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Yukon Delayed Again and Named

By Brian Knight,

As you may've already suspected, Microsoft confirmed today that the next release of SQL Server, code named "Yukon", has been delayed yet again into 2005. The previous announcement had Yukon being released the later part of 2004. With Beta 2 still be needing to be released before then, the math didn't quite add up though for a 2004 GA release. Also announced today was that Yukon will officially be called SQL Server 2005 upon its release. The next release of Visual Studio, code named Whidbey, will also have the 2005 branding with Visual Studio 2005.

The timeline now for Yukon has the final release being pushed into the first half of 2005. Beta 2 will be released the first half of 2004 (probably late spring to early summer timeframe). Lastly, Microsoft has added a final beta to the schedule to be released the second half of 2004. The final beta is a final stab to stabilize the product before it’s released to market. In that beta, Microsoft has signed up 15 clients across each major vertical to install the beta in production.

Those of you that have tried out Beta 1 may've seen enough to get a general understanding of the product but you were probably left disappointed with the constant “Not Implemented Yet” messages. By Beta 2, the features will have a major overhaul, fixing those messages and providing a good look of the final features. Microsoft will then gather customer feedback to finalize Beta 3.

The delay is potentially having affects on companies who purchased the Microsoft Software Assurance program. If you look at upgrade costs solely, a customer typically breaks even in the deal if they upgrade at least every 3-4 years. With this release of SQL Server pushing 5 years, customers may begin to cancel their Software Assurance deals. Generally though, these deals offer much more than just software upgrades, including training, extended warranties, development tools and priority support.

Also looming is the announced end of mainstream support of SQL Server 2000, which will end on December 31st 2005. If SQL Server 2005 doesn’t release until the second quarter of 2005, this may only give a customer 6 months to upgrade their database environment before facing a support problem. Typically Microsoft has extended this end of mainstream support date in events like this in the past and you may see this announcement coming soon.


Now that the news is out of the way I can take off that hat and editorialize a bit. I see the delay as both a good thing and bad thing for consumers. I’m personally very anxious about utilizing the new Business Intelligence tools and DTS. From the DBA perspective, I have a lot of need for database mirroring, which is like log shipping on steroids and online restores. Even though I’m anxious for these features, I don’t want to wait until SP2 of SQL Server 2005 to see these stabilized. I’d much rather have them stable in the first build, much like Windows 2003 was released. If it takes until 2005 to really stabilize and secure the product, then so be it but an unstable SQL Server 2005 would create some very irate customers who would immediately stop deployment in production and consider conversions to another DBMS.

Upgrading a database environment is not a fun project. There must be a pressing need to go to a new release. You must check every area of your application to make sure that the upgrade doesn’t cause any regressions and you must upgrade (in my case) hundreds of SQL Servers. When I upgrade my environment, I want to make sure it’s for a good reason and there’s something very compelling. For that reason, I’m glad I won’t have to go through that political mess in a 2 year cycle anymore.

Not to contradict myself though, it would’ve been nice to see minor upgrades of the toolset, like DTS. Microsoft has thrown us a few bones with Reporting Services and Notification Services. It would be nice to see an interim release of something like DTS though to help me scale my current ETL projects past their bottlenecks.

Put yourself in the bread-and-butter customer’s shoes of Microsoft for a brief moment. All that customer cares about is getting a cheap database that can run his CRM or website on. He doesn’t need all the features that even SQL Server 2000 offers. If you were Microsoft, how can you make that customer upgrade to a new release? An interim release isn’t going to cut it. You really have to go for the “all guns a blazing” approach of upgrades and really innovate, making that small business operate cheaper. That’s the real reason Microsoft is running late. It takes a lot of new features to develop and stabilize to make that little guy make the painful decision to spend the little money they have on a new release of a database server. Additionally, you’ll need those features that the little guy doesn’t need to satisfy the big enterprises.

What do you think?

To see a list of the current top 30 features, go to : http://www.microsoft.com/sql/yukon/productinfo/top30features.asp. What features are important to you or would make you upgrade? Let Microsoft know by clicking Your Opinion below and Microsoft will be watching the thread for opinions.



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