Microsoft on April 19 introduced Service Pack 1 for SQL Server 2005, the servers first major update since its launch Nov. 7, 2005. SP1 encompasses several new features besides database mirroring, including SQL Server Management Studio Express and additional, flexible options for independent software vendors.
The SP1 release is the first result of a new SQL Server "customer-collaboration model" Microsoft has instituted, which uses customer feedback as the company formulates feature and security updates.
Key new features include the production-ready version of database mirroring, in which the primary production server is mirrored at all times by a standby server. "This allows for automated, seamless failover between primary and standby server, if the primary server needs to come down," SQL Server Senior Product Manager Carol Dullmeyer told eWEEK. "Its a really critical feature."
SP1 also includes the new SQL Server Management Studio Express. This express management tool offers management dialogs, graphical designers for databases, tables, views and queries, and graphical query execution plan display, all delivered in user interfaces that are now seamless across SQL Server management tool offerings.
"We understood [through the customer-collaboration model] that for customers theres great benefit of continuity across SQL Server for [using] management tools," Dullmeyer said. "We reshaped the plans a bit and delivered something tailored for the Express community. Before, there wasnt continuity. Part of our business is providing support for the breadth of customers we have, [so we need] a complete, rich data platform. If you have a certain experience using Express management tools, one of your partners might use another rendition [of the server tools]. So now its the same experience: similar interfaces and tools."
SP1 also entails a new, second option for Express users that will enable them to download lightweight or full-force versions. Thus, customers can choose between the standard Express download or one that includes Reporting Services and Full-text Search.
"Within the Express community, there are distinct needs for how customers and partners might use technology," Dullmeyer said. "For example, an ISV might want to put a trial application on CD; their priority is a very compact, lightweight footprint that can fit on a CD. In another scenario, an ISV is building an application with SQL Server Express, but they have other applications [separately] in a portfolio. And they also want continuity: reporting services, full-text search, other features like that. So the Express customer has the ability to use some advanced technology [as needed]."
SP1 also has increased SAP business intelligence support. "Forty percent of new SAP deployments are using SQL Server, and 60 percent are also using Windows," Dullmeyer said. Two new components in SP1—a Microsoft .Net provider for SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence and a new MDX Query Designer—make SQL Server Reporting Services better equipped to support SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence. This enables all SAP customers to use enterprise reporting provided by SQL Server.
"All these updates tie back to our vision of end-to-end business insight—whether its small-business projects leveraging Express up to mission-critical solutions—including SAP solutions," Dullmeyer said.
Earlier in April, Paul Flessner, senior vice president of the Data and Storage Platforms Division at Microsoft, outlined the companys new data platform vision, titled "Your Data, Any Time, Any Place."
This strategy includes investments in four core areas: Continuous Availability and Automation, including the announcement of SQL Server Always On Technologies; End-To-End Business Insight, enabling better business decisions; Dynamic Applications, delivering higher developer productivity and support for occasionally connected applications; and Beyond Relational, with support for current and emerging data types.
Flessner also detailed the upcoming SQL Server Everywhere Edition, a new offering for a local store on clients of all types, which will provide a lightweight, compact subset of the capabilities found in other SQL Server editions. The first CTP is expected this summer, with the full release to manufacturing by the end of 2006.
The SP1 (252.7MB to 909.4MB, depending upon which components are selected) can be downloaded here.