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Get Ready for SQL Server 2005
Belated Beta 2 shows what's in store for data architects, project managers, and DBAs.
by Roger Jennings

August 20, 2004

Technology Toolbox: VB.NET, C#, XML, Visual Studio 2005 Enterprise Beta 1, SQL Server 2005 Beta 2, SQL Server 2005 Express Beta 2, Web services

SQL Server 2005—the database formerly known as Yukon—is in the throes of what promises to be a five-year-plus gestation. Projected beta release dates have come and gone since its first demonstration in 2001, and some features have been cut. Microsoft released Beta 2 this July for download by MSDN Enterprise, Universal, and Professional subscribers (see Additional Resources). Microsoft's Tom Rizzo, director of SQL Server product management, says Beta 2 is "close to feature-complete," with later betas to deliver enhancements to SQL Server Reporting Services and the management tools. The actual product is due to ship in 2005, as its new name promises, with the additional promise that it will be fast, bulletproof, and secure.

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I'll describe the SQL Server 2005 Beta 2 feature set and comment on the features Microsoft cut or deferred to future revs. I'll focus on SQL Server 2005's future impact for DBAs, project managers, data architects, and IT management—not developers testing Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 with SQL Server Express. You need ADO.NET 2.0 to take advantage of several new SQL Server 2005 capabilities; I'll include details of features that depend on .NET Framework 2.0 upgrades to the System.Data.SqlClient and the new System.Transactions namespaces.

Beta 2 adds data security by offering selective encryption of sensitive information with functions that convert clear (character) text to ciphertext (varbinary). You need data encryption to comply with federal and state privacy and confidentiality regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). You also need encryption to gain exemption from California's Information Practices Act (SB 1386).

You can specify symmetric keys for better performance or asymmetric keys for greater security. Asymmetric keys can encrypt symmetric keys. All keys are stored in the database. I'll describe T-SQL encryption statements and encrypt/decrypt functions later.

Data availability is another hot topic. Beta 2's database mirroring creates hot-standby servers that can supplant failover clusters and are much easier to manage. Database administrators get a dedicated connection for use with the Sqlcmd.exe utility when the server won't accept new connections.

A second edition of Beta 2 supports Advanced Micro Devices' 64-bit Opteron processors with Direct Connect Architecture. Expect a third version supporting Intel 32-bit CPUs with 64-bit extensions in the Beta 3 timeframe, says Rizzo. That's when more platforms using these chips will become available for testing.

SQL Server 2005 sports a new set of management tools: SQL Server Management Studio, Computer Manager, and Business Intelligence Development Studio. Management Studio (Beta 1's SQL Server Workbench) combines SQL Server 2000's Enterprise Manager, Query Analyzer, and Analysis Manager apps into a unified IDE modeled after Visual Studio 2005 (see Figure 1). You manage Notification Services, replication, Reporting Services, earlier SQL Server versions, and SQL Server Mobile Edition in the same UI. You can create and save solutions containing projects including connections, queries, and associated miscellaneous files.




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