Ok, it's official. SQL Server 2005 is here. Launch events all over the world are introducing the new product, you can download bits from MSDN, and you might even already be able to purchase media from certain distributors. Most SQL Server customers will move to SQL Server 2005--it's simply a question of when. Most technical folks will want to move yesterday; no one wants to be the last kid on the block with the newest coolest toy. But boring manager types who are actually concerned about safety might say, "Heck, what's wrong with waiting for the first service pack?" This week, I won't debate the pros and cons of a rapid upgrade cycle, but I will follow up on the idea I introduced a couple of weeks ago in "Upgrading: Who Wants to Be First?" ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=19214:7B3DA ). In that article, I emphasized that early adopters really won't be the first penguins in the water. But you might need some additional information about quality assurance testing and pre-release customer testing to help the nervous nellies feel comfortable that SQL Server 2005 is a safe and viable platform today.

One fact that might give your management the confidence to upgrade is that Microsoft subjected SQL Server 2005 to significantly more quality-assurance testing that SQL Server 2000. The company put SQL Server 2005 through 40 times more stress-testing hours than SQL Server 2000. 3900 machines hours were logged for SQL Server 2000 compared to more than 150,000 hours for SQL Server 2005. And the company increased the loads on SQL Server 2005 internal stress-testing tools by a factor of 10. SQL Server 2005 was subject to between three and five times more functional test paths than SQL Server 2000. As part of product testing, Microsoft upgraded more than 1000 customer databases in the internal Microsoft labs. And Microsoft's patented StackHasher exception technology tested 100 times more paths in SQL Server 2005 than in SQL Server 2000; more than 100,000 paths were tested in SQL Server 2000, but more than 10,000,000 were tested in SQL Server 2005.

Many of these improved tests are the result of huge investments that Microsoft made in testing automation. The company's internal AutoVerify tool filed 11,000 bugs and analyzed 182,000 dumps without human intervention. Thus, Microsoft's ability to do more testing was greatly enhanced. Microsoft estimates that its automation tools saved more than 20,000 person hours.

What about pre-release deployments? Here are some facts that might persuade a reluctant manager that an upgrade will be successful. Worldwide, Microsoft has 15 independent software vendor (ISV) upgrade labs that upgraded more than 200 ISV applications to SQL Server 2005 before the product's release to manufacturing (RTM). All of Microsoft's own internal, core business systems were converted to SQL Server 2005 before RTM. The company upgraded more than 100 applications, including five multi-terrabyte systems. And through its early-adopter programs, Microsoft upgraded more than 50 mission-critical customer applications around the world. Some of the most interesting applications include systems for Barnes & Noble, Experian, Nestle SA, NASDAQ, Xerox, and Texas Instruments. I'll explore some of the most interesting facets of those and other large SQL Server 2005 applications in a future editorial.

So, if you're excited about upgrading to SQL Server 2005 but your management doesn't want to be the first penguin, tell them not to worry: you won't be.