Dig Into AdventureWorks
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp by Brian Moran, brian@solidqualitylearning.com

How many of you have AdventureWorks installed? It’s not mandatory to have these sample databases, but I think they’re valuable, even if you access them only a few times a year. Sure, they take up disk space, but that drawback isn’t as much of a concern for many of us, because disk space is awfully cheap these days.

I like having the sample databases available, even on my production server. Some will argue that you shouldn’t install anything that’s not absolutely necessary on your production server, because the extra installations could create a larger footprint for attack from a security perspective. Theoretically, it’s hard to argue with this security concern, because we want to expose the smallest possible surface area to attack. But, it’s my guess that if someone can attack you through AdventureWorks, you probably have other vulnerabilities that you need to be address first. I think the benefits of having readily available sample data outweigh the risks, but then again, I’m more of a performance-tuning geek than a hard-core security expert. I’ll be sure to share the advice of any clever reader who points out the error of my thinking on this matter.

OK, maybe you prefer not to have the sample databases installed on your production server. But I do encourage you to put them on your development servers. It’s nice having a sandbox to run sample queries for a variety of purposes. And most importantly, SQL Server 2005 Books Online (BOL) makes heavy reference to the sample databases in many of its topics, so AdventureWorks is a valuable learning tool.

Assuming you do like having the samples installed, you’ll want to have the newest version, which Microsoft released in April. You can find SQL Server 2005 Samples and Sample Databases (April 2006) at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=e719ecf7-9f46-4312-af89-6ad8702e4e6e&DisplayLang=en . This release includes several updates, including new samples for the Common Language Runtime (CLR), SQL Management Objects (SMO), SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), replication, and SQL Server Reporting Services. You’ll find descriptions of the original and new samples in the SQLServerDatabasesAndSamplesOverview.htm document, which is available at the download site. You can also directly access the document at http://download.microsoft.com/download/d/8/6/d865cf0c-c44b-401b-b426-b3bf5c628112/SQLServerDatabasesAndSamplesOverview.htm.

If you’re interested in learning more about these sample databases, you might find the Microsoft-sponsored SQL Server Samples blog helpful. The blog gives you hints and tips for getting the most out of the SQL Server samples and is available at http://blogs.msdn.com/bonniefe.

Sure, you can be a successful DBA without having access to the samples. But, there’s so much new content in SQL Server 2005 that any learning tool, including BOL, which relies heavily on the samples, is bound to be helpful.