Service Pack 2 for SQL Server 2012 Released
Also coming are reporting tools and other features.
SQL Server isn't on the kind of update schedule that characterizes Visual Studio these days, when it's unusual for two months to go by without some sort of release. But one version is getting a new service pack and some other goodies.
For developers and admins not on the latest product, Microsoft released SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 2 this week.
The SP2 release goes by the "RTM" (release to manufacturing) nomenclature, according to Microsoft's announcement. That's an old-fashioned Microsoft term suggesting that the software is ready for imaging on hardware by equipment providers -- in other words, a commercial-ready release.
SQL Server 2012 SP2 can be downloaded here, but it will arrive via the Microsoft Update service by the end of July.
Microsoft is offering SP2 in 32-bit and 64-bit versions for SQL Server 2012, as well as the Management Studio and Express versions. Also released this week are SQL Server 2012 SP2 Report Builder, which supports report publishing and data visualizations, and SQL Server 2012 SP2 Feature Pack, which provides the latest tools and add-ons for Microsoft's relational database management system.
SQL Server 2012 SP2 contains updates based on customer feedback since the last service pack and since the release of Cumulative Update 9. Microsoft added some supportability and functionality fixes to AlwaysOn, which is its high-availability and disaster recovery capability in SQL Server 2012. Analysis services, the Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) tool in the product, got local cube creation support with SP2. Integration Services, the data integration capability in the product, got a fix for a deadlock issue. Microsoft added some performance fixes to the product's relational engine and storage engine. Reporting Services now warns if a large HTML report will cause a performance hit.
Microsoft notes the highlights of the SP2 release in this blog post. A list of all of the fixes in SP2 can be found in this Microsoft support article.
Microsoft had given advance notice that SP2 was coming back in February, although it didn't say when it would arrive. Contrary to press accounts, Microsoft still issues service packs for its enterprise-level software products, even though the company has moved to a faster, and less predictable, software release cycle.
Service packs tend to get downplayed by Microsoft these days. For instance, on the Exchange side, service packs are described by Microsoft as if they were just another cumulative update. Organizations, however, still likely look to service pack releases as key moments to catch up and deploy Microsoft's software updates all in a bundle.
Microsoft's announcement did let it be known that the company plans to release the next cumulative update to SQL Server 2012 SP2 by "the end of July 2014." So that gives IT organizations a little more than a month to deploy SP2 if they want to keep pace with Microsoft's cumulative update release schedule.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.