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.

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  • Price

    TBA (AUD)

Microsoft SQL Server 2008: improved management

If there's any one new feature in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 that will change the way DBAs manage their environments, it's probably Server Groups.

Server groups let you run any query you like against an entire group of servers simultaneously. So instead of having to cycle through all of your servers to check job status, deploy stored procedures, and so on, you can manage or push code to any number of servers with a single query.

On top of that, Server Groups can be further extended and enhanced to do some great things. It does take a paradigm shift, however. DBAs will have to start thinking in terms of groups instead of single servers.

SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio) also has much better object-level stats than ever before. This is a perfectly executed feature, and we love it. In the object details pane, you can now click on an object folder and get info for all objects in that folder. For example, click the Databases folder to immediately see the key info on all the databases on the server, including size, space used, owner, index space used, and many more.

This is an incredibly useful list because you can sort it and reorder the columns and your customisations persist. You can get detailed info on all of your tables too. In this new detail view, you can see row count, data and index usage, schema, and so on. Not only is it very easy to view object-level stats, but this level of info is available for all folders, not just databases and tables. This is one feature that we wouldn't change in any way.

One of the most important features included in this release is PowerShell. PowerShell is going to change how DBAs manage their environment, because it allows you to do complicated things so much easier than in Visual Basic or T-SQL.

Let's take an example of scripting databases. You can script a database pretty easily in SSMS, but you can't schedule it. Until now, if you want to schedule a script or code the scripting process to perform the exact same options every time without having to click through the wizard or worry about making mistakes, all you could do was code a solution in VB and compile it. But not everyone has VB skills, and writing SMO (SQL Server Management Objects) is neither easy nor intuitive.

PowerShell allows you to script a database in just 21 characters of code and schedule it inside an agent job. You don't have to compile it, so you don't have to keep up with separate source code. PowerShell also makes it a lot easier to work with multiple objects — and multiple servers — in SQL Server.

Another good example is adding user permissions to all the schemas in a database. You can code this in T-SQL, but T-SQL requires the inclusion of unsafe dynamic SQL code inside a cursor. You can accomplish the same thing in PowerShell with just a couple of lines of code, and without introducing any unsafe constructs into your environment.

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