Earlier this month, Microsoft released the third (and what appears to be the final) Community Technology Preview (CTP) version of SQL Server 2008 before it ships to stores. This CTP includes many of the technology improvements that were slated for SQL Server 2008.

In a previous article, I looked at a handful of new features included in SQL Server 2008. Most of the features mentioned in that article were included in the initial CTP for SQL Server 2008.

The November CTP offers many new features, including enhancements to Reporting Services, Integration Services, and Analysis Services. The CTP also includes: Service Broker enhancements; data backup compression; built-in functionality for tracking data changes; resource governor functionality; XQuery improvements; Geospatial support; and the ability to store large BLOBs of data to the NTFS file system. Here are more details about three of these enhancements:

  • Service Broker enhancements
    One of my favorite features in SQL Server 2005 is Service Broker; it allows you to build loosely coupled database applications that exchange data through messages. This allows you to send a message, and be guaranteed that the message will reach its recipient, or you get the message back.
    SQL Server 2008 includes the ability to set priority for the processing of these message-based conversations. It also comes with a diagnostic utility to analyze the configurations between Service Broker services to indicate potential problems.
  • Data backup compression
    The bigger that databases get the more space is required on disk for backups. Restoring a large database file can be time consuming and nerve racking. Third-party applications usually do a good job of compressing these backups; however, with the backup compression included in SQL Server 2008, less disk storage is needed for storing backup files. In addition, backup time is decreased because there is less I/O involved in the backup process.
  • Track data changes
    The ability to track when data changes is extremely important for many types of applications. This type of data tracking typically involves using DML triggers to write altered data to an auditing table. SQL Server 2008 includes the ability to track these data changes without requiring the developer to design the DML triggers to do so.

For tips on administering and developing SQL Server applications, I highly recommend downloading SQL Server 2008 Books Online Community Technology Preview.

Is it too soon for a new release of SQL Server?

SQL Server 2008 is enticing for database developers because of all of the new features.  However, SQL Server 2005 hasn’t been around along enough to be totally adopted by the public.

Microsoft’s current plan is to release a new database every three years. My fear is that this release cycle may turn some companies off from the product.

I’d love to hear what you think. Has your organization migrated to SQL Server 2005 yet? Are you even considering moving to SQL Server 2008 right when it comes out? Please post your experiences and thoughts about Microsoft’s database release cycle in the article discussion.

Tim Chapman a SQL Server database administrator and consultant who works for a bank in Louisville, KY. Tim has more than eight years of IT experience, and he is a Microsoft certified Database Developer and Administrator. If you would like to contact Tim, please e-mail him at chapman.tim@gmail.com.