While business intelligence features get the most attention in SQL Server 2008, it's the administration features in the new database that will remove some of the IT staff's daily grind.
Database administrators can now set one database or application policy across all servers, versus performing such tasks on each particular instance of a database, for example.
"IT can now apply a policy so that it's consistently enforced across all your servers, and you can also enforce that the IT group is in compliance with corporate policies when developing a custom app," said Thomas Casey, general manager within Microsoft's SQL Server group.
SQL Server 2008 was spotlighted last week at a launch event held in Los Angeles for Windows Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008. SQL Server 2008 will not be released to manufacturing until the third quarter this year.
Rather than IT having to dig through the database for information, users now have a data mining add-in tool that can be used directly from Excel. SQL Server Reporting Services is also now integrated with SharePoint so users can gather the documents they want, put them in SharePoint and create their own reports.
Minimized tasks for SQL database administrators
Database administrators can encrypt the entire database without rewriting applications and without any interruption to users. On the security front, BitLocker will prevent data access at the physical file system level when SQL Server is integrated with Windows Server 2008.
Another time saver for administrators is a basic auditing tool that can be set to track and produce reports on inserts and updates,
In addition, spatial data support can help an administrator identify information about who accessed a particular piece of data and in what context or form. "Before that, it was hard to do for an e-discovery request because the information wasn't just in the relational databases and the application -- the database and the associated files were part of that application." Casey said.
The goal Microsoft has in mind for SQL Server is to give database administrators a common programming layer and a common administrative layer for anything they want to access as data, Casey said.
While all database vendors are adding new dials and gauges to centralize tasks and for monitoring and making it easier to tune the database, SQL Server 2008 is set apart via its integration with other Windows platforms, said Carl Olofson, an analyst with IDC in Framingham, Mass.
"SQL Server is designed with Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET framework all blended together. That to me is the big selling point of SQL," Olofson said.