SQL Server 2008 Features, Function and Value

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In preparation for a webcast, I want to start to introduce some of the new SQL Server 2008 technologies at a surface that will start to shape the industry.  The features are across just about every major component in the product suite so the benefits should be broad and perceived as beneficial not only from an IT perspective, but also from a user perspective.  This should ultimately yield a significant business benefit as SQL Server 2008 is adopted in 2008 and 2009.


Let's jump into each the of new SQL Server 2008 product categories, features and provide references to some of these technologies as additional points of reference.

  • Security and Data Auditing
    • Transparent Data Encryption - This is encrypting the data while it is on disk and remains transparent to applications
    • External Key Management - This new functionality relates to consolidation of key management and integration with external products
    • Data Auditing - This is one core feature of SQL Server 2008 that will include a number of new features to include:
      • The introduction of first class 'AUDIT' objects
      • Auditing DDL (data definition language) commands
      • Support for multiple logging targets
    • Additional information - http://www.microsoft.com/sql/prodinfo/futureversion/datamanage/default.mspx
  • Availability and Reliability
    • CPUs - Support for pluggable CPUs which means that a CPU can be added on the fly and recognized by SQL Server 2008 just like memory in SQL Server 2005
    • Database Mirroring - Enhanced Database Mirroring to include compression of mirror streams, enhanced performance and automatic page-level repair for the principal and mirror
  • Performance
    • Data Compression - This new feature provides the ability to easily enable or disable data compression as an online command as well as offer more efficient data storage above and beyond traditional data compression
    • Backup Stream Compression - The ability to configure compression with server level control or backup statement control of all backup types (full, differential, transaction log)
    • Performance Data Collection - When you are experiencing a performance issue the biggest problem is pinpointing the problem, so with SQL Server 2008 Microsoft is introducing a single common framework for performance related data collection, reporting, and warehousing
    • Improved Plan Guide Support - With SQL Server 2008 plans can be frozen for permanent query usage as well as pull plans directly from plan cache with SQL Server Management Studio integration
    • Resource Governor - If you have had the need to segment your SQL Server resource utilization then you should be looking forward to SQL Server 2008 because you will have the opportunity to create pools and groups to segment the resources and govern them independently
  • Management
    • Policy-Based Management Framework - The ability to manage objects via policies as opposed to traditional scripts with inherent monitoring and enforcement
    • Microsoft System Center - Integration with Microsoft System Center which a product from Microsoft to improve operational costs
    • Extended Events - Another new feature is Extended Events which is a high performance yet light weight tracing infrastructure with insight into the core engine independent of SQL Trace
  • New Data Types
    • Date Time Data Type - The datetime data type will now be able to support the following:
      • Precision to the 100th nanosecond which is 7 digits past second
      • Time-zone datetime offset to translate the datetimes across numerous time zones
      • Rather than having to parse the datatime for just the date or just the time, now SQL Server 2008 will have date only support as well as time only support
    • HierarchyID - With the introduction of the HierarchyID data type this data type will be hierarchical-aware and will be accompanied by built-in functions, methods, etc. to support complex hierarchies in your data with .NET
  • Development Enhancements
  • Service Broker
    • Interface - A new user interface and tools will be released for working with Service Broker in order to add, drop or edit Service Broker objects directly in SQL Server Management Studio
    • Conversation Priority - The ability to set message ordering with a send and receive impact with levels one to ten
  • Data Storage
    • Data Compression - Reference the Performance section above
    • FILESTREAM Attribute - With this feature get the best of both worlds with functionality from BLOBs in the DB vs. BLOBs on filesystem
    • Integrated Full Text Search - With SQL Server 2008 Full Text Search is fully integrated into the relational engine with no external storage, no external service as well as more efficient and reliable costing
    • Sparse columns - SQL Server 2008 has more efficient storage for 'wide' tables with many columns that repeat and do not contain data
    • New index types - New indexes include:
      • Spatial indexes
      • Hierarchical indexes
      • FILTERED indexes (indexes on filtered values within columns)
  • Data Warehousing/ETL
    • Partitioned Table Parallelism - This feature eliminates the one thread limit per partition
    • Star Join support - SQL Server 2008 now supports a star join with no special syntax which is completely optimizer based with full backward syntax support
    • Data compression - Reference the Performance section above
    • Resource Governor - Reference the Performance section above
    • Persistent Lookups in SSIS - There is no longer a need for re-querying for lookup operators and cache lookups in multiple ways with the ability to persist lookups to disk
    • Improved thread scheduling in SSIS - This is accomplished by a shared thread pool and pipeline parallelism
    • SQL Server Change Tracking - Reference the Development Enhancements section above
    • MERGE statement - The MERGE statement will add a great deal of value with slowly changing dimensions
    • Scale-out analysis services - With read-only storage multiple Analysis Services SQL Servers can be leveraged
    • Subspace computations
    • New tools for cube design
    • Best practice design alerting
    • Backup cubes with better scalability
    • Excel - Data-mining add-ins for Excel
  • Reporting
    • Reporting Services Deployment - IIS is no longer required to run Reporting Services
    • Rich-text support
    • Enhanced visualization graphing
    • Word - Reports can be rendered to Microsoft Word
  • Deprecation
Next Steps
  • With all of these new features comes the potential for vast changes in building and managing applications.  As you begin to research these new features consider how these new opportunities will drive change in your applications, users and ultimately your business.
  • The SQL Server 2008 CTP is now available - Download the SQL Server 2008 CTP.  As time permits, consider downloading and installing the latest version of SQL Server as a means to learn about the new features.
  • Here are some additional information sources for SQL Server 2008:

sql server categories

sql server webinars

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sql server tutorials

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Chad Boyd Chad Boyd is an Architect, Administrator and Developer with technologies such as SQL Server, .NET, and Windows Server.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

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