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March 10, 2005
2. News and Views
3. Reader Challenge
4. Events and Resources
5. Peer to Peer
7. New and Improved
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Last week, Microsoft announced the availability of SQL Server 2005's third Community Technical Preview (CTP3). Each CTP build releases a few new features and provides improved stability over the earlier CTP versions. Among other things, CTP3 includes improvements to Management Studio and adds improved 64-bit support. CTP3 is available only to BetaPlace and Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers; however, anyone can download the SQL Server 2005 Express Edition CTP3 at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=4D4A:7B3DB. This is a great way to play with SQL Server 2005, even if you don't have direct access to the CTP builds.
CTP3's key new features center around SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services. Reporting Services' current version requires you to author reports in a developer-oriented environment. You can buy a third-party tool to help you, but most end users and DBAs like to build reports with an easy-to-use product such as Microsoft Access--and most people expect Microsoft to provide a decent solution in the box. Report Builder, an end-user report-definition tool based on technology Microsoft acquired from Active Views, is Microsoft's answer to this need and is new in CTP3. I hope it lives up to its promise of providing a solid end-user reporting tool that doesn't require working with tools that are geared more toward developers. Reporting Services has already garnered a large following, but I think we'll see much more adoption when Microsoft finds a way to deliver Reporting Services' power and features with a front end that's as simple and approachable to use as Access. Hopefully, Report Builder is what we're looking for.
Microsoft also announced the release of Reporting Services Service Pack 2 (SP2) and a new set of report packs for Microsoft Great Plains 8.0 and Microsoft IIS log files. The Great Plains report packs include a set of eight pre-defined report definitions and a sample Great Plains database. The IIS report packs contain 12 pre-defined reports with a sample database of information extracted from IIS log files. Additional report packs will be coming for Microsoft Office Project 2003, SharePoint Portal Server 2003, and Microsoft Axapta. "Our goal since we introduced BI capabilities in SQL Server was to give as many people as possible greater insight into their business and the market to make better, more-informed decisions, and Reporting Services is a major component in delivering on that vision," said Bill Baker, general manager for SQL Server Business Intelligence at Microsoft. "As part of this goal, we want to make our customers more efficient, and the new Report Builder in SQL Server 2005, new Web Parts and printing functionality in SQL Server 2000, and additional report packs are all examples of how we are listening to customers' pain points and delivering reporting tools that provide relief."
Historically, Microsoft has done a poor job of helping IT professionals do complex monitoring of Microsoft server products without spending lots of money on third-party tools. I'm encouraged by Microsoft's push to make its technologies more manageable by including more robust reporting and monitoring capabilities as part of the product set. I suspect that there will always be a need for third-party solutions, but including decent reporting in the box will benefit customers greatly.
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2. News & Views
If you're attending SQL Server Magazine Connections in Orlando, Florida, March 20-23, the editors of SQL Server Magazine would like to treat you to lunch and pick your brain. We are organizing a reader lunch to learn more about your responsibilities, challenges, resource needs, and how you use SQL Server Magazine, SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, and our Web site to help you do your jobs better and faster. The lunch will be Monday, March 21. Stop by the SQL Server Magazine booth March 20 to sign up and get the details; space is limited, so reserve your place early. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando!
Randy Franklin Smith is one of the foremost authorities on the Windows Security Event Log and a respected trainer who teaches Monterey Technology Group's "Security Log Secrets" course. In his article in the March issue of Windows IT Pro, Randy shines a light on this dark and mysterious corner of cryptic event IDs and codes and inaccurate Microsoft documentation. Here's your chance to ask Randy your questions about the Event Log and get answers Microsoft doesn't provide. Join the chat on March 16th at 4:00 p.m. EST. For details visit
"Are you considering licensing the new SQL Server Workgroup Edition?" Here are the results from the 90 votes:
New Instant Poll: Accessing System Tables
"Do you access system tables directly?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine home page ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=4D48:7B3DB ) and submit your vote for
3. Reader Challenge
by Umachandar Jayachandran, firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to Ahmad Mohamed, a DBA and developer for Ernst & Young in Cleveland, Ohio and Daniele Pierasco, a DBA for Brain Force Software Italia in Milan, Italy. Ahmad won first prize of $100 for the best solution to the March Reader Challenge, "Upgrading Batch- Execution Feature." Daniele won second prize of $50. You can read a recap of the problem and the solution to the March Reader Challenge at
Now, test your SQL Server savvy in the April Reader Challenge, "OS Characteristics" (below). Submit your solution in an email message to email@example.com by March 17. Umachandar Jayachandran, a SQL Server Magazine technical editor, will evaluate the responses. We'll announce the winner in an upcoming SQL Server Magazine UPDATE. The first-place winner will receive $100, and the second-place winner will receive $50.
Here's the challenge: Mike, a test architect for a company that develops applications using SQL Server as the back-end database, wants to determine which OS version and service pack is installed on the machine running the SQL Server service. Mike wants to use T-SQL code to perform this check so that he can use the logic in his stored procedures. All his servers run Windows Server 2003 and the virtual machines he uses for testing purposes run Windows XP Professional Edition. Help Mike write the T-SQL code to determine the following OS characteristics:
4. Events and Resources
Learn the key concepts that give Oracle DBAs a firm foundation in mapping Oracle database-management skills, knowledge, and experience to SQL Server database management. This free eBook gives an overview of the differences between Oracle and SQL Server and provides real-world tips and techniques for managing these technologies. Download now!
Join Microsoft and our partners in Houston for an in-depth review of SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 technical presentations and customer success stories for database professionals at the Westin Oaks Hotel in Houston on March 17 from 7:30am-4:30pm. Register with Event Code 1032267447 at the URL below.
See the complete Windows IT Pro Network guide to Web and live events.
5. Peer to Peer
by Brian Moran, firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. I have a query that returns a result set in 35 seconds when I run it on database1 but returns the result set in 19 seconds on database2. The databases are structurally identical and reside on the same server. Database1 has only 10,000 rows more than database2. The query execution plans are almost identical, but on database2, the query uses a parallel plan; hence, the speedier execution time. Unfortunately, I have a limited ability to make structural changes to the queries or indexes, and when I run the query on database1, it often times out. Can I force SQL Server to use a parallel plan on database1?
For DBAs, one of the most important maintenance-related enhancements in SQL Server 2005 is the introduction of native partitioned tables and indexes. SQL Server 2005 enhances local partitioning, which is used for maintenance and performance reasons. Partitioning isn't new to SQL Server and the motivation for partitioning is still the same. In his March T-SQL 2005 column, "Native Partitioned Tables and Indexes," Itzik Ben-Gan walks you through the steps to create partitioned tables and indexes. Read this article today at
In this week's blog, "Protecting the Master Database from Edits in Yukon," Kevin Kline talks about one of his favorite blogs. A recent posting on Greg Lowe's blog provided a full T-SQL script that will protect a SQL Server 2005 master database from unintentional schema changes. It is Greg's (and Kevin's) opinion that 99 percent of schema changes to the master database are performed in error--his script can protect your server from this problem. Check out Greg's blog and let Kevin know if you found it useful today at
Performance: SCAN or SEEK
Administration: Changing System Table Ownership to dbo
Security: SQL Encryption/SSL
Development: Pulling My Hair Out
Performance: Using Stored Procedure to Page Efficiently
Administration: Primary File Group Doesn't Automatically Grow
Hundreds of free tips and articles on SQL Server performance tuning and clustering. And get quick and accurate answers to your performance- and cluster-related questions in our forum. All from the SQL Server performance authority: SQL-Server-Performance.Com. http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=4D40:7B3DB
Get 24/7 online access to every article on the SQL Server Magazine Web site, including exclusive subscriber-only content. With the Monthly Pass, you'll get problem-solving solutions, expert tips, tricks, and the latest insider notes to help you get all the answers you need when you need them. Sign up now:
7. New & Improved
by Dawn Cyr, email@example.com
Have you used a product that saved you time or made your job easier? Tell us about it! If we print your story in the Hands On department, we'll send you a SQL Server Magazine t-shirt. Send your product success story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TimeSpring Software announced TimeData for SQL Server, continuous data-protection software that gives you a moment-by-moment view of your data and transactions and lets you quickly recover from data loss or corruption by "turning back time" to a precise moment before the corruption or loss occurred. The software captures all changes to data in realtime at the file-system level and maintains a repository of "time-dimensioned" data. Viewing and retrieving data from the TimeData repository is simple and fast, so you can recover data in minutes, not hours. The software lets you browse multiple data views and use them to identify patterns or isolate events. This capability can help with business analytics or with application troubleshooting. You can reduce planned downtime of your SQL Server applications by using TimeData views to test new applications or upgrades. The software's efficient data capture method enables long-term reservation of data while reducing storage and bandwidth requirements. TimeData for SQL Server supports SQL Server 2000, and pricing starts at $1295 at the file server level. For more information and other pricing options, contact TimeSpring at 1-888-375-7634 or 408-834-8966.
9Rays.Net announced FlyGrid.Net, a grid-based data-control tool that lets you quickly and flexibly manage your database interface. The tool distinguishes itself from larger Windows.Forms DataGrid tools by offering complete database interface management in .NET 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0, with features designed for speed and flexibility. The tool's design editors give you complete control over column and row design, and the tool fully supports XP themes and drawing with four types of column editor styles: simple, dropdown, dialog, and spin. Features include shift/Ctrl cell-block selection, split-view capability, full support of RightToLeft, and numerous drag-and-drop options. The tool provides unlimited levels of nested grids within each row to display master and detail views or hierarchical data from several data sources. FlyGrid.Net works in bound, unbound, and virtual modes, and a variety of column types provide summaries and filters that you can customize at runtime. The product is available in Light, Standard, Pro, and Source versions, and pricing starts at $179.95. An evaluation version is available for download. For more information, contact 9Rays.Net at 206-309-0821 or email@example.com.
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