SQL Server is packed with built-in functionality and tools, but it doesn't have a tool for every need. In addition, SQL Server's built-in administration tools don't work with other database platforms—a problem for IT professionals who have to make SQL Server work with Oracle, IBM DB2, or other database systems. To fill the gaps, third-party vendors have stepped in with add-on database-management products that enhance SQL Server's existing tools and, in many cases, work across platforms. Voters chose winning products in five SQL Server management categories.

Best Application- and Operations-Management Tool. Embarcadero Technologies' DBArtisan, a cross-platform database-management solution, was the reader favorite, winning 93 percent of the votes in this category. DBArtisan lets you manage data across a variety of platforms, technologies, geographic boundaries, and business units. The product comes in three editions. The DBArtisan edition is an extensible solution; you purchase this edition for a specified number of databases, and you can add more databases as your organization grows. You can also add Embarcadero Analyst components such as Capacity Analyst to customize the product's capabilities. DBArtisan Professional provides facilities for an unlimited number of databases and includes the Embarcadero SQL Debugger and SQL Profiler for troubleshooting SQL code. DBArtisan Workbench provides all the Professional edition's features plus the Embarcadero Analyst components for advanced storage and performance management.

Best Change- and Configuration-Management Tool. Embarcadero Technologies garnered a second win in this division with Change Manager, which lets you archive, compare, synchronize, and migrate application schemas and permissions on SQL Server 2000 and 7.0, Oracle, Sybase, and IBM DB2 databases. The product sends automatic notification of job completion status and can automatically create HTML-based comparison reports and send them as attachments with any job-completion notification email message. Change Manager's scripting facility lets you view, edit, and execute scripts against any target database. And the scripting window has many productivity features to help synchronize and restore database schemas.

Best MSDE Management Tool. Laplas-Soft fills the need for a Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) management tool with SQLExecMS, software for database management, tuning, development, and data manipulation in SQL Server 2000 and 7.0 and MSDE. The product lets you navigate database objects, monitor connections, manage files and filegroups, back up and restore databases, analyze table fragmentation and wait statistics, and manage logins and users. You can also generate and manipulate your SQL scripts, manage triggers and indexes, compare database scripts, and review object properties and dependencies. End users can view, edit, filter, search, and manipulate data, then export and print that data. Readers praised the product's reliability.

Best Patch-Management Tool. St. Bernard Software's UpdateEXPERT lets SQL Server professionals reliably apply patches and protect their systems while maintaining system availability. The product lets you select servers and workstations to manage, select required patches, test-deploy patches to test machines, deploy patches to production machines, issue a conformance report, and validate patches over time. UpdateEXPERT automates the process of researching patch histories and co-dependencies and advises you about and prevents deployment of patches that can harm your system.

Best Remote-Management Tool. Expand Beyond's PocketDBA for SQL Server gives database professionals secure, realtime access to any SQL Server 2000 or 7.0, Oracle, IBM DB2, or Teradata database from any wireless device or Web browser. Offering more than snapshot remote-management technology, PocketDBA lets you get inside the database to perform almost any task without the need for synchronization. Instead of relying on static screens to represent indexes, tables, and other database objects, the product applies database-management rules in context and lets you control your databases from a GUI.

Best SQL Server Management Tools
Best Application- and Operations-Management Tool
Embarcadero Technologies, DBArtisan
415-834-3131,
http://www.embarcadero.com
Price: $1895
Best Change- and Configuration-Management Tool
Embarcadero Technologies, Change Manager
415-834-3131,
http://www.embarcadero.com
Price: $1995 single platform; $4095 cross-platform
Best MSDE Management Tool
Laplas-Soft, SQLExecMS
859-333-0723,
http://www.laplas-soft.com
Price: $110 for a personal license
Best Patch-Management Tool
St. Bernard Software, UpdateEXPERT
800-782-3762, 858-676-2277
http://www.stbernard.com
Price: Subscription pricing based on the number of managed systems starts at $840 for a 1-year subscription to support up to 50 systems
Best Remote-Management Tool
Expand Beyond, PocketDBA for SQL Server
800-404-4059, 312-587-9990,
http://www.xb.com
Price: Starts at $2500 for up to 2 CPUs