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SQL Server 2008 moves on, wants to stay friends

It’s not you, it’s the BI and database engine

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The options for what to include in a stack are many and direct comparisons are difficult. Although it is tempting to deploy the Express edition of SQL Server 2008 on cost grounds - it's free - the Web edition is optimized for web-based scenarios. But, and here's the catch: it isn't free.

Engine of change

So what's new in the database engine itself? The resource governor is all-new. This tool lets you allocate available resources into pools. This allows jobs to be grouped depending on their importance and allocated to a resource pool, which in turn enables jobs that need to be completed rapidly (like loading data) to be given more resources than less time-critical tasks. The resource governor is also a useful aid to monitoring resource usage.

Data compression is also a new and welcome addition in these days of burgeoning data volume. Row and page compression are both supported: row compression stores fields using a variable width format thus reducing the bytes needed to store compressible data, and page compression is similar except that it compresses the rows on a page. There is inevitably a performance hit during compression when writing and de-compression when reading, but Microsoft said the reduced disk I/O counterbalances the compression times and even improves query performance.

Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) is another new feature and can be implemented at the engine level, meaning you can protect an entire database without having to change anything in the applications.

SQL Server's database mirroring abilities have been enhanced to make them faster and easier to use. Mirroring transfers log files between servers in order to improve fail-over times when the standby server is called into play. The ability is further improved by log stream compression (another newbie) that speeds up the mirroring process.

The implementation of a new spatial data type is significant because it allows geographical data to be handled and manipulated elegantly. Using this data type it is possible to find, for instance, how many contacts are within a 50-mile radius of your offices - and much more.

SQL Server 08 gauge control

All new: gauge control displays data in a range of flavors

I have written extensively in Project Watch about making use of this feature to plot locations on a map.

The backup system has been rewritten and now delivers a huge improvement in performance, linear scalability and the ability to handle an analysis services database of more than a terabyte. The new backup can usefully replace raw file system copying so that the ability to run in parallel with other operations, amongst other benefits, can be felt. Equally good news is that backup compression is supported in 2008.

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