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Picking a Branch

Do you know that there are actually two branches of SQL Server 2008 code right now? Actually I would bet there are 3 branches, but we have two publically available branches to choose from:

  • The RTM branch
  • The Service Pack 1 branch

I’ve known this for awhile, but haven’t thought about it. I read a post recently by Glenn Barry, who noted that CU5 for SQL server 2008 had been released. However this is only for RTM. If you have already installed SP1, then you would actually be looking for the CU2 for SQL Server 2008 SP1.

These both contain similar fixes, like this one:

972687 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/972687/ ) FIX: Error message when you restore a SQL Server 2000 database by using SQL Server 2005 Management Studio or SQL Server 2008 Management Studio: "Cannot show requested dialog. Failed to retrieve data for this request (Microsoft.SqlServer.SmoEnum)"

Glenn mentions an interesting item in that mainstream support for SQL Server RTM will end next year, so that you might want to think about SP1. I’m not sure that’s true based on the Product Support page, but it’s hard to read into it. The lifecycle support page also says that support ends 12 months after the next service pack is released. Assuming Release Services sticks to their 1 SP a year and we should see SP2 in the Mar/April timeframe, which would mean that SP1 and SP2 would be supported, RTM phasing out.

I’d recommend that you pick the SP branches and stick with them, keeping fairly current, applying at least one a year. So if you haven’t applied SP1 yet, I’d plan on doing it by the end of Q1 2010.

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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


Posted by Matt Cherwin on 1 December 2009

ISV's are the pain point on this one. I administer one particular 2005 cluster which is kind of a "catch-all" data tier for a wide variety of 3rd-party apps. In practice, this means I'm limited in what SQL (and OS) patch level I can deploy to whatever the slowest vendor will agree to support. I finally managed just a month ago to patch it to SP2 - and SP3 is a non-starter. One particular vendor specifically said they had no plans to support SP3, ever.

Which means my only real option is to spin up a separate instance for that one vendor, with all the associated costs - or to just hope we don't end up in a place where we have to pick between MS supporting us and that vendor supporting us.

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