SQL Server 2008 / Katmai June CTP

This week, Microsoft released SQL Server 2008 (Katmai) June CTP at TechEd. The ISO, or extractable zip, are available online at connect, just require registration to download, and are around 800mb in size.

I installed the CTP within a Virtual Machine running Windows 2003 Enterprise SP1.  On my first attempt, I was having a “Error 193” with regard to installing .Net 2.0 Framework.  It sounded like the dvd was having a hard time being read, maybe it was a bad DVDR, so I switched to using the mounted ISO and it installed fine, nothing overly special.  The installation process is very similar to SQL Server 2005 and installed happily under the VM machine.

Microsoft have said they are taking a different approach with their CTP releases for 2008. Instead of having lots of half complete features, they are focusing their efforts a lot more on having end-to-end features/scenarios completed (as much as they can be) and including them within the CTP and leaving out the half done features.  This means when you are trying a new feature, not only should it work, but also be a true presentation of what it will be like within the final release.  The team says its to help focus the feedback and development of the product, so not a repeat of some of the issues with 2005 Beta. The product overview white paper defines their vision for the release.

With the 2008 release, they have identified four key areas for features and improvements:

  • Mission-Critical Platform
  • Dynamic Development
  • Beyond Relational Data
  • Pervasive Business Insight

But what does that all mean?  I have highlighted some of the features from the white paper I think sound useful.

Mission-Critical platform revolves around secure and available data. 2008 includes transparent data encryption where entire databases, data files and log files can be encrypted within the server by simply ‘tagging’ the item.  Another new feature is the Declarative Management Framework which allows policies to be setup for managing the database instead of using scripts.  This sounds like it could solve many problems for companies, as it allows for a policy to span all the servers within the business, or have a policy for each ‘type’ of server, so development would be different to production allowing for a consistent management and server environment.  This should also make life easier for the replicating live servers within a test environment as it would just require the policy to be included/published.

Dynamic Development is based around allowing developers to work at the business entities layer instead of tables and columns, which is the ADO.NET Entity Framework, this isn’t dependent on Katmai but is in the same marketing wave.  There is also improved support for synchronisation of data for those “Occasionally connected systems”, this includes a new SQL Merge statement.

Beyond Relational Data, includes support for a seamless transition between relational and nonrelational data.  By including a new FileStream data type, you can now store BLOBS (Binary Large Object) to be stored in the file system allowing them to be managed by the database, but stored on the file system.  This together with integrated full text search allows for the database to store more kinds of data, for example documents or videos.  Along with this, Microsoft are including Location data support for creating location aware applications. This then can be integrated into Virtual Earth, which could produce some amazing business line applications very quickly and effectively and increase the uptake of business mashups.  This is not included within the June CTP.

Pervasive Business Insight is based around improving the data warehousing technology, together with new reporting functionality.  Two main new reporting features are the ability to author reports directly within Word or Excel and publish them to SharePoint.  The second being that Microsoft have acquired Dundas’s data virtualisation technology and it will be included within 2008. Migration from Dundas to SQL Server 2008 will be ‘seamless’ and you can start working with their components today in preparation. Very cool.

Not sure how long Microsoft have been doing this, but there samples for SQL Server are now on CodePlex – http://www.codeplex.com/MSFTDBProdSamples

Sounds like a very interesting time, lots of different things to look at.  It’s applications like this which are one of the reasons why I enjoy working in the real world, as being a student you really can’t see/understand the benefit as much.

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