Some See Productivity Boost with SQL Server 2008

Microsoft customers and analysts count compression and other enhancements in SQL Server 2008 as productivity boons.

The release of SQL Server 2008 may be months away, but that hasn't stopped database administrators and developers from keying in on their favorite features.

For Todd Snyder, a database administrator for Cybersavvy.BIZ's software development services, the inclusion of IntelliSense in SQL Server Management Studio and collapsible code functionality are a productivity boon for DBAs.

"[IntelliSense] saves time because instead of having to look at the table schemas to see what fields are in the tables, with the IntelliSense it pops it up for you to choose it. ... [There is] less typing; you don't have to look at it as much," he said. "With the collapsible code, when stored procedures get extremely long you're able to collapse different sections of it down so that you can get an overview of the whole thing without having to scroll through thousands of lines of code."

Focusing on such productivity issues is part of Microsoft's strategy, Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna said.

"Microsoft does not want to roll out another 10,000 new features, but [instead focuses] on ones that will be help improve manageability and value to organizations," he said. "Their strong focus on BI [business intelligence] and EDM [Entity Data Model] is reflective on this position."

A number of analysts also cited SQL Server's policy-based management and compression capabilities as important features. Improvements around policy-based management include policy violation alerts, policy import, the ability to run and evaluate multiple simultaneous policies and evaluate policies when Object Explorer is connected to Analysis Services and Reporting Services.

The technology gives DBAs the ability to manage several databases together with common policies and configurations, and can help lower administration requirements and costs, as well as improve productivity, Yuhanna said.

"All enterprises small or big can benefit from this feature," he said. "I would say this would be the most important feature which all customers would like."

SQL Server 2008 brings both row and page compression to the table for its users. The row compression enables storing fixed length types in variable length storage format. The page compression is built on top of row compression, and minimizes storage of redundant data on the page by storing commonly occurring byte patterns on the page once and then referencing these values for respective columns. The byte pattern recognition is type-independent.

The compression technology will likely make a difference when it comes to data warehousing, as the amount of data enterprises are forced to manage continues to grow, analysts said.

"The data compression will be helpful in stopping customers at the top end of SQL Server's range from migrating to other platforms for data warehousing - though they could add Dataupia underneath SQL Server as an alternative," said Philip Howard, an analyst with Bloor Research. "I know this is a major concern for Microsoft as it is leaking customers in this environment."

Though the database software is not slated to be released to manufacturing until the third quarter, Microsoft officially launched SQL Server 2008 Feb. 27 at an event in conjunction with Visual Studio 2008 and Windows Server 2008. A full-featured version of CTP (Community Technology Preview) of the product was released to customers last week.