In Yukon, the next major release of SQL Server, Microsoft is introducing several new technologies that will change the types of skills that traditional DBAs need. Although Yukon's commercial release is still almost a year away, it's time to start thinking about Yukon and preparing for the changes if you haven't already done so.

Yukon's introduction of native support for the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) and richer XML integration will force hard-core DBAs to learn more about the development world than they've had to in the past. Ignoring these new technologies will relegate you to the DBA dinosaur heap within a few years. The advent of .NET integration in Yukon doesn't mean that the DBA's role is about to expire, but it does mean that the tasks a DBA must master to stay current are about to expand.

You can start educating yourself by visiting Microsoft's Yukon home page at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/yukon/productinfo/default.asp . The site provides many interesting technical resources, including Microsoft's list of top 30 Yukon features. The page also includes several valuable technical articles, including:

  • Overview of .NET Programming Features in SQL Server "Yukon" Beta 1
  • Performance Optimizations for XML Data Type
  • SQL Server "Yukon" Beta 1 Transact-SQL Enhancements
  • XML Best Practices for SQL Server "Yukon"
  • Introduction to SQL Server "Yukon" Relational Engine Security Features
  • Reporting Services Beta Deployment Guide

A quick Internet search will reveal more Yukon information, including the following articles from SQL Server Magazine's special November Yukon coverage:

Articles and white papers give you useful information, but they don't let you get your hands dirty with the real thing. By now, you're probably wondering, "Where's the beef?" To start thinking about Yukon in a serious way, you want access to Yukon Beta 1.

Microsoft is managing Yukon's beta process in an interesting way. The company distributed more than 10,000 copies of Yukon Beta 1, considered a private beta, at the recent Professional Developers Conference (PDC) and Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) meeting. Attendees at these conferences weren't under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), so the beta kits that Microsoft handed out are distributable if you have colleagues or friends who attended one of those events. However, Microsoft hasn't made a version of Yukon Beta 1 publicly downloadable. You can sign up for the next Yukon beta at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/evaluation/betanominations.asp and expect a widely distributed public beta sometime next year. Given the number of copies distributed at PASS and PDC, you shouldn't have too much trouble getting your hands on the beta kit. In the meantime, you can explore SQL Server Magazine's Yukon beta forum at http://lists.sqlmag.com/cgi-bin3/DM/y/edq20FgQMn0BRZ0KQO0A3 for valuable information and ask questions of those currently evaluating the beta.

Don't worry. I'm not going to harp incessantly about Yukon over the coming months. After all, many of us will be focused on current SQL Server installations for at least the next year, and SQL Server 2000 is sure to have a wide user base for years to come. However, the major changes coming with Yukon will require you to start educating yourself sooner rather than later.