I need to state from the outset that this series of articles is not intended to sway anyone into choosing the Apple platform for SSIS development. Nor do I wish to enter into any debate about Apple hardware versus Windows based hardware. Been there, done that and I regularly lose on many fronts.
If you are considering the switch or already have, then hopefully I can save you some time and provide some guidance on how to proceed with tooling up for SSIS (or general Windows) development on this platform.
My reasons for choosing the MacBook Pro and subsequently using it as a Windows / SSIS development platform are simple. I really like it. It’s quality equipment, performs well and reliably and despite a few annoying niggles, its very productive.
So, if you have decided to go down this route, or are considering the switch, then read on.
The iPhone and iPad are driving the enormous growth in Mac sales via the ‘halo’ effect. At the other end of this discussion, Microsoft is absolutely dominating the ETL space with SSIS. If you have arrived at this blog post through a route other than SSIS, ETL means Extract, Transform & Load and SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is Microsoft’s solution.
In a nutshell, ETL is all about moving, consolidating & transforming data to make it more useful and valuable.
I used Windows based PC’s to do my ETL consultancy work (COBOL/SQL) right up until Apple decided to use Intel chips in their hardware platforms. I had always wanted to have a Mac but couldnt justify have two separate platforms. Enter Bootcamp.
Bootcamp allows a Mac OS X user (Tiger 10.4 onwards) to boot their system into Windows. This was a big step forward. I started with a Core 2 Duo, white Macbook with 4gig of RAM. Six years later I am using a 15″ MacBook Pro with 16gig of RAM, a 256gig SSD boot disk with a 750gb 7200rpm Momentus Hybrid hard drive in the DVD drive bay. This is all driven by OS X Lion (10.7) and allows me to run mulitple Windows XP and Windows 7 virtual machines on VMWare Fusion 4.1.1.
I also connect it to an Apple 27“ Thunderbolt display in my home office and to a 24” monitor (via a VGA adaptor) at a client site. The Apple Cinema / Thunderbolt displays are excellent. The resolution and image quality is so good. The Dell monitor is also fine, but not as good quality. However, there is a hefty price difference.
I was using two 24“ Apple Cinema displays connected via a Matrox DualHead2Go graphics device. This was great for parking SSMS in one screen and Visual Studio / BIDS in the other, with a bit of room for email and file explorer near the bottom. However, with the release of the Thunderbolt 27” monitor and its built in Ethernet, Thunderbolt and USB ports, I have gone back to the single, larger monitor. I keep the MBP screen open at the client site, using the 24″ monitor, so I still have a parking area for Mail and file Explorer. The Matrox device works with the new Thunderbolt comms port, but it did bring with it a few issues reviving the external monitor from sleep conditions. Matrox are fairly good with releasing firmware and software updates. I also make heavy use of Spaces, enabling fast switching between Windows 7, Windows XP and OS X Lion.
So thats the platform I have evolved over the last few years.
I think this is superb SSIS development option. As a data architect, communicating ideas, stratagies and plans are as important as the design and build process. This dual OS platform gives me the best of both worlds.
Next installment – Equipment and software list