire technical approach to their data download service. Fortunately, the sound architecture of FRB_SR greatly aids in compensating. However, traces of the Federal Reserve Bank’s missives still appear in the data. For example, the Federal Reserve Bank added about two dozen series code numbers to the “Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States (Z.1)” statistical release without the code names. Those series code numbers were manually added but the code names were added like “UNKNOWN . . . temp fix for 123456”. When the Federal Reserve Bank gets around to updating the XML schema or publishing the series names, this issue will be corrected.
We designed FRB_SR in a very compact form to facilitate distribution. Like the Federal Reserve Bank, other data providers offer very segmented and limited access to the data. FRB_SR contains every statistical release the Federal Reserve Bank publishes. To make distribution possible, the schema is very simple with only three tables. Seven data views provide a basic breakout and access to the statistical releases and their sub-levels. While the FRB_SR design has performance features, the schema is a more compact data warehouse rather than a high performance database. The initial execution of a view will likely yield slower performance which improves significantly thereafter. We have found this adequate for our development and testing purposes. If you find performance is an issue in your data environment, we recommend extracting the data out to fully optimized data tables. We are currently working on “expansion” scripts to do this.
We publish FRB_SR version updates monthly around the fifteenth for the prior month’s data. Federal Reserve Bank dictates the schedule.