What’s your favorite SQL Server 2005 feature, big or small? What aspect of the new product has most changed the way you design, build, or maintain Microsoft-based databases and applications? SQL Server 2005’s long development cycle gave the SQL Server community, including its pundits, years to speculate about how quickly people would adopt features such as SQLCLR--or whether people would adopt them at all. Now, I’m curious. What parts of the product have proven to be most important to you?

Usually, I share my thoughts and ideas with you. But this week, I’m going to ask you to share with me. When I look for the features that have had the most effect on the SQL Server community, it’s easy for me to focus on the “big ticket” items such as the SQLCLR, partitioning, or database mirroring. However, I suspect that for many of you, the biggest effect of adopting SQL Server 2005 hasn’t come from one or two big features but the aggregate of a lot of small, positive enhancements.

So, how has SQL Server 2005 changed your activities as a database professional? What features do you like the best? What features have saved you time? What features let you build better applications, even if you haven’t saved time? Do you get better performance? Are your databases more scaleable or more available? Do you have better security? Have SQL Server’s improved BI capabilities made it easier for you to add bits of BI and data warehousing capabilities to applications? I want to hear it all.

I considered trying to put together a more traditional poll, but this topic is too broad and open-ended to be shoehorned into the few responses I might be able to think up. SQL Server 2005 has so many new features that most of us haven’t been able to fully explore the product. Perhaps someone’s current favorite feature is obscure enough that you haven’t found it yet, but it might become your favorite feature as well once you know about it.

So tell me what you think. I can’t promise to answer every email that I receive about this topic, but I’m hoping to engage in multiple conversations with readers to gain a much clearer sense of how the community is using SQL Server 2005, beyond the obvious and beyond what I can see from interactions with my own clients. I’ll share the most interesting observations and comments over the next few weeks.

Send your input to me at brian@solidqualitylearning.com.