Microsoft Logo In an effort to make amends for the 5 year development cycle that delayed SQL Server 2005, Microsoft will make the next generation of its flagship database product available on schedule and after only 3, er, short years.With the latest update to Microsoft's flagship DB, the Redmond team is focusing on 5 key business solutions: # Business Intelligence Hoping to make business intelligence less of an oxymoron, SQL Server 2008 aspires to provide a scalable platform that is optimized for data integration, reporting, and analysis. In other words, SQL Server 2008 wants to bring the intelligence contained within an organization's data to the users rather than force an overworked IT staff to constantly extract said intelligence. # Data Warehousing In more good news for the IT staff, SQL Server 2008 plans to provide a data warehousing platform that can be stood up quickly and managed easily. After the data warehouse is available, Microsoft promises an environment that provides rich visualization and collaboration functionality with no sacrifice in performance. # Online Transaction Processing As more and more business tasks move off the desktop and on to a web-based platform, the need to process transactions quickly and reliably has never been greater. SQL Server 2008 looks to meet this need by providing: scalability through the Resource Governor, data management through native XML support, advanced replication capabilities, security through extensive auditing, and centralized monitoring. # Comprehensive Data Programmability In what is a disturbing trend to middleware vendors and developers, enterprise database products are blurring the lines between database and application server. SQL Server 2008 joins this movement by providing what they call a "comprehensive data programmability platform". This platform provides a programming framework, support for web services, and data connectivity technologies. Who needs a three-tier architecture or the abstraction of business logic when you can just embed it all in the database? # Server Consolidation While hardware gets cheaper everyday, the old saying holds true that you get what you pay for. Regardless of Moore's law, an extensive physical architecture is expensive especially in regard to failover and maintenance costs. SQL Server 2008 hopes to alleviate some of these costs by providing a flexible server consolidation solution that provides performance and manageability. In addition, here are some notables from the Top New Features list: * Reduction of storage requirements and increased query performance with data compression and sparse columns * Protection of sensitive data with Transparent Data Encryption of your entire database, data files, or log files -- without the need for application changes * Simplification of regulatory compliance by way of enhanced data auditing abilities * Ability to troubleshoot, tune, and monitor SQL Server 2008 instances with Performance System Analysis * Integration support for location-enabled apps via new spatial data features * Support for the new ADO.NET Entity Framework allows developers to define, query and retrieve ADO business entities natively within any .NET language that supports LINQ If these features have peaked your interest and you have access to community technology previews (CTP) of the product, then you are in luck. The next CTP is slated for this month and should include improvements to the policy management features. For more info, product sheets and superlatives-a-plenty, skip on over to the SQL Server 2008 product site.