On Monday, Microsoft released SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2 (SP2) to manufacturing. I hope that you’ve already completed your deployment strategy because you reviewed the contents of the SP2 Community Technology Preview (CTP). If you haven’t, it’s time to get busy so that you’ll know how to answer the questions that come from your bosses, users, and developers. You can obtain the full download and a collection of supporting information at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/sql/2005/downloads/servicepacks/sp2.mspx

Not sure if you want to bother? The “What’s new in SQL Server 2005 SP2” FAQ at http://download.microsoft.com/download/2/b/5/2b5e5d37-9b17-423d-bc8f-b11ecd4195b4/WhatsNewSQL2005SP2.htm lists more than 70 enhancements--not counting bug fixes--that might pique your interest. The enhancements range from relatively minor to substantial. The FAQ will take only a few moments to scan, and there’s value in staying abreast of the new features, regardless of whether you plan to roll out SP2 in the near future. You certainly don’t want someone important in your chain of command to say, “But what about the XYZ feature? How can we possibly live with out it?” when your only response is, “XYZ feature, huh?”

Microsoft has also released several goody bags to go along with SQL Server 2005 SP2. For example, the SP2 download and information site includes links and information about:

  • an updated version of SQL Server 2005 Books Online
  • a new Feature Pack (February 2007)
  • updated Samples and Sample Databases
  • the Reporting Services Add-in for Microsoft SharePoint Technologies
  • the Data Mining Add-ins for Microsoft Office 2007

With the release of SP2, Microsoft has announced a license change that now allows you to use unlimited virtual instances in servers that are licensed for SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition. Have enough memory and other hardware? You can buy a single license of SQL Server for the physical box, and install an unlimited number of instances or virtual instances that are contained inside a Microsoft Virtual Server sandbox.

Naturally, there are practical limits on the number of instances and virtual servers that any one box can support. But I suspect that this new licensing change will lead to a tremendous amount of experimentation by customers who want to see just how many virtual sandboxes can be squeezed onto a server. Perhaps the major server vendors will start selling tubs of butter to grease up those servers so customers can squeeze more on.

It will also be interesting to see how this change will affect Microsoft license sales volume for SQL Server. I’ve already heard more than one Microsoft district office sales executive speculating that the number of SQL Server instances will go way up, but customers won’t necessarily be buying new licenses. The sales reps aren’t super pleased because their quotas don’t take virtual usage into consideration. How will the new licensing option change SQL Server revenue? I suppose time will tell. Enjoy!