With SQL Server 2008 R2 just around the corner how do you decide if this upgrade is for you? This could depend on the version of SQL Server you’re currently running. Or it could depend on the needs of your organization and the pain points you’re currently feeling. In tight economic times many businesses have stuck with the tried and true solutions of SQL Server 2005 and even SQL Server 2000. As they say, “If it ain’t broke . . .” However, your business could get left behind if it stays with an old release too long---IT skills become dated, and the team can lose touch with current technology. Even worse, your organization misses out on the benefits that new features can offer. This could mean that ongoing business problems go unresolved. Or that new projects and user requests never get off the ground. If your company can’t offer the same services as your competitors, it could put your business at a competitive disadvantage.

The Benefits of SQL Server 2008 R2

SQL Server 2008 R2 builds on the SQL Server 2008 release and rolls up all the SQL Server 2008 service packs. In addition, SQL Server 2008 R2 offers a host of new functionality—most of it focused on providing managed self-service business intelligence (BI). This technology, called PowerPivot, empowers end-users, but keeps control of the BI process in the hands of the IT group. To learn more, check out SQL Server Magazine’s October 2009 interview with Donald Farmer. Other big features slated for the SQL Server 2008 R2 release include support for up to 256 processors, slipstream installs, new Master Data Services, enhanced multi-server management, and hot-standby database mirroring.

Upgrading from 2008: An Easy Decision

If you’re currently running SQL Server 2008 then the decision to upgrade to SQL Server 2008 R2 primarily depends on the value that the new managed self service BI features bring to your organization, and to a lesser degree it depends on how much multi-server management pain your organization is feeling.

Upgrading from 2005: More Functionality

If you’re running SQL Server 2005 then there’s a lot of new functionality to be gained by moving to SQL Server 2008 R2. SQL Server 2008 R2 includes the new BI functionality as well as the whole set of SQL Server 2008 features including database and database backup compression; transparent database encryption; new date, time, and spatial data types; new filestream data type; as well as the Resource Governor and policy-based management.

Upgrading from 2000: Get Back in the Game

If your business is still running SQL Server 2000 then you can gain an incredible amount of new functionality by upgrading to SQL Server 2008 R2. Many of the subsystems users of later versions may take for granted, such as SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) and SQL Service Broker, were introduced with SQL Server 2005, as was the SQL CLR. More importantly, even though a web update provided SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) for SQL Server 2000, out-of-the-box SQL Server 2000 didn’t offer SSRS, and few businesses took advantage of the web downloads.

Moving to SQL Server 2008 R2 gains SQL Server 2000 users the impressive feature set introduced in SQL Server 2005, plus the SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 features. Besides, most SQL Server 2000 setups are running on dated hardware due for a refresh. When you update that hardware make the move to a new release.

Learn more from "SQL Server 2008 R2 Express Installation Options."