"Give me liberty or give me death." Patrick Henry proclaimed those words 227 years ago. And now this rallying cry comes from SuperDBA, who manages a monster SQL Server database that gobbles memory the way the Doomsday Machine from "Star Trek" gobbles planets. SuperDBA yearns to be set free from the shackles of her 32-bit addressable memory space and dreams of the 64-bit SQL Server promised land! Liberty is just what she needs.

Liberty is the code name for the 64-bit version of SQL Server 2000 designed for Windows .NET Enterprise and Windows Datacenter Server 2002 (formerly code-named Whistler) running on Intel Itanium processors. And 64-bit data platforms offer tremendous flexibility to certain classes of memory-intensive applications. Microsoft has positioned Liberty as its super-high-end enterprise database platform and built it to take advantage of hardware enhancements in 64-bit hardware and Windows platforms. Initially, Liberty will constrain hardware platforms to 64GB of memory, although a 64-bit address space theoretically can support 32TB of memory.

The 64-bit version of SQL Server 2000 ships as a 64-bit database server, a 64-bit server agent, and a 64-bit analysis server (for OLAP and data mining). The code for these SQL Server 2000 64-bit components is compatible with the 32-bit version of SQL Server 2000, which makes it easy for you to integrate a 64-bit server with other SQL Server 2000 database servers. However, Microsoft isn't shipping 64-bit versions of the client tools, so you'll have to administer your servers from 32-bit servers and workstations.

Would you like to participate in the Liberty beta program? Liberty isn't publicly available, but Microsoft has asked SQL Server Magazine to help it identify qualified beta testers. Microsoft will tightly control the Liberty beta, and candidates must fill out a detailed Web survey that describes the environment in which they will beta-test the product. You'll need at least a 733MHz Itanium server and a copy of the 64-bit version of Microsoft .NET beta 3.

Are you a good candidate for the beta? The program manager who is handling the Liberty beta says that Microsoft is looking for users with applications that have reached performance limits because of memory constraints. Perhaps you need a working set greater than 4GB to load data into memory for faster processing. Perhaps you need more addressable memory to manage more users logged in to the database. Microsoft says that the best customer-application scenarios will fall into one of these categories:

  • e-commerce applications with an unbound number of users
  • large data warehouses and analysis applications
  • global-scale Web services that drive a high online transaction processing (OLTP) workload

If you're interested in the program and meet the base qualifications, visit Microsoft's SQL Server Web site and apply. Because Microsoft plans to launch the controlled beta on February 13, 2002, the company will immediately review your application.

A final note: Oops! Last week's worst-practices commentary contained a one-word typo that had major ramifications. I listed one of the worst practices as "Running SQL Server in mixed-authentication mode without a NULL password for the systems administrator (sa) account."

Fortunately, more than 100 eagle-eyed readers pointed out my error.

I'm sorry that I wasn't able to respond to everyone individually, but, yes, the worst practice should have read "Running SQL Server in mixed-authentication mode with a NULL password for the systems administrator (sa) account."