The release of SQL Server 2008, code-named Katmai, is around the corner. Scheduled for 2008, it promises to add several important features to Microsoft's premier database server. Some of these features Microsoft didn't have time to put in the SQL Server 2005 release, while others are new. (Learn more about "SQL Server 2008's T-SQL Features" and SQL Server 2012.)

7. Enhanced Office Integration


SQL Server 2008's enhanced integration with Microsoft Office 2007 enables users to create database-enabled reports directly from either Microsoft Office Word 2007 or Excel 2007. These reports can then be published and shared by using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

6. Language-Integrated Query


LINQ is Microsoft's latest application data-access technology. It enables Visual Basic and C# applications to use set-oriented queries that are developed in the native language, rather than requiring that the queries be written in T-SQL. LINQ uses the native SqlClient to connect to SQL Server, and its development-time connection lets developers create strongly typed queries.

5. Transparent Failover


Database mirroring in SQL Server 2005 enables clients to automatically redirect to a mirrored server in the event of a failure in the principal database. However, it requires special client configuration to specify the mirror server. SQL Server 2008 will allow clients to automatically fail over to a mirrored server without requiring any manual configuration on the client.

4. Log Stream Compression


SQL Server 2008's new support for log stream compression enhances the performance of database mirroring by automatically compressing the log stream that's sent between the database mirroring participants. This minimizes network bandwidth use.

3. Data Compression


SQL Server 2008's data compression enables you to compress data stored in the database. This reduces storage requirements and can actually improve the performance of workloads that have high I/O requirements. SQL Server 2008 also supports compressing backups.

2. FileStream Data


It's back—originally slated as part of SQL Server 2005, the new FileStream object allows large binary objects (LOBs) to be stored in the file system. The system maintains links between the database object and the file system object, insuring they have transactional consistency similar to a native database object yet providing the performance of native file system storage.

1. Ability to Hot-Add CPUs


SQL Server 2005 introduced the ability to hot-add memory, and SQL Server 2008 extends this with the ability to hot-add CPUs on supported platforms with no downtime, enhancing scalability. This ability will also be an important foundation feature for the dynamic data center, as future virtualization support in the Windows Server 2008 R2 timeframe will support hot-adding for memory, CPU, and networking.