Microsoft releases SQL Server betas

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Summit announced it has released beta 2 of its planned SQL Server 2000 64-bit database as well as a beta of a service pack for the existing SQL Server 2000 database.

The new SQL Server 64-bit beta release includes optimization for the Intel Itanium 2 chip and performance improvements, according to Microsoft. The 64-bit version of SQL Server is intended to support memory-intensive and performance-critical applications and will scale to large e-commerce Web sites that have a potentially unbounded number of users and a high volume of user transactions, the company said. This latest version also is intended for large data warehousing and analysis applications and line-of-business applications with a high OLTP workload.

The forthcoming SQL Server will reach the released-to-manufacturing stage, a precursor to general public availability, in a few months and be generally available in April 2003 with the launch of the Windows .Net Server 2003 64-bit operating system.

The 64-bit database will scale to 512GB of RAM and support as many as 64 CPUs. By comparison, the current SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition database scales to just 64GB of RAM and as many as 64 CPUs.

“In our beta 1 program, we’re seeing our customers really start to use [the 64-bit database] for big data warehousing projects,” because of the extra memory available, said Sheryl Tullis product manager for SQL Server, in Redmond, Wash.

The company also released details of SQL Server Service Pack 3 beta 1 for the existing 32-bit SQL Server 2000 database. In addition to all the fixes in the first two service packs, the new service pack features analysis services including remote partitions support to boost scalability and support for third-party data mining algorithms.

The SQL Server Agent logging feature, for logging transactions, is improved via the service pack, as are replication performance and reliability.

In the area of serviceability, SQL Server can be configured to have critical errors automatically sent to Microsoft. A new monitoring API allows DBAs or third-party tools to diagnose problem processes.

“If you have processes that could be blocking another process, you could do some analysis on that,” Tullis said.

Multiserver administration also is improved.

To enhance security, the service pack features updated online books to provide customers with more guidance on security. Patches are included for known vulnerabilities.

Additionally, SQL Server Agent can be run in a non-administrator fashion. The agent can trigger alerts if an abnormal process is happening.

Users interested in the two beta programs can log onto Microsoft’s Web site at to express an interest in participating.