SQL Server 2005 Queues Up for Prime Time

ORLANDO, Fla. — Microsoft showed some ankle and then some with advanced tools, database and server features in the latest builds of SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006.

Microsoft said all three flagship products are slated to be formally launched the week of Nov. 7.

During the keynote address at the TechEd conference here, Paul Flessner, senior vice president of server applications at Microsoft, helped launch the first public Community Technology Preview (CTP) for SQL Server 2005. He also demonstrated RFID embedding features in Visual Studio 2005.

Loaded with mission-critical features, such as mirroring functions, database snapshots and deeper levels of encryption, the latest version of SQL Server 2005 has Microsoft positioning the database application for a major new role in enterprise data centers, a realm dominated by IBM, Oracle and other major database vendors.

“We think SQL Server is ready for prime time as a top-tier database in major enterprise functions,” said Flessner.

During a demo, Flessner noted new features such as database mirroring, which enables a system administrator to commit data on a main server, as well as a backup server.

High availability is one of the top features Microsoft is deploying in its plan to bring SQL Server 2005 into major enterprises.

“Not only for database failover but for application failover,” Tom Rizzo, a director in the SQL Server division, told internetnews.com. “We made it at commodity pricing that’s easy to implement, simple and at a low cost, so you don’t have to pay for high-availability solutions.”

Also among the security enhancements is native data encryption, which enterprises would normally build for themselves or buy add-ons, Rizzo said. The latest version offers the native data encryption for all customers.

“We think we’re there,” with SQL Server 2005’s high availability features, Flessner said during his address, noting that the database encryption feature goes all the way down to the column manual.

“Certificate management, auditing and authorization features are expanded, too, with an eye on helping companies manage their data in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley,” for example, he added.

Flessner touted the first TPC-H benchmarks for SQL Server 2005 with HP, NEC and Bull.

Conducted during early builds of SQL server 2005, the test yielded up to 162 percent higher performance than SQL Server 2000 and 38 percent higher performance than Oracle’s best result on a 16-processor Intel Itanium 2 server at a cost that is 20 percent less per query, Flessner asserted.

In a scalability benchmark with NEC, SQL Server 2005 bested its prior version, SQL Server 2000, by nearly four-fold.

In addition, reporting services, which were only available in standard or enterprise editions, are now available in SQL Server 2005 all the way down to express editions, said Rizzo.

The report builder client, which had been only available in its enterprise edition, is now moving to standard and workgroup versions, as well. The version also includes a kind of flight recorder that helps the database administrator peek into the system and check errors or sluggish strings without having to take the system down.

Among the new features in Visual Studio 2005 are RFID smart tags functions that help integrate smart tags into applications.

Flessner said the RFID tags are built on top of the .NET Framework and can be embedded within third-party applications or used on its own to capture and interpret data from sensors and manage business events.

In addition, Visual Studio 2005 includes integration and run-time features that help developers cut down on the amount of code they have to write.

“It used to be you had to decide when you design an application where the code is going to run,” Flessner said. With SQL Server 2005 and integrated features in Visual Studio 2005, you can decide where that code is going to run at runtime, not design time.

“It’s a very powerful, flexible environment,” he said, noting that the BizTalk rules engine allows developers to easily integrate with Visual Studio in order to help deploy applications more quickly.

“This is the most comprehensive product we’ve ever shipped,” he said of the three flagship products.

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