The launch of SQL Server 2005 on November 7 is T minus 3 months and counting. In just 177,120 minutes (more or less) you, too, can be playing with the next major release of SQL Server. Of course, the geek in all of us will demand an immediate rollout. We've waited 5 long years. "New features abound," your inner child proclaims! "Testing? We don't need no stinking testing!" You high-five your cube neighbor in a Cheech-like manner.
"But wait!" the grown-up database professional lurking within demands. "Where's the ROI? What's the business-use case justification for a speedy upgrade? Is a rapid upgrade the most efficient use of limited corporate IT resources?"
SQL Server 2005 has been in the wings for so long that it almost seems like the release has sneaked up on us. Ideally, you've taken advantage of the extended wait to begin prepping for all the cool new features. If not, there's no time like the present to get started. Sometime soon, someone's bound to ask you to defend your rollout timeframe, regardless of whether you want to upgrade now or wait until after the release of the first service pack.
What's the right answer for you? You can expect numerous marketing messages from Microsoft encouraging you toward a speedy upgrade. And, after 5 years without a major new release, almost all SQL Server customers would benefit from implementing the upgrade, although not everyone has an urgent need to do so. Naturally, SQL Server 2000 will be with us for quite some time; just the other day, I was on the phone with a customer who's still on SQL Server 7.0. However, that same day, I was on the phone chatting with people at Microsoft about the risks that a customer faces in not upgrading quickly. The risks don't involve any problems with SQL Server 2000 but the competition you might face with other organizations in your industry that do upgrade. The discussion of this type of risk isn't a scare tactic--it's a compelling argument for a rapid upgrade cycle for many customers.
Listing all the reasons to upgrade or not upgrade could fill several issues of SQL Server Magazine, so I won't trivialize the subject by trying to produce a comprehensive list. However, over the coming months, I'll explore some of arguments for and against a speedy upgrade path. Needless to say, I have some good thoughts on the subject. But I'd like your help. I'm trying to get a feel for what the general SQL Server public feels about two main questions:
1. When do you plan to upgrade? 2. What are the primary reasons for your decision?
Please email me your answers. I can't promise to reply to every message, but I do read all your comments, and the feedback will help me define my thoughts in upcoming editorials. You might wonder what SQL Server talking heads like myself will have to do after November 7. That's right! We'll start telling you about all the new and wonderful features that will be in Katmai, the NEXT release of SQL Server. Current versions of a technology are so passe.