Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Microsoft SQL Server 2008, aka "Katmai", gives SQL Server shops plenty of reasons to get excited.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Bottom Line

It's not without its faults, but Microsoft SQL Server 2008 easily passes our own five-point test for upgrades by bringing at least five significant improvements to a data environment. It's a winner.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    TBA (AUD)

Microsoft SQL Server 2008, aka "Katmai", gives SQL Server shops plenty of reasons to get excited. The best SQL Server release to date, it sports more nice new features than you can count, and the improvements extend to both performance and manageability.

In a few cases, such as the Resource Governor, you'll wish Microsoft had taken the functionality a little further. But whether you manage an OLTP environment, or an OLAP environment, or both, you will most likely find Katmai compelling. SQL Server 2008 easily passes our own five-point test for upgrades.

Our five-point test requires a new release to bring at least five significant improvements to our data environment — a large data warehouse — or it's not worth upgrading. Each improvement has to change our life in a significant way, either by dramatically shortening the time to do common tasks or by allowing us to do something we couldn't do before.

These five Katmai features easily pass the test: Change Data Capture, Lookup Cache, Data Compression, PowerShell integration, and Policy-Based Management. And with Microsoft SQL Server 2008, we could easily keep counting.

Change Data Capture and Lookup Cache will be popular with DBAs who want to speed up ETL (Extract, Transformation, and Load) processes, as will the pipeline improvements in Integration Services, enabling Microsoft SQL Server 2008 to push data much faster.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008: faster, sleeker

Data Compression, PowerShell integration, and Policy-Based Management, not to mention Server Groups, should make a big splash in almost any environment. Just keep in mind that the benefits you get from Data Compression (which works at the page level, replacing repeating data with lookup pointers) will depend on the nature of the data in your table and how it's ordered.

Backup Compression is also new in Microsoft SQL Server 2008. Although the compression itself works well, the feature has too many limitations (including supporting only Enterprise Edition) to be effective in an enterprise setting.

Another compression feature, called Sparse Columns, allows you to store nulls without taking up physical space. Sparse Columns will come in handy for large tables containing many null values. It's just too bad you can't use Sparse Columns and Data Compression on the same table.

Policy-Based Management allows you to define almost any configuration or administration policy you might think of for any number of servers, and be alerted whenever those policies are violated. Although spanking new in Katmai, Policy-Based Management already seems mature.

The inclusion of PowerShell will reinvent the way DBAs manage their environments by taking complicated cursors out of management scenarios. This is the debut of PowerShell in SQL Server, and there are some rough spots. But we expect they'll be ironed out soon enough. We've even heard rumours that PowerShell will eventually replace sqlcmd as the command line interface.

Policy-Based Management and PowerShell integration are the biggies, but Management Studio has added some other nice features, such as Server Groups, which allows you to run queries against multiple servers at once. However, we're not fond of the new Activity Monitor. It may be a step in the right direction, but it just isn't useful in its current state.

Another new feature that isn't quite there yet is the ballyhooed Resource Governor. The Resource Governor lets you define limits on CPU and memory usage for certain workloads. This is good enough to prevent some traffic jams — like query processes consuming too many resources on an OLTP server, for example — but it's a far cry from what's needed to define and isolate rogue queries.

In short, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 is a solid release packed with significant improvements. Not all of the new features are fully fleshed out, but some are surprisingly mature and many are extraordinarily useful.

A few will allow DBAs to manage multiple servers as easily as one, and perform certain tasks and operations in a fraction of the time they take today.

Read on for more detail on SQL Server Management Studio and management improvements, Resource Governor, Change Data Capture and non-logged inserts, Data Compression, Backup Compression, index improvements, SQL Server Reporting Services, and SQL Server Integration Services.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?