Getting Started with Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

January 20, 2017

This post lists everything you need to get started with Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).

All resources listed are free, without time restrictions, at least for personal use. This means you can use them to learn, but you may want to check the license terms in more detail in case you want to provide commercial services or solutions.

Software

Required:

  1. SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT)

Optional, but advisable:

  1. Visual Studio Community 2015 (or, if you already have a license, one of the non-free editions)
  2. SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)

Visual Studio and SSDT are used to develop Integration Services packages; SSMS is used to manage those packages in development and production databases.

Visual Studio is optional but advisable:

If you don't have Visual Studio installed on your machine, installing SSDT will also install a minimal "Integrated Shell" version of Visual Studio 2015. If you do have Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition (or above) installed on your machine, installing SSDT will add the full set of SQL Server tools into your existing Visual Studio installation. Visual Studio includes many features you might want to use, such as Source Code Control integration and non-SQL language support.

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is also not required but can help if you rely heavily on SQL Server(*) and want to manage the development environment in the same a production environment would be.

(*) Note that although SSIS is a SQL Server component it does not mandate the use of a database as source or destination, in fact you can develop SSIS packages that use alternative data sources and destinations, like web services or files, exclusively.

Installation

Install the software in the following order:

  1. Visual Studio (optional);
  2. SSDT (mandatory);
  3. SSMS (optional).

Documentation

With all requirements installed it's time to start learning.

You may want to start with the official MSDN documentation and tutorials:

Or search the web for the hundreds of tutorials on the subject.

Free On-Line Video Training

Another option is to start with some free video courses. Some suggestions:

Youtube:

Pluralsight(*):

(*) Pluralsight is a paid service but you can get a free 3-month subscription by registering at Visual Studio Dev Essentials. No credit card required!

Be aware that the versions used on the videos above don't exactly match the product versions to which I linked in the "Software" section. Nevertheless the base concepts are the same and these tutorials are a good way to get an overall view of how the tools operate and of what can be done with them.

Sample Data

Don't forget that passive learning is not enough, active practice is essential, so choose a sample ETL project and start practicing.

Depending on what you want to achieve, here are two suggestions of data you can use to get started: