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SQL 2008 Schedule Slippage and SQL 2005 SP3

I've read with interest some of Steve's editorials about SQL 2005 SP3 and in large part agree with him that it's hard to believe they are contemplating no additional service packs beyond #2. I think it's easy to react - or over react - to the news mainly because we never had a reason NOT to expect more service packs (SQL2K is at SP4) and clearly they are still fixing things. I also get that they are a business and building service packs costs time & money, and presents a degree of risk (see the SP2 fiasco). Asking customers to voice their opinions that a SP3 is disingenuous, most customers are using the product and either not seeing some of the pain or are just living with it (knowingly or unknowingly). They could ask the MVP's, or PASS members, or any other group and I suspect few would argue against additional service packs, but if you weigh that head count against the total, it's a very small sample and easy to call them a special interest. Maybe they'll change their minds or maybe not, but I think what we consumers should be doing is voicing clearly our expectations:

  • As long as a product is supported we expect service packs to ship at least every 6 months
  • Make it very easy to see the list of hotfixes and to gain access to them
  • Commit to fixing bugs because you promised features would work. Its fine to prioritize bugs based on severity and audience impact, but you don't get to skip fixing ANY bug. No bug should be open more than a year from date reported
  • We get that products will have bugs, shipping us service packs and hot fixes increases our confidence in the product rather than reducing it

But the same problem applies - how are we going to get that message to MS? Boycott SQL 2008? Switch to MySQL? Here's a time when I wish PASS would take a stand and push on them, but I don't expect that to happen.

Sort of related has been the news that SQL 2008 has slipped until late this year. Again, Steve and others have commented, and I saw this post from Dan Jones that defends the decision to slip. Here's my take:

  • MS, the marketing guys are running the train off the cliff. This combined product launch is a joke, better to have a SQL launch - whenever that is - when the product is shipping
  • We get that things go wrong and no, we don't want you to release a product that is not ready. But products don't slip six months in a day. If they do, you need new management
  • It's not that we're in a hurry for SQL 2008. Looking forward to more features, sure. But many are still digesting SQL 2005 so it's the when that matters, it's that you (MS) are supposed to be the worlds best software developers and it sure doesn't look professional when you can't come close to meeting a schedule. Is it the developers, the sales guys, the marketing guys, all of the above? Don't know and don't really care.
  • MS, I get that it's easy to get defensive, heck I would too! But you don't make money by telling your customers they are wrong. How about some much needed transparency around the schedule and features? How about publishing a burn down chart do we can follow along?

As much as the OS, SQL Server needs to be robust. That's job one. But it's not the ONLY job. I make my living on SQL Server right now, like the product, like the people on the SQL team I've met. But I've got to have confidence in you and be able to talk to my customers about your product openly and proudly, or I might have to find a product that does a better job of it. Get out of Redmond, come spend some time with the user groups and regular people - I think you might learn a lot and find that we want you to win.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


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