R2's Feature Packs

With the imminent release of SQL Server 2008 R2, there are new executables as well as updated versions of existing executables for your environment.

As many experienced DBAs already know, Microsoft releases many core components (as well as add-ons) for SQL Server in individual downloadable executables known collectively as Feature Packs.

With the imminent release of SQL Server 2008 R2, there are new executables as well as updated versions of existing executables for your environment. Let's take a quick look at what's available:

ADOMD.NET -- This is the ADO.NET object model that allows developers to browse and query data in SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services.

AMO -- The Analysis Framework Objects, or AMO, allow developers to create applications to remotely administer Analysis Services.

Books On-line -- This is the "soft" documentation for SQL Server.

Command Line Utilities -- This includes all of the command line utilities for SQL Server, including (but not limited to) bcp, rs.exe, SQLCMD, and the SQL Server Integration Services runtime dtexec.

Core XML Services -- This is the latest edition of the XML processing stack, and includes 64-bit support and increased security.

JDBC Driver 2.0 -- The Java Database connectivity driver allows any Java platform application to access SQL Server.

Native Client -- The DLL that contains both the native OLE DB and ODBC drivers for SQL Server. Using this DLL, developers can take advantage of all of the enhanced features of SQL Server.

OLEDB Provider for DB2 -- This allows developers to access data stored in IBM's DB2 platform directly from SSIS, SSAS, Reporting Services, and even via the Distributed Query Processor (linked servers).

PowerPivot for Excel 2010 -- New to SQL Server 2008 R2, the PowerPivot for Excel 2010 extension allows users to utilize a familiar interface, Excel, as an advanced data analysis tool.

PowerShell Extensions -- SQLPS.exe, the PowerShell mini-shell that loads all of the SQL Server specific extensions/cmdlets.

Remote Blob Store -- This is a set of components that developers can use to store blob data in an external store. It consists of a DLL for application developers to use in conjunction with a set of stored procedures.

Report Builder 3.0 -- This is the latest version of the end-user Reporting Services interface. In addition to existing functionality, 3.0 introduces support for geospatial visualization, as well as enhanced overall performance.

Reporting Services Add-in for SharePoint 2007 and Reporting Services Add-in for SharePoint 2010 -- This allows SharePoint to actually host Reporting Services reports, and allows SharePoint to become the primary management location for reports, as well as a data source for Report Builder.

Service Broker External Activator -- This is an external version of the internal activation software for Service Broker applications. This allows developers to move the Service Broker application outside of the SQL Server into a standalone application.

SMO -- The SQL Server Management Objects, or SMO, is the .NET Framework model that enables programmatic access to SQL Servers management functions.

SQL Server Compact 3.5 -- The Compact edition is for developers who work with mobile devices and need an embeddable database for those devices.

SQL Server Driver for PHP 1.1 -- Relying on the Native Client, this driver allows PHP scripts to access SQL Server. This is a huge boon to open source web developers who must rely on SQL Server; they can now access, in a procedural way, all data inside a SQL Server database.

SSAS OLEDB Provider -- This is the OLE DB provider for programmatic access to SQL Server Analysis Services 2008 R2.

System CLR Types -- This installs the geometry, geography, and hierarchy id data types on a system BESIDES SQL Server. This will be useful for distributed applications that rely on the geospatial data types in SQL Server.

Upgrade Advisor -- The venerable upgrade tool, updated for changes to SQL Server 2008 R2.

These packs are all already available as part of the November CTP, so changes are still possible. However, if you haven't reviewed these packs yet, take a look. In many cases these pack alleviate the need for a full installation for the SQL Server engine or Client Tools just to meet the requirements of an application.

About the Author

Joshua Jones is co-author of A Developer's Guide to Data Modeling for SQL Server: Covering SQL Server 2005 and 2008 (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2008) and is a principal with Denver-based Consortio Services LLC.