Microsoft Updates SQL Server Update Plan

On April 16, Microsoft plans to begin the first cumulative update that will roll up all of the relevant database fixes and updates. These "cumulative updates" will be provided every two months.

"We wanted to do a new servicing model to create cumulative updates every two months. They're more predictable for customers, who can then preselect production dates," said Kim Colley, product manager for SQL Server at Microsoft, Redmond, Wash.

Currently, hot fixes and patch delivery are more sporadic. "There might be a release one week but then not another for three weeks," Colley said.

Microsoft continue to address any urgent issues as needed, she added. Critical issues may require "On Demand" hot fixes when no suitable workaround is available. In those cases, the fixes may be released by meeting the "On-Demand" bar Microsoft has set.

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SQL Server customers will now receive automatic notifications when the newest Cumulative Updates become available. In order to elect for the update, customers should visit the Microsoft Support Page at

Colley said the move was made in response to customer input. The plan was communicated to customers starting Thursday.

Having predictability and planning time is particularly important in the database world, according to VARs.

"If you have SQL Server, it needs to be up 24x7. At best, you need to have scheduled downtime, and this should facilitate that," said Frank Cullen, principal at BlackstoneCullen, an Atlanta-based SQL Server solution provider.

Microsoft will still release database service packs as needed.

Database leader Oracle typically releases fewer, but more scheduled, patch and fix updates than Microsoft. It tends to release one security patch update per quarter, but can also release patchs off-schedule as needed. Likewise, for DB2, IBM puts out combined fix packs once per quarter, with individual fixes as needed when identified.