Second SQL Server 2008 CTP Released

Boasts several new features for testers to evaluate.

Microsoft has unleashed the second community technology preview (CTP) of SQL Server 2008, and while it boasts several new features for testers to evaluate, other sought-after capabilities -- notably simplified policy management and support for geospatial mapping -- didn't make the cut.

The company had hoped to release an improved iteration of the policy-management feature, which is called the Declarative Management Framework (DMF). But at the eleventh hour, Microsoft felt it should fine-tune the coding, and ultimately determined it would make sense to hold it for the next slated CTP in September, says Francois Ajenstat, director of product management for Microsoft's SQL Server.

"It works right now, we're just going to be putting the polish on it," Ajenstat says. "We're making sure it's usable, that the features are discoverable, and that the end users are using it as intended. That's what's planned for the next CTP."

Microsoft is promising to release new CTPs every 60 days. But Ajenstat cautioned that while all feedback is monitored, it takes time to make certain repairs and testers might not see certain fixes for several CTP cycles.

What's New
The latest CTP's new features include charting capabilities for the reporting-services component of the database, based on technology Microsoft acquired from Toronto-based Dundas Data Visualization Inc. Microsoft will be able to offer charting capabilities natively within Reporting Services. Testers will be able to start experimenting with advanced report layouts, Ajenstat says.

New in SQL Server
2008 CTP 2
  • Charting: Natively adds charts to the reporting-services component of the database
  • Automatic Page Repair: Constantly monitors consistency of primary and mirrored database
  • Extended Events: Tracks SQL Server but also has access to OS
  • Date and Time: Can more easily correlate and work with data in multiple time zones
Another improvement in CTP 2 is based around high availability through database mirroring, including automatic page repair and log-stream compression.

With automatic page repair, software is designed to constantly monitor the consistency of both the primary and mirrored database. With log-stream compression, as the term implies, the log streams are compressed through those mirrors to conserve bandwidth for more mission-critical data.

In addition, the new CTP features Extended Events, or "X Events." This monitoring capability not only tracks SQL Server but also has access to the operating system and can report events within that same environment, allowing a DBA to check an OS log file, for example, to determine whether a problem resulted from the system.

The CTP also adds date-time support, a feature Microsoft has talked up for a while. It essentially enables companies that operate in multiple locations to more easily correlate and work with data in multiple time zones.

Geospatial Capabilities
Kent Tegels, database curriculum lead at Los Angeles-based DevelopMento who tested the first CTP, says it was "a good down payment." Tegels, whose company provides database development training, is a Microsoft MVP and is participating in the CTP program. He had hoped to see Microsoft include the planned new support for geospatial data in the second CTP, but that likely won't happen for a few more releases, according to Ajenstat.

The geospatial effort is focused around three areas. The first is data types-one focused on geometry and geodata, which respectively work on the premise that the world is flat versus round. The second area of focus concerns indexing. Microsoft is working to ensure users can query geospatial data at high levels of performance.

The third area involves integration with Microsoft's Virtual Earth, which provides visual representations of the world. Microsoft will at some point provide a software development kit that integrates with Virtual Earth, according to Ajenstat.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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