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SQL Server 2005 reaches RTM at long last

Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 were released to manufacturing last week. The new database server is positioned to make inroads in the large enterprise market.

The last release of SQL Server was five long years ago. The product's availability dates have been pushed back several times.

Finally, last week Microsoft released to manufacturing the final versions of long-awaited SQL Server 2005, along with Visual Studio 2005 and Biztalk 2006, on Thursday, a little more than a week in advance of the official Nov. 7 launch.

Microsoft has positioned the lengthy development time as part of its effort to encourage confidence in SQL Server 2005 from day one. As reported, database mirroring wasn't part of the RTM. Microsoft officials said they pulled the feature because it was not performing up to the standards they set for the product.

Although many corporations are in no rush to get SQL Server 2005 up and running in production, early talk about the software has been positive, according to Donald Feinberg, a vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn.

"I've talked to probably a dozen clients who've been in the early production program for it," Feinberg said. "Anybody who will move beta software into production has to really trust it."

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Microsoft hopes SQL Server 2005 will appeal to enterprises that are traditionally customers of Oracle and IBM database technology, which have features such as data management and business intelligence tools that were absent from the 2000 version of SQL Server.

Microsoft also introduced special pricing for customers migrating from Oracle and DB2 platforms, as well as from Sybase ASE, Hitachi HiRDB and Fujitsu Synfoware, with discounts of 25% off the standard edition license, and 50% off both the enterprise edition and client access licenses, if purchased with the Software Assurance license at regular price.

Even without the discounts, pricing is one of the advantages SQL Server 2005 has in going after Oracle customers, even if Microsoft boosted the price of this version 25% per processor over the previous one.

"If the list price of Oracle is $40,000 per CPU, and the list price of SQL Server is $25,000, that's a big difference," Feinberg said. "Plus, Oracle has a lot of add-on packages that cost more. Microsoft has none. It's $25,000 for everything."

Feinberg said the SQL Server 2005 early adopters he has worked with range from relatively small databases of 10 to 20 gigabytes to databases as large as 2 terabytes. Good results with those larger users may bode well for Microsoft's strategy.

"They have many large clients today – not a lot, but many – and they're doing it with SQL Server 2000," Feinberg said. "With the greater performance of the new version, and more important, the ability to manage large databases, Microsoft SQL Server 2005 will be a serious contender against both Oracle and IBM for large applications."

Separately, Microsoft named Bob Muglia senior vice president of its server and tools business. In the post, Muglia will have overall responsibility for SQL Server, among other products. The transition will begin next week after the formal launch of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005.

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