SQL Server 2008 SP3 and HP Database Enterprise Appliance

A recent post on Microsoft’s SQL Server Team Blog officially announced the availability of SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3 (SP3). The release comes approximately one year after SP2, and it offers various improvements that were made specifically in response to customer feedback.

The list of updated features begins with an overall improved upgrading experience from SQL Server’s older versions to the latest SQL Server 2008 SP3 edition.  Microsoft has implemented measures that provide enhanced performance and reliability while making the upgrade as well.  Logs in SQL Server Integration Services will display the aggregate number of rows transmitted in Data Flows, and enabling the Shrink Database option will produce enhanced warning messages when maintenance plan development takes place. 

Microsoft’s blog post continues with the list of SP3 upgrades, noting that users should see improvements when using Sequence Functions in a Parallel execution plan.  Query outcomes are optimized when the indexed Spatial Data Type column is referenced by the Database Tuning Advisor too.  Lastly, SP3 includes a fix to a recurring database problem when transparent data encryption is enabled and now supplies availability should the certificate be dropped.

You can download SQL Server 2008 SP3 in its standard or Express version plus its Feature Pack via the Microsoft Download Center.  The Feature Pack is described as a set of standalone install packages that enhance the SQL Server 2008 SP3 experience.  Microsoft is offering the upgrades free of charge to its customers.

For more on this topic, visit http://blogs.technet.com/b/dataplatforminsider/archive/2011/10/06/sql-server-2008-sp3-is-now-available.aspx

Microsoft Teams with HP for SQL Server Appliance

Last week’s Microsoft Pass Summit 2011 was the setting for the announcement that Microsoft would team up with HP to release the HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance for SQL Server.  The appliance will become available in November, and it promises to offer the rapid deployment and consolidated management of numerous database instances in a virtualized private cloud environment.

Microsoft touts the HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance as an industry first.  Such a claim comes from the fact that it can use integrated database migration and management tools to supply database consolidation without having to incur any application or database changes.  Customers will be able experience the deployment of new database instances within minutes.  The appliance offers several cost-cutting advantages over more traditional database deployments as well.  In fact, Microsoft stated that the elimination of the need for conventional infrastructure, floor space, high energy usage, and more could translate into a savings of up to 75 percent in operational costs.

Although Microsoft referred to the HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance as the first in its class, it appears to be obvious that it is being released to rival Oracle’s Exadata, a database machine that currently has over 1,000 deployments.  Oracle’s competitors claim that most of Exadata’s deployments have been used for consolidation in transactional environments, but it can also be configured for data warehousing.  According to InformationWeek, “The HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance is essentially the transactional-side counterpart to the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance, which was introduced early this year and runs Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse.”

The HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance will be offered in two configurations to suit varying needs.  The full rack configuration comes equipped with 400 hard drives, a 58 terabyte storage capacity, 192 logical processors, and 2 terabytes of RAM.  A half rack configuration will be available as well.  A host of software will be included in each package, beginning with various configuration, testing, and management tools.  Microsoft will also supply clients with SQL Server Enterprise Edition, Windows Server Datacenter 2008 R2, and Database Consolidation 2012.  Included virtualization templates should help users rapidly deploy database instances of different sizes with ease. 

As for compatibility, Microsoft assured its followers that the appliance will work with SQL versions supported by Hyper-V, both old and new, including next year’s upcoming SQL Server 2012.  Details on pricing have not yet been released.

The Pass Summit 2011 was not used solely as a springboard for Microsoft’s announcement on its upcoming consolidation appliance project with HP, as the company also offered up other SQL-related news.  A Windows-specific distribution of Hadoop will become available in the future, as well as Microsoft’s SQL Azure Hadoop and SQL Azure Federation cloud-based database services.  Both Azure services will reportedly be released before 2012. 

Beyond the announcements of future releases, the immediate availability of a pair of community technology previews (CTP) was also revealed.  First up was the SQL Azure Reporting service that puts Microsoft business intelligence tools in developers’ hands for the creation and deployment of app- or browser-embeddable reports.  The second service revealed, SQL Azure Data Sync, allows users to synchronize both on-premise SQL Server and SQL Azure databases in the cloud.

For more on this topic, visit http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/info_management/231900813

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