Many of those putting Microsoft's new database into use say they don't mind long waits for updates if it means a reliable product.
After a number of delays and false starts over the last several years, Microsoft Corp. this week announced the general availability of its SQL Server 2005 database.
Some customers privy to an early kick of the tires on the refashioned database say the product is a major leap forward in terms of enhanced business intelligence tools, application development integration, and management visibility from its previous SQL Server 2000 incarnation.
With the extra time afforded to its engineers, product developers and end users to compare and work various kinks out of SQL Server 2005, Microsoft made sure the product featured improved "enterprise readiness" capabilities such as table partitioning, extended online operations and vastly beefed up online diagnostics, said Paul Flessner, senior vice-president for SQL Server at Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash.
Flessner said the new database is designed to offer significant data management visibility, allowing users to more easily examine current activities inside the server than prior versions.
Built with strong ties to Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and with the application developer in mind, SQL Server 2005 gives developers the ability to have language-independent code run outside or inside of the database. That will allow developers to write code in whatever language theyre comfortable with, to be decided at run-time and performance tuning.
"We think the database is a technology that is too complicated. We can make it much simpler in terms of auto-tuning, and we can do more to make the database developer more productive," Flessner said.
"Theres a host of things we did in this area, and extending enterprise abilities in our mind pushed the product to the next level and toward most mission-critical applications. The last bastion for IBM and Oracle [Corp.] in terms of their market has been that Tier One application, and I think [SQL Server] 2005 pushes us inside that space."
SQL Server 2005 may tempt many to switch platforms. Click here to read more.
Currently running SQL Server 2005 and taking advantage of its new 64-bit support, Kirk Pothos, software development manager for Xerox Corp., based in Rochester, N.Y., said the new database server has made leaps and bounds in terms of its management tools in areas such as online indexing, tuning wizards and best practices.
For example, Pothos said he is seeing some of his organizations intensive queries run anywhere from 25 to 45 percent faster, which was a big surprise for him. In addition to the unexpected performance boost, Pothos said SQL Server 2005s native encryption has removed security worries from the minds of developers. But the biggest improvement, he said, is with Microsofts Report Builder functionality.
"Customers are always asking for different cuts and slices of the data. We dont have to have a DBA everywhere in the world; analysts can use Report Builder to slice some of those things in a cost effective manager. Thats one area where Microsoft has really done a good job: Reporting is great but the building tool is fantastic," Pothos said.
Xerox is primarily using SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition to power its XOS (Xerox Office Services) solution. The service, which can be hosted if the customer chooses, manages a Xerox customers printing operation globally, including supply replenishment and deployment, and necessary technology support is available. The XOS application is built on the Microsoft Visual Studio.NET platform.
Read details here about what developers have planned for the SQL Server 2005 upgrades.
Interestingly, Xerox is also actively migrating to Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express, a downsized version of the database, for its branch-based customers. Pothos said the diminutive SQL Server tool is a perfect and cheap fit to help remote branch office customers, in terms of linking and managing printing operations with a centralized enterprise.
"We feel that SQL Server 2005 gives us a lot more headroom in terms of new features," Pothos said. "Xerox leads with technology. We didnt want simply a better SQL Server 2000. If they were only going to release a better version, that was not compelling for us. When we pick a platform we understand customers are very demanding and want new services. We needed headroom to grow and SQL Server will provide that for us."
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Brian Fonseca is a senior writer at eWEEK who covers database, data management and storage management software, as well as storage hardware. He works out of eWEEK's Woburn, Mass., office. Prior to joining eWEEK, Brian spent four years at InfoWorld as the publication's security reporter. He also covered services, and systems management. Before becoming an IT journalist, Brian worked as a beat reporter for The Herald News in Fall River, Mass., and cut his teeth in the news business as a sports and news producer for Channel 12-WPRI/Fox 64-WNAC in Providence, RI. Brian holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.