The ink has barely dried on the SQL Server 2005 CD-ROM,and Microsoft has already rolled out a feature pack with useful software components for SQL Server 2005. Although Microsoft pulled some of these tools straight out of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005, others are new.You can download each tool separately, so you can choose what you want. Here are my favorites.

Related: SQL Server 2005 Feature Pack

8. SQL Server 2005 Upgrade Advisor

This tool helps prepare instances of SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 7.0 instances for upgrade.You’ll see changed and missing features as well as important server configuration differences.

7. SQL Server 2000 DTS Package Designer

Many DTS packages won’t migrate to SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).This tool helps you update your existing DTS packages.

6. SQL Server Backward Compatibility Package

This package includes the latest versions of several important SQL Server 2000 runtime components, including DTS 2000 runtime, SQL Distributed Management Objects (SQL-DMO), and SQL Decision Support Objects (DSO).These components have all been updated for SQL Server 2005.

5. SQL Server 2005 JDBC Driver

The new Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) driver is a native type-4 JDBC driver that lets Java applications connect to SQL Server 2005 and 2000. It replaces the older JDBC driver, which has limited connectivity to SQL Server 2005.

4. SQL Server Native Client

You can use a separate installation of this tool to connect network clients to SQL Server. SQL Server Native client is a single DLL that contains the SQL Server OLE DB provider and ODBC driver. The tool can connect to SQL Server 2005, 2000, and 7.0.

3. Sqlcmd Utility

The sqlcmd command-line utility replaces the isql and osql utilities. Sqlcmd comes with SQL Server 2005, but you can also install it to manage your existing SQL Server 2000 and 7.0 systems.The sqlcmd utility requires SQL Server Native Client for database connectivity.

2. MOM Management Pack for SQL Server 2005

You can use the Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) Management Pack for SQL Server 2005 to add SQL Server management capabilities to SQL Server 2005 and 2000.The pack monitors server availability, collects performance data, and can take corrective action and send alerts for predefined error conditions.

1. OLE DB Provider for DB2

Because I do a lot of work with IBM DB2, Microsoft OLE DB Provider for DB2 is one of my favorite features.You can use this tool for replication, linked servers, or creating SSIS packages that access DB2 databases. Now if only Microsoft would shake loose Microsoft .NET Provider for DB2 from Host Integration Server (HIS) in the same way.

Related: New Features in SQL Server 2005 SP1