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SQL Betas Out for SP3, 64-bit

Microsoft on Wednesday introduced two beta programs for SQL Server 2000 customers, one for Service Pack 3 and the other for 64-bit SQL Server. Company officials also discussed for the first time a Hotfix Installer tool for SQL Server to be available near the end of this year.

The announcements came during Microsoft corporate vice president for SQL Server Gordon Mangione's keynote at the annual Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) conference in Seattle. The theme of Mangione's PASS keynote was the 10-year anniversary of SQL Server on Windows, which first went into beta testing in 1992.

Beta 1 of SQL Server Service Pack 3

In addition to bug fixes, Service Pack 3 for SQL Server 2000 will bring significant security enhancements and so-called "serviceability" enhancements for users of Microsoft's flagship database platform. SP3 will change default permissions in SQL Server 2000 to make sure they are locked down and provide a wizard to walk DBAs with existing SQL Server 2000 installations through reconfiguring permissions to secure settings, says Sheryl Tullis, product manager for SQL Server. The product also includes new online documentation about SQL Server best practices.

The "serviceability" component of SP3 will include the "Watson" bug reporting tool, already in use in Windows, and a Performance Monitoring API to assist independent software vendors creating tools for better performance monitoring of SQL databases. "Availability is about making sure the database doesn't go down. Serviceability is about making sure the database is down even less for planned maintenance," Tullis says.

The Watson technology has already been delivered in service packs for Windows XP and Office XP. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in October that the tools showed Microsoft that 1 percent of all bugs in some products caused half of all errors.

"We're going to enable the same things with SQL Server," Tullis says. "We can use those results to get fixes out or we can do something in the next version of the database."

The new Performance Monitoring API is designed to help ISVs make the database more transparent for customers. "They want to know if one guy in finance is calling the report that is clogging the system," Tullis says. Companies like Precise Software are using the API to get easier and more granular access to database performance data, she says.

The solutions that Precise and other ISVs will provide with the API should provide more detail than the tools that ship natively within SQL Server, such as Performance Monitor.

Beta 2 of 64-bit SQL Server 2000

The beta for 64-bit SQL Server 2000 is the second round of pre-release betas for Microsoft's first 64-bit database. Microsoft has committed to shipping the final version of 64-bit SQL Server 2000 in April, at the same time as 64-bit versions of Windows .NET Server 2003 become commercially available.

During the first phase of beta testing for SQL Server 2003, Microsoft learned that the customers who are most interested in 64-bit SQL Server 2000 want to exploit the scalability of the platform over what the largest 32-bit SQL Server systems can do -- as opposed to running 2- or 4-processor SQL Server systems, Tullis says. Therefore 64-bit SQL Server will only be offered in an Enterprise Edition.

"Where we're seeing our beta customers test 64-bit is in large data warehousing applications and server consolidation. People who are buying 64-bit want the failover and high-availability of the Enterprise Edition," Tullis says.

Hotfix Installer

In its ongoing efforts to make it easier for DBAs to keep their systems secure in the face of a flood of security patches, Microsoft plans to offer a new SQL Server-specific tool later this year. The tool is called the Hotfix Installer, and it is billed as a wizard for helping administrators install the patches. No other information is available yet.

More information on the Beta Programs

To find out more about participating in the SQL Server 2000 beta programs, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/sql/evaluation/betanominations.asp.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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