Microsoft released SQL Server 2005 Beta 2 to all Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers on Monday. Unfortunately, Beta 2 isn't publicly available for download from the Microsoft Web site, but I expect to see Microsoft field engineers passing out Beta 2 at customer sites. I think it's silly that Microsoft hasn't made Beta 2 available for full public download. I don't condone breaking licensing agreements, and I don't intend to hand out copies of Beta 2 to unauthorized customers, but realistically, once a beta is widely distributedas Beta 2 inevitably will begetting a copy becomes an easy task for anyone who wants one. Individuals who wouldn't consider giving away commercial software are often unconcerned about the license agreement terms for beta software that's available for free. Again, I'm not condoning this behavior. I simply acknowledge that the bits will be passed around. SQL Server 2005 has already been delayed for years. I think it would be nice if Microsoft made it possible for all interested SQL Server users to acquire Beta 2 freely and easily.

Are you a DBA? You should already care about SQL Server 2005, even though Microsoft doesn't plan to release it for close to a year. SQL Server 2005 will include fundamental changes. You expect any new release of a relational database management system (RDBMS) to have new and exciting enhancements, but many of the major changes in SQL Server 2005such as native support for rich XML data types and integration of the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) within the enginewill be revolutionary from the DBA's perspective. I think the changes will be good for SQL Server and SQL Server professionals, but it's still important to remember that "the old guard" usually meets with an unpleasant end during a revolution. Traditional DBAs need to continually upgrade their skills to stay competitive in a SQL Server world that's increasing tool and engine support for developers and other IT professionals whose skills cross traditional boundaries, not just the DBAs.

These ideas shouldn't be new to you. I've written about the effect that SQL Server 2005 will have on traditional DBAs many times. And countless other people have shared their opinions about this topic in countless media outlets. However, SQL Server 2005's delay has made some DBAs complacent. Some DBAs might be thinking they have an infinite amount of time to prepare. However, learning enough about the CLR to keep up with your developers (who will inevitably write inefficient serverside code) won't happen overnight. Now is the time to begin learning all you can about SQL Server 2005 so that you're not blindsided by the major changes that will be part of this release.

A few weeks ago, I told you that the SQL Server 2005 Express Technical Preview is available for public download now at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/express . SQL Server Express is essentially the SQL Server 2005 version of Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE). The Express edition won't have all the features of the full product, but most of the core engine will be the same and of course, the CLR and XML enhancements are included. The SQL Server Express Technical Preview is a great way for you to get immediate access to SQL Server 2005 technology and SQL Server 2005 Books Online (BOL) if you're not fortunate enough to have a legal means of accessing SQL Server 2005 Beta 2.

I won't spend all my time over the next year talking about SQL Server 2005, though it's easy for talking heads like myself to get wrapped up in the next big thing. I will remember that you have businesses and databases to run on existing technology. But I'll still do my best to nudge you in the right direction to ensure you're ready for SQL Server 2005 when the time comes.