SQL Server 2005 Readiness remains the theme, as we continue with Part II of our exclusive interview with Raj Gill, CTO and co-founder of Scalability Experts. ( If you haven't read the first part, click Part I, to find out what's been happening at the Roadshows, and, to learn about the man, the message and the mission to deploy SQL2K5 to sql and non-sql users alike.)
Today, we talk about the evolving role of the DBA, how SQL2K5 will redefine the business intelligence platform in the enterprise, some of its top features, 64-bits of SQL, SOX, and the soon to be released book that talks about much of the above, Changing the Paradigm - an in-depth look into the new features and core functionality of SQL2K5. (We'll show you how and where to get your copy of this must-have reference guide.)
RP: What do you think the future of the SQL Server DBA holds? How will the role evolve, and what advice can you give on keeping the DBA a company asset?
RG: SQL Server's philosophy has always been to free the DBA from mundane tasks such as statistic gathering and general performance tuning. DBAs also have a unique insight into the engine that powers their company, but few companies leverage this resource. In the future, I see DBAs taking on a more strategic role in planning to improve operational efficiency, helping corporate planners strategize on new business opportunities, and assisting in out maneuvering the competition by providing better customer service at a lower cost.
RP: Which camp do you fall in with respect to the future of the production DBA?
RG: The production DBA role will change. The person filling this role will become more business-centric than technology-centric as the position will demand more business value. A DBA will continue to play an important role, since the DBA guards the organization's second most valuable asset, information.
RP: What do you see as the biggest challenges to companies that are considering upgrading to SQL2K5? How will the migration to SQL2K5 differ from prior version upgrades?
RG: There are a number of new features and significant enhancements to existing features in SQL Server 2005. One of the challenges that we are already seeing is a lack of understanding of the true capabilities of the new features in remedying business challenges. This lack of understanding can impact a SQL Server 2005 implementation from a management and resource perspective. For example, the new security model provides very powerful lock-down capabilities out of the box, but without a strong understanding of this security model, users may not benefit from these enhancements.
RP: How soon after it’s released do you think clients will adapt SQL2K5 and will become the standard SQL platform? 64-bit?
RG:We believe that the basic adoption of SQL Server 2005 will be rapid and widespread. This is partly due to the fact that the product has been anticipated for a while, and that the intermediate builds have been publicly available for some time. We also think that users will take time to learn and understand some of the more advanced features offered, such as partitioning and database snapshots.
As for 64-bit, anyone planning a scheduled hardware upgrade should give serious consideration to the 64-bit platform. In a few years, you will probably hard pressed to find new server systems that aren't 64-bit.
RP: Let’s talk a little bit about more 64-bit sql server. Do you think 64-bit platform will become norm for SQL Server 2005 deployment?
RG: According to industry experts all of Intel and AMD's server processors will be 64-bit enabled, either natively or with 64-bit extensions by the end of this year. Considering the benefits that SQL Server 2005 64-bit brings to the customers, I think that that the 64-bit platform will become the norm for SQL Server 2005 deployments. By raising the limitations associated with the 32-bit platform, you have the opportunity to upgrade to a highly scalable, consolidated environment.
Want to learn a bit more on 64-bit SQL Server? See my article by the same name, "A Bit About 64-bit"
RP: Does SQL Server 2005 offer any capabilities to assist in Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance?
RG: Security has been greatly enhanced in SQL Server 2005. Features such as the new SQL Profiler auditing events, DDL triggers and events notifications, granular permission control, cryptography support, Surface Area Configuration tool, metadata security, off by default (xp_cmdshell, and so on), are some examples of capabilities that can ease the administrative pains of SOX compliance. DBAs can leverage the T-SQL enhancements to efficiently get the information required for SOX documentation. SQL Server 2005 strengthens the SQL authentication and introduces support for password policies, expiration, and account lockout. The new endpoint-based authentication simplifies management of SQL Server 2005 entry points. The Visual SourceSafe integration facilitates change control and tracking. Lastly, the updates SQL Server 2005 toolset aids in proactive performance and capacity monitoring. In summary, SQL Server 2005 security features facilitate preventing unauthorized, untraceable changes to the source data.
RP: We’ve heard for many years that each year is the year for BI. It's finally catching on, it's growing, more companies are implementing it, etc. Yet I still don't know many people that are really using Analysis Services very much. Why do you think more companies have not been using it – especially if its free w/MSSQL?
RG: I don't believe that Analysis Services adoption has been slow in the business intelligence arena. The following chart from The OLAP Report (www.olapreport.com, a vendor-agnostic organization) confirms to my belief. It shows that Analysis Services is already a market leader in OLAP market share and it will continue to be the leader with SQL Server 2005.
SQL Server 2005 revolutionizes and redefines the business intelligence platform by introducing completely redesigned ETL and integration platform known as SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS; formerly known as DTS), and it adds several new features to Analysis Services 2005 by introducing new data mining models, a Web-based reporting solution, and integrated management and development tools. The main theme of business intelligence in SQL Server 2005 is integrate, analyze, and report: You use SSIS for integration, Analysis Services 2005 and Data Mining for analyzing, and Reporting Services and Report Builder for presentation and delivery of reports.
Read "SQL Server 2005: The BI Release" for more details.
And, for a comprehensive look into AS2K5 and BI in the enterprise, read my article, "Analysis Services 2005, the Year of BI"
RP: Do you think it’s a smart marketing tactic to show SQL Server as the one-stop do-it-all platform as an end-to-end business intelligence tool?
RG: Absolutely! BI is one of the areas where Microsoft has an edge over its competition, feature-wise and TCO-wise.
RP: What are some of the top features in SQL Server 2005?
RG: Here are some of the top new/updated features in SQL Server 2005:
- The redefined business intelligence platform, which includes the new SSIS integration platform, upgraded Analysis Services functionality, enhanced Reporting Services and Report Builder, and the new data mining models.
- Database Mirroring for high-availability and table partitioning for manageability.
- Service Broker for asynchronous messaging.
- The CLR integration, which allows .NET languages to be used for writing modules or creating types.
- XML and Web services support
- Redesigned toolset (SQL Server Management Studio, SQL Server Configuration Manager, Database Engine Tuning Advisor, and so on), new tools (Surface Area Configuration, Upgrade Advisor, and so on), and new APIs (SMO, AMO, WMI, and so on).
- Metadata security, user-schema separation, granular permission control, cryptography support, and impersonation.
- SQLCMD for those who love scripting
More details at http://www.microsoft.com/sql/2005/productinfo/top30features.mspx
If you're interested in attending a free, half-day event, you'll learn how to leverage SQL Server 2005's new capabilities to best support your business initiatives. The presentation will be given by colleague and SQL compatriot, Joe Young, Chief Architect for Scalability Experts.
You'll discover what enhancements and improvements have been made to the relational engine and business intelligence platform in Microsoft SQL Server 2005. You'll better understand SQL Server 2005's architectural enhancements in the relational and analytical engines. And you'll learn about deploying Intel-based 32-bit and 64-bit Unisys server technology for mission-critical, large-scale, enterprise SQL Server 2005 applications.
For more information and how to register for this event, go to: http://www.windowsitpro.com/roadshows/sqlserverdba/index.cfm?code=0830winevents
RP: According to you, what is one or two gotchas in SQL Server 2005 that users should know about?
RG: I think metadata security and user-schema separation are two new features that may have the most impact on existing applications. In SQL Server 2005, system tables are no longer used and the metadata access is permission-based. Additionally the user schema has changes from server.database.user.object to server.database.schema.object in SQL Server 2005. The Upgrade Advisor tool can aid in detecting and resolving such issues while upgrading to SQL Server 2005.
RP: Tell us about your book, what its focus is, and when it will be out, and where we can order it?
RG: Microsoft SQL Server 2005: Changing the Paradigm (ISBN 0672327783) is a collaborative effort of Scalability Experts consultants, and is being published by Sams (Pearson Education). The book will be released on September 2, 2005, but can be pre-ordered on Web sites such as Amazon, B&N, BookPool, SamsPublishing.com, and so on.
This book is the definitive reference for understanding core functionality and new features of SQL Server 2005. This practical and in-depth guide is packed full of technical details, code samples, and best practices to help you maximize the performance and productivity of the premier relational database management system.
This powerhouse reference covers the entire breadth of SQL Server 2005 features including XML, SOA, .NET, business intelligence, administration, scalability, reliability, security, performance, and high-availability. The book opens by providing an overview of the paradigm shift across the database industry introduced by SQL Server 2005 that redefines the roles and responsibilities of DBAs. From there, the book proceeds chronologically through every key innovation and feature introduced by SQL Server 2005, its significance to both users and administrators and the philosophy behind the design decisions. Although designed as a comprehensive survey of the SQL Server 2005 platform, this book's individual chapters are also well suited for quick look-up of specific information.
RP: On the RoadShow are you seeing non-SQL Server customers who are interested in migrating to SQL Server 2005?
RG: Most definitely! I think that there are many soon-to-be SQL Server customers that are anticipating this new release. Microsoft has also been getting ready for expected onslaught of migrations. Recently Scalability Experts has been involved in writing a migration solution guide for Microsoft. We've also been working on the SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) training classes. SSMA is a software tool that greatly eases the work involved in an Oracle to SQL Server migration.
End Part II.
So, do you think you are you ready? Why not take the challenge and see how you score on the topic of High Availability, one of the super administration sessions presented by Raj and his team. Click the link above for the True/False quiz.
I hope that this interview was informative as well as enjoyable, and helps in getting the message out that SQL2K5 is no longer just a database platform, and will revolutionize BI in the industry.
I want to personally thank Raj for the time and effort he put in to answering these questions with such thoroughness, and sharing his thoughts with us.
The great release of 2005 is now right around the corner. Let the countdown begin!