Insights from the SQL Server industry
Create Effective Database Designs
Storing data in a database is one thing, but effectively retrieving and using that data is another. Poorly designed databases can leave you ill equipped to implement database applications. Embarcadero (http://www.embarcadero.com) ER/Studio 7.0 helps database professionals create effective database designs through visual and navigable model diagrams.
The latest ER/Studio release contains improved model-management capabilities, more support for data-warehousing and integration, and new capacity-planning and security-modeling capabilities. ER/Studio 7.0 eases managing enterprise-scale models by consolidating disparate models into one global model, enforcing data standards, and using sharable and tiered elements. Data integration and warehousing are simpler because ER/Studio 7.0 can track multiple stages of data lineage throughout online transaction processing (OLTP) systems, enterprise data warehouses, and data marts. Finally, the modeler can transfer access roles and growth predictions into the physical model for complete security and capacity planning.
Coupling AMD64 and SQL Server 2005
The release of SQL Server 2005 has sparked interest in the broader adoption of SQL Server in the enterprise market. Hardware, of course, is an important underlying factor in such an adoption. I recently spoke with Margaret Lewis, AMD's (http://www.amd.com) commercial software strategist, about the AMD64 platform and what it offers SQL Server 2005. AMD64 includes Integrated Memory Controller and Hyper-Transport technology, which delivers fast data-access and high-speed I/O capabilities. 64-bit capabilities break the 4GB memory barrier of 32-bit computing, so data processes faster and applications run more efficiently. In addition, AMD PowerNow! technology lowers energy costs in AMD-powered notebooks by reducing power consumption as much as 60 percent without compromising performance or system capabilities.
I was interested to learn about AMD performance benchmarks. The dual-core AMD Opteron processors have set records for performance in the 2-processor x86 and 4-processor x86 server categories. The AMD64 platform's improved processing speed and power can help you get the most out of SQL Server 2005's data-managing capability.
Visualize Databases with Visual Defrag
Norb Technologies (http://www.norbtechnologies.com/products.asp) recently introduced us to its latest software offering, Visual Defrag. The tool is the first available visual database-defragmentation software designed for SQL Server 2005, 2000, and 7.0. Regular defragmentation can significantly improve database performance, but most DBAs have to use DBCC commands to see a database's index fragmentation—a time-consuming exercise in most environments. Visual Defrag gives you a clear, visual overview of fragmentation levels on all your databases. You can schedule the tool to run regular checks on your system and automatically defragment databases when fragmentation exceeds a level that you specify.
Since the tool's launch in October 2005, Norb Technologies has enjoyed an enthusiastic reception of the product by customers and has received helpful suggestions that will appear in future product versions. Originally a consulting and service provider, Norb Technologies' software products have grown from the company's intimate knowledge of the daily problems DBAs and developers face. Company leaders understand problems from a DBA's point of view and strive to develop unique products to address those pain points. The company offers a free, 45-day trial version of Visual Defrag.
Customers Benefit from Microsoft Partnership
The recent release of SQL Server 2005 has fostered many new vendor partnerships with Microsoft. One vendor that has supported Microsoft in its development efforts, NEC Solutions (http://www.necsam.com), announced that its servers have been broadly used throughout the SQL Server 2005 deployment, evaluation, and performance optimization cycles—which resulted in a positive joint effort. The partnership provides customers with a solution that keeps mission-critical applications and databases highly available.
I recently spoke with Andy Masland, NEC's director of strategic alliances, about the company's collaboration with Microsoft. Masland explains, "Through our work with Microsoft, we are able to offer our high availability Express 5800/1000 series of Itanium2-based servers for use with SQL Server 2005 to drive clear performance data to the enterprise, enabling more effective critical enterprise deployments."