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June 19, 2003—In this issue:
- Do you DB2?
2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft Posts SP3a Readme Additions
- Web Matrix Reloaded
- Charting the Needs of Small Businesses
- Results of Previous Instant Poll: SQL Server SP3a
- New Instant Poll: DB2 Universal Database Express Edition
- Attention—Visitors to www.sqlmag.com
- Check Out SSMU's Sizzlin' Summer Sale!
- SQL Server Magazine Connections: 4 For 1 Offer
- What's New in SQL Server Magazine: ADO.NET Don'ts
- Hot Thread: Enabling Autogrow
- Tip: Finding the CD Key
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- Get High-Speed Access to Article Archives
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Pass the 70-228 SQL Server Exam
- Create Saved DLs from Exchange
7. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Brian Moran, news editor, email@example.com)
IBM recently stirred up the database market's low-end price range with the release of DB2 Universal Database (UDB) Express Edition with self-managing and resource tuning (SMART) technology—a repackaged version of DB2 Universal Edition 8.1 designed for the small to midsized business market. SMART technology offers self-healing, self-tuning, and self-administration properties, minimizing DBA intervention and maintenance. Other features include the Configuration Advisor, which optimizes performance, and the Health Center, which monitors your DB2 system, alerts you to potential problems and provides advice about resolving them. For IBM's full press release, go to http://www-3.ibm.com/software/data/info/db2express .
IBM claims that DB2 Express is 33 percent less expensive than SQL Server. But is it really that much less? Yes and no. IBM based that claim on the following comparison. DB2 Express costs $600 for one user and $99 for each additional user. Therefore five users will cost $996. IBM says that a five-user package of SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition costs around $1450—that's about 33 percent more expensive. IBM also points out that a SQL Server Client Access License (CAL) costs around $146 per user—$99 for the DB2 Express user would be 33 percent less.
However, no one (if you're smart) pays list price for SQL Server. I'm not a licensing expert, but major software sellers offer SQL Server CALs for close to $100 based on the license plan you're on. I don't know what sort of open-market pricing will be available for DB2 Express, but I doubt that real-world figures will show DB2 Express costing 33 percent less than SQL Server for comparable configurations. It's also important to note that DB2 Express is limited to just two processors. Need more power? Then you'll need a more expensive version of DB2—needless to say the 33 percent discount evaporates.
DB2 Express is designed and marketed for the small business user because it's limited to two processors. Given that limitation, it's fair to compare DB2 Express to SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE), also limited to two processors. MSDE is free! In reality, DB2 Express falls somewhere between SQL Server Desktop Edition and Standard Edition.
SQL Server Standard Edition supports as many as four processors and includes rich tools like Data Transformation Services (DTS) and Analysis Services, which have no corollary in DB2 Express. MSDE is free, but it won't support as many users as DB2 Express and MSDE ships with limited management tools, whereas DB2 Express ships with a full compliment of the standard DB2 administration tools.
Competition is good, and the launch of DB2 Express is wonderful news for SQL Server users regardless of whether you have plans to use the newest DB2 edition. The bottom line is that DB2 Express puts some new price pressure on the low end of the database market, which is traditionally a space in which Microsoft has been the uncontested champion. DB2 Express pricing will force Microsoft to stay more competitive at the low-end price point, and it might even encourage the company to release a decent set of management tools for MSDE, which has been a sore spot for many people for a number of years. DB2 Express—use it or not, it's still good news for SQL Server users.
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2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS
Since the publication of the SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3a (SP3a) readme file, several items have changed, including documentation about optimizing cell writeback in Analysis Services, installing SP3a on a failover cluster, and unattended installations. Microsoft has posted the changes in an article online that discusses the items that aren't documented in the SP3aReadme.htm file for SP3a. You can read the updated information at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;816502 .
Microsoft announced that a new version of ASP.NET Web Matrix is available for free online. Web Matrix is a lightweight, easy-to-use, community-oriented tool for developing data-driven Web sites and Web applications with ASP.NET, developed entirely on .NET in C#. The tool provides integrated support for creating and editing SQL Server, Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE), and Microsoft Access databases. New features include J# support, Access database support, design-time enhancements such as improved table editing and user-control rendering, and many bug fixes. You can download Web Matrix at http://www.asp.net/webmatrix .
contributed by Paul Thurrott, firstname.lastname@example.org
Later this year, Microsoft will release a dramatically improved Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 (code-named Bobcat) family of products to satisfy the needs of small businesses that have no inhouse IT staff. As with earlier versions, SBS 2003 will provide all-inclusive Microsoft server solutions that work out of the box and that you can upgrade and expand to standalone Microsoft servers as the business grows. But SBS 2003 isn't a Fisher-Price version of the Windows Server System, as some have charged. Indeed, with this release, small businesses looking at Microsoft technology will have much greater flexibility and capabilities than the standalone products that make up the suite provide.
In addition to the great front-end management tools that the company has always offered in SBS, Microsoft will ship this version of the suite in two different editions—one with Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and one without. The reason for this approach is that many small businesses don't need a database server. However, most small businesses do need email, and SBS 2003 will include Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. The suite will also ship with Windows Server 2003 (which includes Microsoft Internet Information Services—IIS—6.0 and support for Windows SharePoint Services), Internet Server and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, and shared fax and modem services. Microsoft defines small businesses as companies with less than 75 PCs, a not-so-subtle change from previous versions, which assumed 50 or fewer PCs.
As with earlier versions, SBS 2003 will include simple, centralized Web-like management consoles that wrap the functionality of various tools in Windows and the other server products, providing administrators with one place of management. This approach will let tech-savvy employees at small firms manage their servers if necessary or, even better, let service providers more effectively monitor the servers and services at multiple clients. Better outsourcing is a key goal of SBS 2003, because in many cases, companies simply don't have the internal resources to maintain these types of server products.
For end users, SBS 2003 will include a new simple front end for accessing the services that the bundled products provide. In SBS 2003, users will be able to log on to a central Web page that provides a list of English choices, not technical gobbledygook. For example, you won't see an option for Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA), but rather a choice that reads "Check your email." Likewise, for remotely accessing your PC while you're on the road, the front end will provide a simple menu choice that, again, hides the underlying technology. What a concept.
I'll have more information about SBS 2003 as Microsoft begins to finalize the release. I'm told that the product is essentially completed but waiting on Exchange 2003, which is waiting on Microsoft Office 2003 ... the pain of integration, one might say. Currently, Microsoft expects SBS 2003 to ship in late summer or early fall.
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The voting has closed in SQL Server Magazine's Instant Poll for the question, "Have you installed SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3a (SP3a)?" Here are the results (+/- 1 percent) from the 278 votes:
- 40% Yes
- 32% No, but I plan to
- 28% No, and I don't plan to
The next Instant Poll question is "Are you interested in IBM's new DB2 Universal Database Express Edition?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine Web site and vote for 1) Yes, we already use DB2, 2) Yes, if it suits our business needs, 3) Yes, if the price is right, or 4) No, we're not interested.
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When you're writing ADO.NET database applications, knowing what not to do is important because violating essential precautions can ruin your applications' performance or compromise the security of your SQL Server system. In his June 2003 SQL Server Magazine article "ADO.NET Don'ts," Michael Otey explains seven rules that you shouldn't ignore. You can read this article online at
Cikkai is running SQL Server 2000 and can't get his database to autogrow. In the database's Properties window, he's selected Automatically Grow File and set the maximum file size to Unlimited Growth. When cikkai first installed SQL Server, he allocated 5GB for his *.mdf file. Now, when the database nears that limit, he has to resize it. Is cikkai missing a crucial step that will let his database autogrow? See what other DBAs have said, and offer your advice, on SQL Server Magazine's Administration forum at the following URL:
(contributed by Brian Moran, email@example.com)
Q. Can I find an installed SQL Server's CD key from the Windows registry? I have the software, but I've misplaced the key.
A. Specific paths to registry keys vary based on how you've installed and upgraded SQL Server. In my registry, the CD key is at the following registry path:
On your machine, the CD key should be in the same registry key or one similar to it.
Alternatively, you could use the undocumented xp_regread extended stored procedure and read the value directly, as this example syntax shows:
EXEC xp_regread 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE',
The first parameter specifies the root key in the registry. The second parameter is the path to the key. The third parameter specifies the key value that you're looking for. Note that you should be wary of using xp_regread in an application because it's an undocumented function that Microsoft can remove without warning. However, using the extended stored procedure for ad hoc access is perfectly safe.
Send your technical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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6. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, email@example.com)
Transcender announced TransTrainer for exam 70-228, Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2000. The CBT features 12 hours of video clips of instructor-led training with on-screen demonstrations that you can search by topic. You can use the CBT with the TranscenderCert and TranscenderFlash applications to prepare for the exam. The CBT is available for a single-user license for $129. Contact Transcender at 615-726-8779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advantage released 2Xchange, a query program that creates saved distribution lists (DLs) from collected data on Exchange Server and exports the DLs to Outlook. 2Xchange serves as a pivot point between the original data and Outlook. The software lets you update information in the data mine at user-selectable timed intervals. Once you run a query, the software can send a message to the distribution list through an email message, Internet-based fax server, or printer. You can assign friendly names to fields from the original data source to make querying easier for a user who doesn't have database experience. You can also choose to hide fields from the original data source to keep them from being exposed to the query maker. The program can mine data from SQL Server data sources. 2Xchange is sold with an unlimited number of users per domain. One domain license sells for $1995. Additional domain licenses are $1000 each. Contact Advantage at 800-837-8636 or email@example.com.
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