After months of waiting it has finally arrived on our doorstep. Microsoft was whispering sweet nothings about the next release of SQL Server since late September last year. It has now arrived -- and if you are wondering what's so special about the newest version, well, we've got the skinny for you.
Features by Category
SQL Server 2008 has been designed to be a database administrators dream. Many of the features that currently exist in SQL Server 2005 are still there, but enhanced to make administration even that much easier.
New Management Features
There are a number of new management features including policy management, multiple server query capability, configuration, and a data collector/management warehouse.
* Policy Management: You can now create and manage configuration policies against one or more database servers.
* Configuration Servers: You can register any number of database servers in your Management Studio and execute queries against any number of them at the same time. Group them in the Studio in the manner you need to manage them.
* Data Collector: The new Data Collector replaces the need for third-party or custom built solutions to collect and store management related data. You use the SQL Server Agent and SQL Server Integration Services to create a framework to collect and store your data.
All of these new features go a long way to manage your environment, especially in an enterprise where there are a large number of database servers to be supported. The fact that you can clear out some of those third party tools that weren't quite doing the job should be a good thing as well.
* Built-in Compression: SQL Server 2005 introduced compression on a read-only file or filegroup, SQL Server 2008 introduces compression at both the row-level and page-level. You can compress both the database files and the transaction log files associated with that database. What this means is that there is an increase in memory utilization on the server.
* Compression on Backups: SQL Server 2008 also introduces compression at the backup level thus creating more space for real-time databases.
* Resource Governor: A new feature that enables a DBA to define the amount of resources that can be applied to workloads. This allows you to assign different resource levels based on workload types.
* Table Partitioning & Locking: Performance improvements are made through better management of table partitions and locking mechanisms. The SQL Server engine can escalate locks to the partition level which is supposed to reduce the performance effects that locking usually introduces.
* New Query Processor Improvements: These improvements are designed to improve how a query interacts with partitioned tables by working with the Partition ID.
* Database Mirroring: Improvements to the mirroring process that came with SQL Server 2005 includes compressing log file information before transferring it to the mirrored server, repairing corrupted data pages on the principal via a transparent and automated function.
* Hot Add CPU: If you are running the right type of server, you have this feature called Hot Add CPU that enables you to add new CPUs to a server without having to take the server down.
* Extensible Key Management: An enhanced structure to store encryption keys in the database or in third-party modules.
* Transparent Data Encryption: Encryption of data now becomes a property of the database and not just something done within code.
Along with all the new administration features for DBAs, developers are getting some improvements as well:
* LINQ to SQL provider: Allows developers to issue LINQ commands directly against SQL Server tables and columns
* ADO.NET Entity Framework: Allows developers to create database queries using entities which are higher-level objects that map to individual database tables and columns.
* T-SQL: A number of enhancements to T-SQL
* Datatime Data Type: The separation of time and date data from the datetime data type
* Spatial Datatypes: A couple of new spatial data types: GEOGRAPHY and GEOMETRY
* FILESTREAM datatype: The new FILESTREAM data type which allows files to be stored outside of the database, still considered part of the database for transactional consistency.
* Sparse Columns: Introduction of Sparse Columns which are columns that contain a NULL value. NULL data consumes no physical space, providing a highly efficient way of managing empty data in a database.
* Enterprise Reporting Engine: Improvements to deployment and configuration of reports
* Internet Report Deployment: Deploy reports over the Internet to customers and suppliers
* Report Builder Enhancements: Build ad-hoc or author reports using the Report Designer
* Microsoft Office Integration: Consume reports directly in Microsoft Word and an enhanced Excel renderer
There are lots of other improvements and enhancements to SQL Server 2008 which you can read all about on Microsoft's SQL Server 2008 website.
Get Your Evaluation Copy
As is the norm with Microsoft, there are a number of different versions of SQL Server 2008 in addition to the usual Standard and Enterprise Editions:
* Compact: Primarily for mobile apps
* Express: Replacing the familiar MSDE
* Web: A low-cost option for Web hosts
* Developer: For development and testing purposes
* Workgroup: For branch location databases needed for reporting and data management
Get your evaluation copy of SQL Server 2008 and take a few tutorials to make you really understand the improvements.
All in all, the improvements and enhancements sound promising for both DBAs and Database developers. Enhancements that should improve the quality of the applications builds and the environments managed for an organization.