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June 6, 2002—In this issue:

1. COMMENTARY

  • Microsoft Launches Controversial Licensing Program

2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS

  • Results of Previous Poll: RDBMSs in Use
  • New Instant Poll: Licensing 6.0

3. ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Immediate Access to T-SQL Solutions!
  • Register for Our Latest Web Seminar and Get a Free Subscription to SQL Server Magazine!

4. HOT RELEASES (ADVERTISEMENTS)

  • Graphical Task Scheduler
  • Protect Your Database
  • The Sagent Analytic Advantage - Free White Paper

5. RESOURCES

  • What's New in SQL Server Magazine: Tracking Time
  • Hot Thread: Unique Constraints
  • Tip: Log-File Growth and DBCC DBREINDEX

6. NEW AND IMPROVED

  • Automate the Documentation Process

7. CONTACT US

  • See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

1. COMMENTARY

  • MICROSOFT LAUNCHES CONTROVERSIAL LICENSING PROGRAM

  • (contributed by Brian Moran, news editor, brianm@sqlmag.com)

    Microsoft is relaunching a controversial licensing model called Licensing 6.0 that will change the way you buy and license SQL Server. The company is offering deeply discounted promotional prices during the transition period, which ends July 31, so you have about 7 weeks to decide which option best fits your needs. Now is not the time to act like an ostrich and stick your head in the sand. Licensing 6.0 has implications for your short- and long-term SQL Server plans regardless of whether you're using SQL Server 2000, 7.0, or 6.5. You need to learn about Licensing 6.0 and make an informed decision.

    Software Assurance, the key component of Licensing 6.0, is Microsoft's business strategy for selling software as a service with a predictable, annuity-based revenue stream. Software Assurance will make SQL Server less expensive for customers who upgrade SQL Server when new versions come out. But Software Assurance will likely be a more expensive option for customers who don't upgrade their SQL Servers when each new version comes out.

    I'm still not sure whether Software Assurance is a good, bad, or neutral thing for SQL Server users. This week I'm going to stick to the facts regarding Licensing 6.0's impact on SQL Server licensing. For more information about the licensing program, read "Guide to Licensing 6.0 — Microsoft SQL Server" at http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/programs/sa/SQL.asp. The guide contains more details than I can cover here. However, I think the following example of how Software Assurance works with SQL Server will clarify several points about the program.

    Let's say you own a single-processor license of SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition that you purchased for $5,000. (The suggested retail price is $4,999, but I'm rounding up to make the math easier.) You decide to enroll in Software Assurance during the transition period, which ends on July 31, 2002. The initial Software Assurance enrollment fee will be 25 percent of your initial license cost, or $1,250 in this example, plus an additional 25 percent fee each year that you decide to renew your Software Assurance coverage.

    What do you get for this fee? The Microsoft guide lists several features, but the primary benefit is the ability to install any new SQL Server release that becomes available during the period you're covered by Software Assurance. (I'm not a licensing expert, so I strongly encourage you to review this information with your Microsoft software reseller. Please don't take this column as the final say about pricing information from Microsoft.)

    Let's say that July 15 rolls around, and you decide to enroll your current license for SQL Server 2000 in Software Assurance. You would pay $1,250 (assuming a $5,000 price), which would cover you under Software Assurance for 1 year. This fee lets you upgrade to a newer version of SQL Server Standard Edition that comes out before July 15, 2003, without spending any additional money. If Yukon, the next major release of SQL Server 2000, ships before July 15, 2003, you would be able to upgrade without spending any additional money on licensing. You would have gotten a great deal by essentially pre-paying $1,250 for a single-processor Standard Edition license of Yukon that might be worth approximately $5,000. Let's assume Yukon doesn't ship by July 15, 2003. In that case, your $1,250 Software Assurance fee wouldn't have bought you anything. But you would have the ability to continue your Software Assurance coverage by paying an additional 25 percent fee of $1,250 on or about July 15, 2003, which would then cover you through July 15, 2004.

    Let's assume that Yukon ships on December 31, 2002 (a date I made up!). You would then have the right to roll out Yukon anytime you wanted to and would have essentially bought a single-processor Standard Edition license of Yukon for $2,500, which is still a pretty sweet bargain. However, maybe it's not a great bargain if you're one of those customers who are still running SQL Server 7.0 or 6.5. As I said, Software Assurance will in general be cheaper for customers who roll out each consecutive version of the product and will be more expensive for customers who skip a release cycle for one reason or another.

    Why do you need to make your decision within the next 7 weeks? Let's say you plan to upgrade to Yukon when it ships, and you would like to purchase Software Assurance but don't take action during the Licensing 6.0 transition period, which ends on July 31. On August 1, you would have to buy a new license for your current version of SQL Server, which is $20,000 in our hypothetical example, and you would still have to enroll that license in Software Assurance at the 25 percent fee. In other words, today you can buy Software Assurance as an add-on to your current license, but Microsoft says you won't be able to on August 1.

    Do you have to worry about making a decision if you're still running SQL Server 7.0 or 6.5? Absolutely! Before July 31, you can upgrade to SQL Server 2000 through a program called Upgrade Advantage. Upgrade Advantage lets you upgrade to SQL Server 2000 for approximately 65 percent to 85 percent of the cost of SQL Server, based on what license program you're currently enrolled in, and you'll also be grandfathered into Software Assurance for 2 years without having to pay an additional fee. That would get you both SQL Server 2000 and Yukon—assuming that Yukon ships before August 1, 2004, which it almost certainly will. However, Upgrade Advantage ceases to exist after July 31, 2002. Upgrading your copy of SQL Server 7.0 to SQL Server 2000 on August 1 would require you to purchase an entirely new, full-price license for SQL Server 2000. Upgrading to SQL Server 2000 through the Upgrade Advantage program before July 31 would cost you about $3,750, plus you get two years of Software Assurance for free. Waiting until August 1 will cost you $5,000 for the base license and an extra 50 percent of the license for the two years of Software Assurance provided by Upgrade Advantage.

    Is Software Assurance right for you? The most accurate answer is, "It depends." Buying Software Assurance or Upgrade Advantage before July 31 is probably a smart move if you ever plan to upgrade to Yukon because Yukon will likely ship within the next 18 months, give or take a few months. Either way, the window of opportunity will close at the end of July. Don't be an ostrich: You need to make a decision now.

    Software Assurance is a new way to buy software from Microsoft, but other major database management system (DBMS) vendors have been selling software through similar annuity-based programs for years. I believe that Software Assurance will be a good deal for customers who plan to upgrade to Yukon when it ships because these customers will almost certainly receive a nice discount. However, I have mixed feelings about Software Assurance in general. What's your opinion about Software Assurance? Send your comments to brianm@sqlmag.com. I'll summarize your answers and revisit this topic again in a few weeks.


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    2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS

  • RESULTS OF PREVIOUS INSTANT POLL: RDBMSs IN USE

  • The voting has closed in SQL Server Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Which relational database management systems (RDBMSs) are in use at your company?" Here are the results (+/- 1 percent) from the 741 votes:
    • 51% SQL Server
    • 27% Oracle and SQL Server
    • 7% DB2 and SQL Server
    • 12% Oracle, DB2, and SQL Server
    • 3% Other

  • NEW INSTANT POLL: LICENSING 6.0

  • The next Instant Poll question is, "Do you think Microsoft's Licensing 6.0 program will benefit your company?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine Web site and submit your vote for 1) Yes, 2) No, or 3) Don't know yet.
    http://www.sqlmag.com

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    3. ANNOUNCEMENTS


    (brought to you by SQL Server Magazine and its partners)

  • IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO T-SQL SOLUTIONS!

  • Exclusive in-depth articles, tips, tricks, and code samples all at your fingertips. Content you can't get anywhere else—brought to you by the SQL Server experts you trust such as Kalen Delaney, Itzik Ben-Gan, and others. Increase your productivity today! Go to the following URL.
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    5. RESOURCES

  • WHAT'S NEW IN SQL SERVER MAGAZINE: TRACKING TIME

  • SQL Server 2000's Analysis Services lets users write back to the analysis data (the cube). You can use the write-back capability to change the underlying values stored in an OLAP cube. In "Tracking Time," SQL Server Magazine contributing editor Russ Whitney demonstrates a write-back solution he developed to track project time at his software-development company. The article appears in the June 2002 issue of SQL Server Magazine and is available online at the following URL:
    http://www.sqlmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=24769

  • HOT THREAD: UNIQUE CONSTRAINTS

  • Cameron wonders whether he can add a unique constraint or a unique index to an existing table in which the column he wants to add the constraint allows nulls. Offer your advice and read other users' suggestions on the SQL Server Magazine forums at the following URL:
    http://www.sqlmag.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=13&threadid=6551

  • TIP: LOG-FILE GROWTH AND DBCC DBREINDEX

  • (contributed by the Microsoft SQL Server development team)

    Q. I have a 30GB database, and I use the Full recovery model. Whenever I use Database Consistency Checker (DBCC) DBREINDEX to periodically reindex certain large tables, I change the recovery model to Bulk_Logged, then return it to Full after the reindexing is complete. I expected that this change would help me avoid huge transaction-log-file growth, but the subsequent log-file backup is always enormous—around 15GB. Logically, the data in the database is the same as before the reindexing, except that the indexes are reorganized, so why is the log file so large? And how can I avoid such significant growth?

    A. Yes, the data is the same, but the indexes are on completely new pages. When you perform a DBCC DBREINDEX, SQL Server logs only extent allocation (8-page units) instead of each row or page that's changed. That kind of logging avoids physical-file corruption in the event of system failure, and it also minimizes the impact that more detailed logging would have on throughput. When you back up the log, SQL Server has to back up the pages allocated in those extents so that it can retain database-backup and log-backup consistency. If SQL Server didn't back up those pages, you wouldn't be able to switch back to the Full recovery model until you did a complete database backup. You have to be able to restore the database from the last full backup plus any differential backups and any later transaction-log backups.

    Send your technical questions to questions@sqlmag.com.

    6. NEW AND IMPROVED


    (contributed by Carolyn Mascarenas, products@sqlmag.com)

  • AUTOMATE THE DOCUMENTATION PROCESS

  • Innovasys released Document! X, software that automates the process of creating and maintaining documentation for Microsoft .NET assemblies, Visual Basic (VB) and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) source code, databases, and compiled COM components. The software provides an accurate and up-to-date reference, so developers can concentrate on coding rather than on producing and maintaining documentation. You can document tables, indexes, and views for any database as well as triggers and stored procedures for SQL Server. Document!X costs $357.52. Contact Innovasys at info@innovasys.co.uk.
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    7. CONTACT US


    Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:

    • ABOUT THE COMMENTARY — brianm@sqlmag.com
    • ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER IN GENERAL — mcrockett@sqlmag.com
      (please mention the newsletter name in the subject line)
    • TECHNICAL QUESTIONS — http://www.sqlmag.com/forums
    • PRODUCT NEWS — products@sqlmag.com
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      Customer Support — sqlupdate@sqlmag.com
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