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June 24, 2004—In this issue:
1. SQL Server Perspectives
2. News and Views
5. Events Central
6. New and Improved
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1. SQL Server Perspectives
(contributed by Brian Moran, news editor, firstname.lastname@example.org)
On June 2, Microsoft announced the launch of two free tools: Microsoft Office Business Scorecards Accelerator and Microsoft Office Excel Add-in for SQL Server Analysis Services. Both products expand the types of business intelligence (BI) front ends that a customer can create using Microsoft technologies they likely already have without needing to buy third-party tools or writing a lot of custom code.
The Business Scorecards Accelerator is a Web-based application that lets organizations simplify the measurement and management of key performance metrics to more easily communicate, drive, and measure business strategy. Technically, the Business Scorecards Accelerator is free, but you need licenses for core products that the Accelerator relies on, such as Microsoft SharePoint Portal Services. The Excel Add-in for Analysis Services is a flexible reporting and analysis tool that lets you access and analyze data directly in Excel. By using Analysis Services' OLAP functionality, the Excel Add-in for Analysis Services lets IT professionals create customized reports that give employees the ability to access relevant business data when they need it. Both accelerators are now available for download at no additional cost to customers who have valid licenses for the required underlying Microsoft products. You'll find an FAQ, case study, deployment advice, download information, and other helpful material for each product on the following Web sites: the Business Scorecards Accelerator and the Excel Add-in for Analysis Services.
I doubt that either of these new tools, compared to full-featured third-party offerings on the market, will be best of breed. But I suspect that customers will see the offerings as welcome additions to the Microsoft BI tool suite because they're free and customers can try them out risk free.
Microsoft's strength has always been in creating platforms that third-party vendors and customers can build on. Usually, it's not in Microsoft's best interests to try to fill every niche in the market. For years, Microsoft stayed out of the BI front-end space. I doubt these additions will send established BI front-end vendors running for the hills, but I think it's a wise and customer-serving idea for Microsoft to offer more robust BI tools. Although SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services contributes to the overall value of SQL Server, countless customers who could benefit from a BI solution still have no idea what BI is. Initiatives from Microsoft that make BI more mainstream in corporate America will be good for both SQL Server adoption and for the third-party BI market.
Also, last week, I mistakenly said that extended support for SQL Server 2000 will end 2 years after mainstream support ends, but that's incorrect. Mainstream support for SQL Server 2000 will end 2 years after SQL Server 2005 is released, and extended support will last for 5 years after that. Thanks to Robert Helm from Directions on Microsoft for pointing out this error.
2. News and Views
SQL Server Magazine won a bronze regional award for Steve Kass's April 2003 technical article, "The Business Rule Clue," in the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) 26th annual editorial and design awards. The article looks at a by-the-book solution to a query-misfire mystery: You think you've written a simple query to return summary data from your SQL Server database, but the query fails. In tracking down the reason for the query's unexplained demise, Kass returns to the basics of database normalization. You can read the article at
SQL Server Magazine has joined with members of Microsoft's SQL Server development team to bring you a new column that answers your most pressing questions. The column, "Ask Microsoft," will debut in the magazine's August issue, and we've set up a new email address, email@example.com, where you can ask members of the SQL Server development team—such Patrick Conlan (Project Server team), Donald Farmer (Data Transformation Services—DTS), Euan Garden (tools), Vaqar Pirzada (replication), and Richard Waymire (business intelligence—BI—services)—those nagging questions. So don't delay, send in your technical questions about everything from T-SQL, DTS, server internals, replication, MDX programming, and management tools to ADO.NET, Common Language Runtime (CLR) programming with SQL Server, and architecting applications for performance and security. And as development team members help answer your questions, they'll also be helping another community by donating payment for the column to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The voting has closed in SQL Server Magazine's Instant Poll for the question, "Do you think Microsoft's new Support Lifecycle will benefit your organization?" Here are the results (+/- 1 percent) from the 79 votes (deviations from 100 are due to a rounding error):
- 25% Yes
- 38% No
- 38% I don't know
The next Instant Poll question is "Will you download the Business Scorecards Accelerator and the Excel Add-in for Analysis Services?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine Web site and vote for 1) Yes, I will download both products, 2) I will download the Business Scorecards Accelerator, 3) I will download the Excel Add-in for Analysis Services, or 4) No, I won't download either product..
Our VIP Web site/Super CD subscribers are used to getting online access to all of our publications, plus a print subscription to Windows & .NET Magazine and exclusive access to our banner-free VIP Web site. But now we've added even more content from the archives of SQL Server Magazine! You won't find a more complete and comprehensive resource anywhere—check it out!
SQL Server Magazine delivers quality content relevant to SQL Server developers, DBAs, and business-intelligence architects. Choose from an array of helpful expertise, hot topic discussions, savvy advice, and time-saving tips that focus on SQL Server 2005, Reporting Services, security, and much more. Subscribe today and get a free System Table Map Poster!
The pressure's on to keep customer data private, but your organization can still use its valuable collection of customer information—and even make money from it. Just follow the basic steps that Brian Connolly outlines in his July focus article, "Under Wraps," and you and your customers can rest secure. Read this article today at
FrankM tried to join two tables and store the results in a new table by using a SELECT * INTO FROM statement. But the results contain duplicated columns, so his table creation fails. FrankM wants a generic or better way to exclude the duplicated columns. Offer your advice and see what other people have said on SQL Server Magazine's T-SQL forum at
Q. SQL Server is executing a procedure, sp_reset_connection, that my code doesn't call. What is sp_reset_connection?
A. The sp_reset_connection procedure runs when the OLE DB (or ODBC) connection pool grabs a connection that's been released to the pool but is still active on SQL Server. The SQL Server connection, or server process ID (SPID), might still have connection information from a previous user. Thus, the sp_reset_connection procedure resets the connection so that it's clean for the next user. For example, temporary tables have scope as long as the SPID that created them is active. When the connection pool reuses that SPID, you don't want the new user to see an old temporary table that should be out of scope. This procedure is lightweight and doesn't cause performance problems. You'll see the procedure whenever a middle-tier box that's using connection pooling accesses SQL Server.
5. Events Central
For a complete guide to Web and live events, see
The SQL Server Magazine Connections conference is coming to Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 7-10 along with concurrently running events Microsoft ASP.NET Connections and Visual Studio Connections. Register early and receive access to all three conferences for one low price and get the best early-bird discount. Call 203-268-3204 or 800-438-6720.
6. New and Improved
(contributed by Dawn Cyr, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vale Software announced MSDE Manager, software that provides a visual interface for administering Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE) and Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE in SQL Server 7.0) databases, and SQL Documentor, software that lets developers produce detailed reports about the contents of their SQL Server databases. MSDE Manager lets you add, edit, and delete databases, tables, views, users, roles, rules, stored procedures, defaults, user-defined data types (UDTs), and functions. A table designer lets you work with columns and set primary keys, triggers, indexes, and constraints. The tool even lets you change your database's authentication mode and change your columns' data types. SQL Documentor produces customizable reports that show tables, column names, data types and sizes, default values, users, and rules. MSDE Manager costs $79, and SQL Documentor costs $49.99. Vale Software is offering both products together at the discounted price of $99.99, and a free trial version of both products is available for download. For more information, contact Vale Software at 44(0)116-212-2301 or email@example.com.
TOPP Portable Air announced the Office Pro 12, a portable air conditioner designed for use in server rooms and other environments where heat-generating equipment such as computers where possible breakdowns could threaten workflow. The Office Pro 12 provides 11,800 BTU per hour of cooling and operates on standard 115-volt power. The unit has a programmable digital controller that lets you set temperature and time for cooling overnight and on weekends. The two-speed fan lets you adjust the airflow at any time. No installation is necessary--you simply roll the unit into place, plug it in, and turn it on. The suggested retail price is $3295. For more information, contact TOPP Portable Air at 800-892-8677.
xSQL Software announced xSQL Object, a utility that lets SQL Server 2000 DBAs perform scripting, comparison, and synchronization of SQL Server objects. Designed to work on the .NET Framework 1.1 or later, the product's interface lets you compare servers, databases across different servers, tables, views, stored procedures, user-defined functions (UDFs), user-defined data types (UDTs), indexes, groups, and permissions. The product also simplifies scripting of SQL Server objects based on the hierarchy of dependencies. Pricing starts at $149 for a single-user license, and a free trial version is available for download. For more information, contact xSQL Software at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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