Slipstream SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 1

I’ve just been working on a new server build that included SQL 2008.  The customer wanted SQL 2008 (full installation) and SP1 for SQL 2008.  I put both downloaders on the server and went to work.  Firstly, SQL 2008 fought me on this clean W2008 build.  I ended up doing a 3-phase installation of SQL (some components at a time).  Then when I installed SP1 it broke the master database during the upgrade.

I was at my wits end when I remembered I could slipstream or integrate the service pack into the installation media for SQL 2008.  A quick search led to the article I needed.  This page shows you how to slipstream SP1 into SQL 2008.  You then have only one install to do instead of two. 

This sorted out my problem for this server – but it has me worried about other existing SQL 2008 RTM/SP0 installations.

SQL 2008 SP1 Available

Microsoft released for production Service Pack 1 for SQL Server 2008.  It’s recommended that you read the release notes first.  And I’d strongly recommend testing!

Here’s a tip on the testing.  Usually you’re using production systems and have expensive hardware.  Why not perform a P2V conversion (e.g. VMM 2008 and Hyper-V) for the purpose of testing?  You can take a snapshot of the new VM and then apply the service pack.  Your application teams can test the final VM build.  If you need to retest then apply the snapshot to revert to the initial pre-SP state.  It’s a cheap way to do this without impacting production systems.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Web Edition

Lately, I’m dealing with people on a near daily basis trying to help them specify their servers.  One of the common subjects is Microsoft SQL.  Funny, it’s rare I meet people looking for MySQL or Oracle.  Microsoft Ireland’s DPE team must be doing a pretty good job!  Anyway, the big question is “What version and edition of SQL do you need?”.

Version is usually very quick.  If they are working with existing code the answer is usually 2005.  SQL has a much longer support cycle from MS than other products and developers are usually in a comfort zone that they don’t want to leave.  I’m OK with that because it makes sense.  If they’re doing something new or there’s something appealing in SQL 2008 then they go that way.

The difficult bit is the edition of SQL.  I’m in the hosting business so we sell SPLA licenses.  This means were normally dealing with per processor licenses.  The monthly lease price difference between the free SQL Express versus the top end SQL Enterprise is staggering.  Why? There are no users to count for CAL’s so Microsoft compensates by increasing the cost of the per processor license.

So which edition do you go for?  I can’t blame developers for being confused about this because it’s not necessarily simple to compare one edition of SQL to another … and then it changes when you alter the version of SQL.

For SQL 2005 these are your options:

  • SQL Express: Free but most limited in functionality and scalability
  • SQL Workgroup: Pretty cheap.  Has scalability but limited to basic functionality
  • SQL Standard: Getting pricey.  Has most functionality.
  • SQL Enterprise: Most expensive but with all the features.

You can compare the SQL 2005 editions on Microsoft’s site.

Microsoft added an additional SKU with SQL 2008 called SQL Web Edition.  It is very cheap and is intended to run on web servers, e.g. Windows 2008 Web Server edition.

You can learn more about the editions of SQL Server 2008 features comparison on Microsoft’s web site.

My advice is simple.  Start with the cheapest one in your decision making process.  Look through the features.  If there’s something missing then move up the edition table and start again.  When you find an edition that does every thing you need now (and in the near/mid future) then go with that edition.

New SQL Server MP for OpsMgr 2007

Microsoft has released another new update to the SQL management pack for Operations Manager 2007.  The download page says nothing about what is new or fixed.  My advice is simple: steer clear for a while and watch the forums/blogs.  The last time I updated the SQL management pack I had a flood of false alarms due to bugs in the management pack.  Once you’re ready for it, deploy it in a lab and see if you get alerts for no reason.  Then deploy it on live, ideally when things are quiet and with lots of notifications so people are aware there could be critical alerts that are cause by bugs.

I’m not alone when it comes to being critical of the SQL management pack.  The quality control hasn’t been great and it’s very public.

EDIT #1

The OpsMgr bog announced the fixes in this management pack.  These are:

  • "Fixed performance issues caused by excessive CPU utilization and script timeouts from Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) queries in the following management pack discoveries: Discover SQL Server 2005 Database Engines (Windows Server), Discover SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services (Windows Server), Discover SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services (Windows Server), Discover SQL Server 2008 Database Engines (Windows Server), Discover SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services (Windows Server), Discover SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services (Windows Server).
  • Fixed an issue where SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services and Reporting Services discoveries were not reliably discovering these objects on instances of SQL Server that did not have the Database  Engine installed.
  • Removed the hard-coded exception in rules and monitors that prevented the monitoring of the System, Temp, and Master databases.
  • Improved the means by which database discoveries recognize auto growth enabled settings. Database discoveries now recognize both “KB” and “%” growth settings; previously the database discoveries recognized only the “KB” growth setting".
    Corrected typographical errors in product knowledge and improved the quality of the text.

Administering Your Windows Internal Database

Windows Server 2008 includes the Windows Internal Database, a form of SQL 2005 that can be used for limited roles, e.g. ADAM and WSS 3.0 SP1.  Finding out how to manage the WID proved to be a nightmare until I stumbled upon this.  Watch out though, it is missing a backslash ( "" ) at the start of the connection string.  You’ll use the SQL Express Management Studio and that connection string to get a GUI for managing your databases, e.g. detach the Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 SP1 databases, move them and reattach them.
 
EDIT: I though I should put this here, at least for my own notes.  The correct connection string is …
 
 
… if you are managing Windows Internal Database using Management Studio Express.

Microsoft Releases SQL Server 2008

Microsoft released SQL Server 2008 yesterday evening.  This is a big release for MS.  SQL is used in just about everything they release and it’s a focal point for Windows application developers. 

There’s lots of new features which MS has categorised.  I won’t go into them all here.  However, there are some key additions worth looking at.  Modern business and the need for regulators has required MS to add new compliance and security features:

  • Encryption of databases, data files and log files.
  • Extensible key management for 3rd party solutions.
  • Auditing of data usage

If you’re in finance, medical, pharmaceutical, SOX, etc, then you’ll want to look at these features.

Anyone using SQL for a MS application such as Configuration Manager 2007 should wait for official support of those applications.  MS will have to certify the product pairing and may need to release patches for support.