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March 23, 2006

1. Perspectives

  • Courting Customer Comments
  • 2. News & Views

  • Exclusive: Microsoft Delays Vista Beta 2 to Late May and RTM to October 25, 2006
  • Atlas Shoulders Support for AJAX and ASP.NET
  • Results of Previous Instant Poll: SQL Server Upgrade Plans
  • New Instant Poll: Customer Collaboration
  • 3. Events and Resources

  • Make Full Use of Your VoIP Network
  • Early Bird Special Extended!
  • Learn Web-Based Security Protocols
  • Alternatives to Traditional Storage Solutions
  • 4. Featured White Paper

  • A Multi-Tier Approach to Email Security
  • 5. Peer to Peer

  • Hot Tip: Finding an Individual Log File
  • Hot Article: More TOP Troubles: Using TOP with INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE
  • In a Nutshell: The Concept of a "Shell" Database
  • Hot Threads
  • 6. Announcements

  • SQL Server Performance Tips, Articles, and Forums
  • VIP Monthly Pass Subscribers Have It All!
  • 7. New & Improved

  • Quickly Create Database Models
  • Compare and Synchronize SQL Server Database Schemas

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    1. Perspectives

    Courting Customer Comments
    by Brian Moran, brian@solidqualitylearning.com

    Last week, Microsoft released several Community Technology Previews (CTPs) for SQL Server 2005, including:

  • SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 1 (SP1) CTP
  • SQL Server 2005 Books Online SP1 CTP (March 2006)
  • SQL Server 2005 Express SP1
  • SQL Server 2005 Express with Advanced Services CTP
  • You can find download instructions and more information about these CTPs at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=24DFF:7B3DA. Some of the highlights of these CTPs include the long awaited support for Database Mirroring and the GUI administration tool for SQL 2005 Express, SQL Server Management Studio Express (SSMSE). The CTPs bring lots of other interesting features, but I'm going to hold off on discussion of the technical side of the CTPs for a future editorial.

    Instead this week, I want to focus on what Microsoft is calling its Transparent Customer Collaboration Model. Microsoft's site explains that the customer feedback its gotten from previous DTP releases has been so beneficial, the company is expanding the model and making it part of the product-development cycle.

    Microsoft says that applying the new Transparent Customer Collaboration Model to service pack releases "demonstrates our commitment to customer feedback and validation as an important aspect of a quality-focused development cycle. Also, as part of this new model, we are introducing a separate release tree for any future SQL Server security fixes, so that customers can take advantage of timely, targeted fixes that are streamlined for security specific updates."

    Who can argue with that? It sounds great—but I'm not really sure what it means. In the next few weeks, I'll be chatting with Microsoft about its new Transparent Customer Collaboration Model later this week and will provide updated thoughts in a future editorial. For now, I'm troubled by at least one aspect of this new-and-improved way Microsoft wants to interact with its customers: A CTP by any other name is still just a beta.

    Granted, I loved the idea of the CTP program before SQL Server 2005 shipped. The approach worked great and gave the community more visibility into SQL Server 2005's development than a traditional beta program would have. Learning about a major release's new features well in advance of RTM provides invaluable information for customers.

    However, I'm not sure how I feel about CTPs for service packs. I'm sure that most of my readers are incredibly brilliant, experienced SQL Server professionals who intuitively understand that a CTP is nothing more than a beta, and that they should never deploy a beta of anything in production. I'm also sure that you're well aware of the pros and cons of applying service packs when they're released, waiting for someone else to work out the bugs, or waiting simply because you don't have time to roll out a service pack across your enterprise.

    I found it interesting that sentences such as "Please note that the CTP license agreement precludes deployment of the SQL Server 2005 SP1 CTP into production" seemed like afterthoughts on the Microsoft site. I knew that those disclaimers had to be there and was looking for them, but nothing on the CTP home page jumped out me and said "Don't put this into production." I'm sure that few people would do so, but there are novices out there.

    Regardless of my reservations about possible early deployments of these CTPs, I'm pleased that Microsoft plans to have a separate release path for security fixes so that customers can get "timely targeted fixes" without deciding whether to deploy an entire service pack. Historically, Microsoft hasn't done a great job of making it easy for SQL Server customers to keep up with the latest and greatest security patches, so this is a welcome announcement that I hope Microsoft executes well.

    Providing op-ed commentary is easy and saves me from needing to make hard decisions. I can have a firm opinion this week and change my mind next week. Opinions are nice that way. But Microsoft doesn't get that kind of flexibility as it struggles with how to balance the competing needs of adding new features, fixing bugs, and providing crucial security fixes all in one easy-to-use, transparent package that op-ed pundits can't find fault with. Conceptually, I like the idea of the Transparent Customer Collaboration Model. I'm willing to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt, at least until I see how Microsoft executes this strategy. That's just my opinion—at least for this week.


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    2. News & Views

    Exclusive: Microsoft Delays Vista Beta 2 to Late May and RTM to October 25, 2006
    by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

    Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it wouldn't be able to deliver Windows Vista in time for the 2006 holiday sales season. My sources now tell me that the company plans a release to manufacturing (RTM) for Vista on or before October 25, 2006, approximately two months later than the previous shipment schedule. And the company has delayed the next major Vista milestone, the Beta 2 release, from April to late May 2006.

    The official announcement contains none of these details. In its statement, Microsoft said simply that it would ship the volume-licensed, business-oriented versions of Vista in November 2006 and the consumer-oriented versions in January 2007. The company curiously blamed this latest delay on its computer industry partners. "Product quality and a great out-of-box experience have been two of our key drivers for Windows Vista, and we are on track to deliver on both," Co-President of Platform Products and Services Jim Allchin says in the statement. "But the industry requires greater lead time to deliver Windows Vista on new PCs during \[the\] holiday\[s\]. We must optimize for the industry, so we've decided to separate business and consumer availability."

    Additionally, Microsoft has a new Vista roadmap. The Beta 2 release scheduled for April has been delayed until late May. Vista, formerly code-named Longhorn, has been delayed repeatedly in the past few years—the Windows XP successor was originally expected to ship in 2003.

    Atlas Shoulders Support for AJAX and ASP.NET
    As part of its barrage of March CTP releases, Microsoft announced the release of the latest CTP for ASP.NET, codenamed Atlas. This free framework provides a development environment that integrates client script libraries with ASP.NET 2.0. The framework's enhanced features provide the same kind of development platform for client-based Web pages that ASP.NET offers for server-based pages. In addition, Atlas is an extension of ASP.NET and as such is fully integrated with server-based services. Thus, the framework supports the use of Asynchronous JavaScript And XML (AJAX) techniques on the Web. Atlas's client framework also lets you build client-centric Web applications that integrate with any backend data provider. For more information and download instructions, visit Microsoft's ASP.NET "Atlas" page at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=24DFE:7B3DA

    Results of Previous Instant Poll: SQL Server Upgrade Plans
    "Will your enterprise install the SQL Server 2005 SP1 CTP release?" Here are the results from the 40 votes (deviations from 100 are due to a rounding error):

  • 20% Yes, we will definitely install and use it
  • 28% We plan to test the new release
  • 8% Not sure about our plans
  • 45% No
  • New Instant Poll: Customer Collaboration
    "What do you think of Microsoft's Transparent Customer Collaboration Model?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine home page (http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=24E07:7B3DA) and submit your vote for

  • It's great. Better communication between customers and Microsoft will make better products.
  • It sounds good and I'm willing to put in my two cents.
  • I'm skeptical; I'll wait to see if it works.
  • I'm not convinced Microsoft really hears customers' input.
  • I don't have an opinion about it.

  • 3. Events and Resources

    Make full use of your VoIP network
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    Early Bird Special Extended!
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    Learn all you need to know about today's most popular security protocols for secure Web-based communications.
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    Learn the advantages of each alternative to traditional file servers and tape storage solutions,
    and make the best choice for your enterprise needs.

    See the complete Windows IT Pro Network guide to Web and live events.


    4. Featured White Paper

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    5. Peer to Peer

    Hot Tip: Finding an Individual Log File
    by Microsoft's SQL Server Development Team, questions@sqlmag.com
    Q: I want to find an individual database log file. Besides dbcc sqlperf(logspace), is there any T-SQL command that will provide this file?
    A: Read the answer to this question today at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=24DFA:7B3DA

    Hot Article: More TOP Troubles: Using TOP with INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE
    Microsoft's implementation of the TOP option in SQL Server 2005 has some significant shortcomings that hinder its usefulness to DBAs. In his March T-SQL 2005 column "More TOP Troubles: Using TOP with INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE," Itzik Ben-Gan concludes his three-part series about the TOP option by describing some problems that TOP poses when it's used with data-modification statements such as INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE and offers techniques that avoid these problems. Read this article today and post your comments at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=24DF4:7B3DA

    In a Nutshell: The Concept of a "Shell" Database
    In this week's blog, Kevin Kline highlights a utility that takes duplicates the operational behavior of potentially huge databases while still keeping the actual size very small. Read about this utility and let Kevin know your opinion of its potential today at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=24DF5:7B3DA

    Hot Threads:
    Check out the following hot threads, and see other discussions in our 30 SQL Server forums.

  • SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services: How to Create a Cube with VB or Java Code
  • T-SQL: Stored Procedure Problem
  • Administration: PK: Char or Varchar?
  • SQL Server General Discussion: Application for "Replaying" a Table

  • Hot Spot
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    6. Announcements

    SQL Server Performance Tips, Articles, and Forums
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    7. New & Improved


    by Blake Eno, products@sqlmag.com

    Quickly Create Database Models
    coderCentric announced dbSketch, a database modeling tool that lets you import SQL Data Definition Languages (DDLs) to assist in your initial database design and lets you export SQL scripts. In addition, dbSketch lets you create one-to-one (1:1), one-to-many (1:M), many-to-many (M:M), and foreign-key relationships between your tables. DbSketch also features drag-and-drop functionality, so you can re-order, move, or copy columns and tables. For more information, contact coderCentric at support@codercentric.com.

    Compare and Synchronize SQL Server Database Schemas
    Red Gate Software announced SQL Compare 4.1, a tool for comparing and synchronizing SQL Server database schemas. This release supports SQL Server 2005 with new object types, including Data Definition Language (DDL) triggers, XML schema collections, partition schemes, and Common Language Runtime (CLR) assemblies. SQL Compare also features a Miniparser to unbind only necessary indexes and computed columns. Additional features include faster object-text population, a syntax tree builder, and full backward compatibility with snapshots. A 14-day trial is available. Pricing for SQL Compare starts at $295. For more information, contact Red Gate Software at 866-733-4283.


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  • About technical questions—http://www.sqlmag.com/forums
  • About product news—products@sqlmag.com
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