I returned from TechEd IT Pro Week with a lot of feedback from our customers, everyone seemed genuinely excited about the SQL Server 2008 release.   While I spent most of my time at the booth last week fielding questions from DBAs and system administrators that stopped by, I did get a chance to attend a couple sessions and to walk around the partner booths to look at some of the new products they are releasing this year.

From my discussions last week there were a few questions or themes for DBAs that were asked with some frequency:

- We are migrating from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005, should we just move to SQL Server 2008?   Do you have to upgrade to SQL Server 2005 before you upgrade to SQL Server 2008?

- What is best way to communicate with SAN manager the requirements / sizing for my SQL Server deployment?

- Windows 2008 Clustering supports clusters across separate subnets, is that supported by SQL Server 2008?

- What's new in SQL Server 2008?

Let's take each one by one,

Migration and Upgrade:
For those customers that already had migrations underway, we recommended that they complete their migration.  For upcoming upgrades and migrations, SQL Server 2008's setup will upgrade a SQL Server 2000 install, so it is not required to install SQL Server 2005 before installing SQL Server 2008.  

SAN Manager and DBA interactions:
This was definitely a recurring theme at the show.   We need to do a better job in providing DBAs the tools and guidance they need to communicate effectively with the SAN manager the requirements in terms of Storage SLAs for their database workloads.   SAN managers typically follow the vendor recommendations and typically prefer to have a smaller # of storage pools / classes of storage, this leaves the DBA with very little visibility and control over the type of storage for the database and log files.   This was one item I took back to Redmond with me as homework, to work with our partners to help bridge this gap.   That said here are some points of guidance (mileage will vary) based on the conversations from last week: 

Please also refer to the "Storage Top 10 Best Practices" from the TechNet web site: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/sql/bestpractice/storage-top-10.mspx

Clustering across separate subnets:
Windows 2008 introduced the capability of placing clustered servers on different subnets which reduces the requirements for geographically dispersed clusters.  Unfortunately, SQL Server 2008 does not yet support this capability.

What's New in SQL Server 2008:
A lot... Policy Based Management, Audit, Resource Governor, Transparent Data Encryption, External Key Management, Compression, Spatial Data Types, Hierarchy datatype, FILESTREAM, new Full Text Search, new Date and Time datatypes, Query performance improvements for star joins, Filtered Indexes, Backup Compression, MERGE statement (very cool!), and much much more. http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/overview.aspx

In my next blog I will write about some of the very exciting product demos I saw from Idera, Red-Gate and Quest while at the conference.

Olivier