What about the SA
program?"> The downside of delays with major new releases is that they skewer customers long-term, strategic decisions, Burton said. "Microsofts big challenge is resetting expectations of partners, who are trying to make strategic decisions today based on the date of the Yukon release," she said. Another problem Microsoft will have to face is responding to customers who bought into Software Assurance agreements with the primary goal of receiving upgrades in return for their money, Burton pointed out. "When the Software Assurance agreements first came out, the reason people bought them was to get the upgrades," she said. "Our advice for people who bought [into a Software Assurance agreement] for upgrades is that they need to negotiate. We do believe that a certain percentage [of SQL Server customers] will not renew their SA agreements because there are no upgrades." Microsofts Rizzo defended the SA program by pointing out that it encompasses far more than software upgrades. "You have to go back to the beginning of the Software Assurance program and what the programs all about," he said. "Its about building and providing a long-term, ongoing relationship with our customers and partners. And it is more than just product upgrades. We dont view it in this tunnel-vision way. Its about providing real business value that helps reduce costs for customers and has value-added services with things like support, training, deployment tools, employee discounts on software and extended warrantees."Next page: Whither support for SQL Server 7 and SQL Server 2000?
Still, as noted by Chris Alliegro, an analyst for Directions on Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., anybody who bought into a three-year upgrade-rights program should be getting nervous as the time nears when these programs will lapse. Another sore spot for users: What will Microsoft do with regard to continued support of SQL Server 7 and SQL Server 2000? Mainstream support for both is scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2005, Alliegro noted. "That doesnt give you a lot of time to upgrade [to Yukon]," he said.