Beginning Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Administration - PDF

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Beginning Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Administration by Chris Leiter

Microsoft officially announced SQL Server 2008, codenamed Katmai, at the first Microsoft Business Intelligence (BI) conference in May 2007. I suppose I had the same reaction as many others — ‘‘Already?’’ SQL Server 2005 had only been released a year and a half earlier, and I started to wonder if it was too soon. I can’t tell you why I thought that. I also knew that it wasn’t unusual for Microsoft’s product teams to start planning for the next version of a product by the time the current version had been released. I knew that the time between the SQL Server 2000 and the SQL Server 2005 releases was too long. And I knew that Microsoft was committed to more frequent and consistent release cycles of two to three years for new versions of SQL Server.


I expected SQL Server 2008 to be more of a product refresh than a full new release. Most of the public material available hinted at that. It was designed to build on the framework laid out by SQL Server 2005, which offered two benefits. First, organizations that had already migrated to SQL Server 2005 would find the transition to SQL Server 2008 to be easier than moving from SQL Server 2000, or other database products. Additionally, Microsoft had solidified itself as a player in the BI market space by bundling Analysis Services, Integration Services, and Reporting Services as part of the SQL platform. What I didn’t expect was that some of the changes made were not incidental, but fairly significant. As you’ll read in this book, Notification Services is gone, and Reporting Services no longer uses Internet Information Services to publish access to the Report Server. Having decided to withhold judgment for the time being, I have to admit I was concerned about how existing implementations of both these tools would be affected.


As information about Katmai became available, I tried to absorb as much as I could. I read articles online and in print magazines that outlined new features to make management of the system, and data, much easier. One of the more compelling features for me was FILESTREAM, which allowed files to be stored in an NTFS file system while still being maintained through SQL. I immediately saw how this feature could be leveraged for a product that had been developed by my co-workers for receiving, archiving, and forwarding Electronic Fingerprint Transmission records. Looking beyond that, I could envision how other Microsoft products, like SharePoint, might eventually leverage FILESTREAM for storing extremely large files that, if stored as BLOB data, would cause the database size to quickly become unwieldy and difficult to manage.


In 2007, Microsoft announced that it intended to release Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008 on February 27, 2008. They had been releasing CTPs on a fairly regular schedule every couple of months or so. However, by the time CTP 6 had come around in February 2008, it was clear that SQL Server 2008 (and Visual Studio 2008) would not be ready by the intended release date. Microsoft has announced that they were targeting Q3 of 2008 for a release. Being somewhat of a cynic, I honestly didn’t expect to see a release until November 2008. In fact, I thought it would have been appropriate to release it on November 7, coinciding with the third anniversary of the release of SQL Server 2005.


CTP 6 was considered to be ‘‘feature complete,’’ which meant that changes from that point on were likely to be cosmetic, or relatively insignificant. At this point, components such as Data Compression, Policy-Based Management, and the Resource Governor had been through the ringer by beta testers and application developers, and most were happy with what they saw.


SQL Server 2008 was officially released on August 6, 2008 (although MSDN and TechNet subscribers had already been able to access it for a week). By this time, its features, tools, and components had gone through rigorous internal certification processes as well as significant public beta testing through the CTP availability. As I write this, it’s been just over five months since the release of SQL Server 2008. I, and my associates, have had a chance to put SQL Server 2008 through its paces in both production and test environments. While, admittedly, there have been some growing pains, I believe that SQL Server 2008 is a solid product. I have worked with a number of people who often state, ‘‘I won’t install Product X until at least Service Pack 1!’’ Because SQL Server 2008 is built on a stable SQL Server 2005 platform and improves upon it, I find it hard to justify a statement like that.


A common theme I reiterate with my clients, and also throughout this book, is that SQL Server is much more than a relational database management system. While the heart of SQL Server is, and always will be, the Database Engine, it’s the client features, the performance management tools, the data integrity components, and the Business Intelligence solutions that make SQL Server an attractive solution to many people — DBAs and business users alike.


If you’re reading this book, then chances are you’re responsible for managing a SQL Server 2008 system, or you will be. Several years ago, when I worked for a training company in Seattle, I would find that students would usually (although not always) fit into one of three categories. The most common was IT administrators who have ‘‘inherited’’ a SQL Server. Typically, this would be a new server that was required by a new application or service the business was implementing. These students would have a good working knowledge of Windows system management, but were new to SQL. If you find that you fit in this category, this book is for you.


Another type of student I frequently saw was the developer who was involved in a project that used a SQL Server database for storing application data. These developers understood how the data needed to be stored, but were responsible for configuring and managing the development and test environments. Often, they would have limited (if any) knowledge of systems administration, but they knew what they were trying to accomplish. If you’re one of these developers, this book is for you.


A third category of students I sometimes saw, although admittedly less frequently than the first two, were experienced DBAs who were familiar with Oracle, or other database technology, who needed to know how things worked in the Microsoft realm. Although there may be a difference in terminology or implementation, for the most part, the core technology is pretty standard. If you have experience with other database applications and are looking to get a better understanding of how Microsoft SQL Server 2008 can meet your needs, this book is for you.


Some of you may not fit into any of these categories, or you may fit into more than one. Whatever your intent for reading this book is, the subject matter is the same. This book, as the title suggests, is all about database administration. But what is database administration? Database administrators are more and more often being called on to perform duties that are not strictly ‘‘administrative’’ in nature. Along with typical administrative duties such as backups, database maintenance, and user management, database administrators are increasingly being asked to perform tasks such as building complex data transformations for data import, building distributed data solutions, and maintaining the security and integrity of the database while enabling the integration of managed-code into the Database Engine.


In a nutshell, for many organizations, the database administrator has become the one-stop shop for all things related to data storage. This makes the job of being a database administrator much more complicated and difficult than in the past because of the scope and power of each subsequent release.


As a result of the database administrator’s increasingly broadening role in the enterprise, it is impossible for one book to adequately cover every facet of this critical skill set. This book lays the foundation by covering in detail the most common database administrative tasks. It will also introduce you to many of the more advanced areas that enterprise database administrators need to be familiar with. Read these pages carefully, and apply what you learn. From here, move on to more complex jobs and tasks. The opportunities for talented and hard-working database administrators are virtually unlimited.


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