Microsoft takes wraps off SQL Server 2008

With Wednesday’s release of its latest database software package, Microsoft Corp. is trying to cater to companies looking for interoperability, Canadian analysts say.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant has released SQL Server 2008 to manufacturing, and the software is available on both Technet and the Microsoft Developer Network, company officials said Wednesday.

“Some people are asking, ‘Why in world would I upgrade to 2008’” from SQL Server 2005, said Dan Jones, group program manager for Microsoft’s manageability team.

On a media conference call, Jones listed his Top 10 reasons to upgrade, and No. 8 was the integration services.

“With this feature, we extended connectivity to heterogeneous data sources like Oracle, Teradata and SAP Netweaver,” Jones said.

“Microsoft continues to demonstrate that it’s really buying into this co-opetition model as opposed to trying to freeze other people out,” said Vince Londini, research analyst with the London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group.

Kevin Restivo, senior analyst for software research at Toronto-based IDC Canada, said his firm’s research shows companies are most concerned with application integration, when considering a database purchase.

“The majority of corporate buyers first and foremost want to see how the database, be it SQL or any other kind of database, integrates with other applications being used in the business,” he said. “That plug and play status has been the nirvana for companies. Businesses are complex places and it’s been a goal that’s been difficult to achieve in the past.”

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Other data integration features of SQL Server 2008 include partitioned table parallelism, which is said to let users manage large tables by breaking them into manageable blocks of data.

Microsoft is also touting new security features in SQL Server 2008, which lets administrators encrypt entire databases, files or log files.

The No. 2 reason cited by Jones was the ability to enforce policy compliance consistently. Having a policy-based management engine is one way to simplify security and access management, Londini said. “If you can simplify that, then it’s more likely to be more secure for the administrator,” Londini said.

“Being able to apply more policies across the entire SQL deployment through the policy-based engine is definitely an improvement.” But technology alone doesn’t make you more secure, Londini added.

“Security comes down to the development and actualization of secure processes, and really most security falls not in the feature sets of the products barring some programming error that needs to be patched, but in the management,” he said.

The top reason for upgrading, Jones said, is the new resource governor, which is designed to manage workloads by controlling CPU and memory utilization.

The No. 6 reason was the reporting services, with improved integration with Office 2007.

Jones said the report builder in SQL Server 2008 lets information workers to build reports, and has new options to view data with gauges and charts. It also lets users access reports directly from Microsoft Word.

SQL Server 2008 also includes more mirroring features. New to version 2008 is log stream compression, which is intended to reduce bandwidth used during mirroring. Microsoft is offering more mirroring features, including automatic page repair and automated recovery of data when there are page errors.

The pricing for SQL Server 2008 will be the same as that of 2005. Pricing varies by configuration, and the enterprise edition, when sold by processor, costs US$25,000.

SQL Server 2008 has Express and Compact editions were available for free download Wednesday. It is also available in Enterprise, Standard, Workgroup, Web, Developer editions.