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K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.

Thoughts on the SQL Server 2008 R2 Press Conference

If you weren't aware, Microsoft held a BI telelconference today which announced the release to manufacturing (RTM) of SQL Server 2008 R2. I traded a few tweets with Buck Woody (blog | twitter) about this and I see Brent Ozar and Denny Cherry have already provided some comments, too. Denny has covered the important technical details, while Brent's post is similar in tone to how this one will be. My comment is that Microsoft has a way to go to catch up with Apply with respect to a product launch. Here's why I said that (and maybe I'll be joining Brent in handing in an MVP award).

Buzzword Bingo

I know it's a media event. But when I see folks dropping off right and left almost immediately after the call has begun, all citing the amount of buzzwords, this isn't a minor problem. When those staying in are shouting "Bingo!" to break up the monotony as we waited on useful information, again, you have a problem. Buzzwords are so overused to virtually have no meaning. And for the techies out there, they make us suspect that the overall conversation/event is going to be more of the same. That's why folks started bailing right away. The buzzwords need to go. Talk in plain language. Give us useful facts. Speak to the abilities in SQL Server 2008 R2 that are new. There's some really good stuff there (see Denny's post). That should have been more emphasized than vapid words which convey nothing.

Don't Resell What An Older Version Already Did

We heard talk about Policy Based Management as if it were a new thing. It's not. It was introduced in SQL Server 2008, so it's not new in R2. If R2 improves on something, say it that plainly. Don't sound as if it's a new feature. There are plenty of new features to talk about already.

Customers Shouldn't Be Marketing

This caught me by surprise. It's one thing to say, "Hey, the product is great. It saved us 25% on the run time." That's factual. That's relevant. It's another thing to start talking in very broad, marketing language about how SQL Server 2008 offers greater efficiencies, etc. And one of the customers started talking in those generalities. If you are going to bring customers on, let them speak to their case study. Let your marketing folks do the market speak.

Customers Shouldn't Throw DBAs Under the Bus...

at a SQL Server teleconference. But that's exactly what one of them did, talking about how the DBA made mistakes which brought down systems. I would have figured for this teleconference, what they were going to say was previously reviewed. So I was quite shocked to hear one of the customers bash the DBA. Look, I get that sometimes we're the Rodney Dangerfields of the IT world. And if you're trying to sell a database product, you should, too. So don't let us get thrown under the bus during your press conference.

But I Can't Download It!

Yeah. Brent already covered this one, so let me just say, "Ditto."

 

EDIT: Fixed the link to Brent's post. Thanks to Jorge Segarra (blog | twitter) for pointing that out.

Comments

Posted by Glenn Berry on 21 April 2010

I agree that the SQL Server 2008 R2 launch has been poorly handled from an information and PR perspective. It was pretty obvious to a lot of people that R2 has been "done" for a while, yet there was no announcement from the SQL Server marketing people about the fact that it was scheduled to RTM on xxxx date (like the Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 team did). Instead, just a combination of silence and conflicting information about the RTM date.

Then, today they announce RTM, but only the trial version is available (no MSDN Subscribers). Why not put the RTM bits up on MSDN Subscribers as soon as possible?

Finally, a conference call that was obviously aimed at press, that is full of buzz words and marketing platitudes as opposed to any useful information.

How hard would it have been to show a couple of crowd pleasing PowerPivot demos?

Posted by Steve Jones on 21 April 2010

I tend to agree with you, but I wasn't surprised by the call. I expected a "press event", not a "technical one."

I think the biggest issue was that they invited the wrong people and then didn't have a call for them.

Posted by Aaron Lowe on 21 April 2010

Totally Agree.  Contrasting these two videos speaks to the issue very well -

www.youtube.com/watch

and

www.youtube.com/watch

One shows passion and excitement for new features, while the other shows an affinity for detached buzzword speak.

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 21 April 2010

Heh, I was having a hard time downloading the press conference and just figured it to be the internet police.  Good to know it is a wide-sweeping problem. - or is it good?

I would have bailed too with buzzword bingo abounding.

Thanks Brian

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 21 April 2010

Mis-read the download bit - sucks to not be able to download R2 yet.

Posted by Dave Jones on 21 April 2010

I am one of the customers that was doing the "buzz word bingo". Microsoft asked me to give a 3-5 minute talk about our installation and how it is going to help our company. It is kind of hard to do that with out using some of the buzz words.  Like Steve, said, this was a press event, not a tech one.

Posted by Hugo Shebbeare on 21 April 2010

Nobody will have to hand in their MVP because they aren't requiring us to tow the company line :)

We are here to give an impartial DBA IT Pro viewpoint, so you are simply doing your job Brian, and our community, and ultimately MSFT, will appreciate real feedback too.  

Posted by K. Brian Kelley on 21 April 2010

Dave, thank you for coming and posting. The buzzword use was mostly by the Microsoft centric speakers. They added little value to the call. I wish they had let you guys talk a bit more about your implementations.

While it was primarily a press conference, put yourself in the shoes of the reporter. Which makes for a better story? I would think customer examples citing features with real gains is more interesting to write about than a bunch of words that amount to, "Hey, we released something we think is cool."

Posted by Dave Jones on 21 April 2010

I agree, I think they could have put a lot more "meat" in and not as much fluff. The other side is we were told before it started not to get very technical because a lot of the callers would not be. Personally, for the audience that it was intended for, it was about right. Maybe a 2nd call in a day or two for the IT crowd would do good as well.

Posted by Dave Jones on 21 April 2010

All that being said, I think this is going to be a nice release. RBS and PowerPivot (cant ever remember if that is one  word or two :)) are a couple of features we are using now that is going to make a big difference for us.

Posted by Anonymous on 22 April 2010

This post was mentioned on Twitter by BrentO: Agree 100%. RT @kbriankelley: New SSC blog post - Thoughts on the SQL Server 2008 R2 Press Conference - http://tinyurl.com/24zkwos

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