Microsoft's SQL Server development team has announced a new quality-assurance program that gets you—its customers—involved in improving the database system. You can help Microsoft, improve your application, and win cool prizes—just by participating in the new SQL Server Playback Program. By participating, you extend your test team to include Microsoft, and the Microsoft SQL Server Test Team will use your workload to test future releases of SQL Server.

SQL Server 2000 is very reliable, but the SQL Server Test Team is constantly looking for ways to push SQL Server to the next level. Microsoft needs your help to find the busiest servers, the largest databases, and the most complex queries the team can use to stress SQL Server to the limit. Back in the Microsoft Labs, the team will replay these workloads on future versions of SQL Server to stress the server while applying concurrent workloads. The team will look for reliability and performance issues that might affect customers who purchase future versions of the software. If Microsoft accepts your workload, the team will replay it before shipping future versions of the product.

What commitments do you need to make? You must provide a backup and trace of your production database and workload. Microsoft will provide nondisclosure agreements that will secure your data for use only in this program.

What's in it for you? Microsoft will accept entry submissions until December 20, but if you send your submission in before August 1, you could win special prizes. If you're selected to join the program, you'll get a cool T-shirt. If your workload helps the team uncover a new issue, Microsoft will also send you a copy of Kalen Delaney's book "Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2000," (Microsoft Press, November 2000), and invite you to a private lunch with internal SQL Server developers at this fall's Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Conference in Orlando, Florida.

In addition, Microsoft will consider your application for other special SQL Server development programs, including the SQL Server customer lab, SQL Server usage review, and the SQL Server collaboration program. Most importantly, Microsoft will test future versions of SQL Server with YOUR application workload and data. This will streamline future upgrades of your application because the team will have already tested key parts of it.

What types of SQL Server Profiler workloads will Microsoft select? All Playback Program submissions must be from SQL Server 2000 on production servers. The team is looking for traces that include some of the following characteristics (however, your application doesn't have to include all these items):

  • Databases larger than 50GB
  • Databases containing localized data
  • Databases containing Unicode data
  • Single SQL Server systems supporting more that 10 active databases
  • Systems supporting more than 200 concurrent users
  • Applications that use a SQL Server feature in a unique way
  • Applications that contain complex stored procedures, triggers, cursors, or any other development aspects that challenge the server

If you want to participate in the SQL Server Playback Program, email the following information to sqlplay@microsoft.com.

  • Company name
  • Company contact
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  1. A brief description of the applications SQL Server supports
  2. The SQL Server version (including service packs and Quick Fix Engineering (QFE) updates) that the application is running on
  3. The number of databases your server supports
  4. The number of applications your server supports
  5. The approximate disk size to support all of your databases
  6. The SQL Server features the application uses
  7. Any SQL Server 2000-specific features the application leverages
  8. The approximate maximum number of concurrent users the application supports
  9. The approximate number of total users the application supports
  10. If you use a localized SQL Server version, the language you use
  11. Whether you store localized data or Unicode data
  12. Any problem you're having with SQL Server, the nature of the problem, and whether you're working with someone to resolve the issue