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Test Center: Deep dive into SQL Server 2008

Sean McCown | Nov. 5, 2008
The best SQL Server release to date, it sports more nice new features than you can count

Second, unlike SQL Server, the third-party backup solutions have object-level restore, which can come in very handy in a number of situations. If you go with SQL Server's Backup Compression for your enterprise servers, you're losing functionality.

Third, the third-party solutions have centralized repositories and provide centralized reporting and alerting. So if you use SQL Server's native compression, you've effectively eliminated centralized management of backups for those boxes.

There are other features that third-party backup solutions bring to the table, but incomplete coverage, object-level restore, and centralized backup management are the biggest reasons that SQL Server's Backup Compression isn't going to be viable for most shops.

Index improvements

Indexes have received an overhaul. Not only can indexes be compressed in SQL Server 2008, but you can also build filtered indexes. Filtered indexes have a "where" clause, allowing you to partially index a large table. This may not seem very useful at first, but there are situations where it's very beneficial.

For example, let's look at a Sparse Column situation. Say you have 400 million records in a table with a significant number of null values, and you've defined a Sparse Column, so you're not taking up space for all of those nulls. Well, if you don't want to take up storage space with null values, then you surely don't want to take up index space with them either. Here you would define a filtered index on that sparse column where the value is not null so that only rows with actual data in them are indexed.

Not only can you save a lot of index space with filtered indexes, but the queries that use those indexes will be faster because they're running against a subset of the entire data set. You also shrink the maintenance window and re-index space for the index.

Another good use of filtered indexes might be if you have, say, ten years of data in a table but nobody ever queries further than two years back. You could create a filtered index for just those two years and get the same benefits as in the first scenario.

SQL Server Reporting Services

SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services) has received a major overhaul. For starters, it no longer relies on IIS for its report server capabilities. This is a huge leap forward for SSRS shops because as I've found many times, it can be difficult to get approval for Windows changes, such as installing IIS. Often, these shops don't like to make major changes to a Windows install, and adding a component such as IIS, which is perceived to be difficult to secure, makes them doubly hesitant; not requiring IIS is a good thing.

 

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