Microsoft Inches Closer To Launching SQL Server 2008


Microsoft earlier this month pushed back the launch timeframe for SQL Server 2008 from the first half to Q3, and plans to roll out a release candidate sometime in Q2. Microsoft no longer uses the term "beta test" for SQL Server, and instead has offered a series of relatively fast-turnaround CTPs, the most recent of which it launched in November.

With the February CTP, Microsoft fulfills the pledge it made earlier this month to release a 'feature complete' CTP before its gala tripartite Feb. 27 launch extravaganza, which will also showcase the RTM of Windows Server 2008 as well as general celebration around Visual Studio 2008, which RTMed in November.

The latest SQL Server 2008 CTP includes performance boosts in the form of beefed up data compression capabilities and integrated full text search. Microsoft has also made a number of improvements to SQL Server 2008's policy based management features, including policy violation alerts, policy import, and the ability to run and evaluate multiple simultaneous policies.

SQL Server 2005 represented a "major leap" from SQL Server 2000, says Robert Williams, principal at Williams Web Solutions, Kingsville, Texas. He expects the feature improvements in SQL Server 2008 to have a similar impact. "We're most excited about the enhanced security and overall ease of use," Williams said.

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But despite the new features in SQL Server 2008, some solution providers say it could be a while before their customers are ready to upgrade from older versions of the database.

"We haven't had anyone ask us about SQL Server 2008, because in all honesty, we have a lot of clients who are still using Microsoft accounting packages that use a SQL backend, and they're all still on SQL Server 2000," said Philip Cardone, a technology services consultant at KDSA Consulting, an Andover, Mass.-based solution provider.