In addition to CTP3 of SQL Server code name “Denali”, Microsoft has also released a feature pack (http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=26726) that is full of useful tools that work with CTP3. Some of the features I find most exciting in the feature pack:
- Master Data Services Add-in for Excel – this add-in allows multiple users to concurrently work on the master data via Excel, and click to publish back to the MDS database – all without worrying about the data integrity. One of the big wins here is that IT resources don’t have to be consumed with scrubbing data. Instead, the data owners can work to find the problems and fix them.
- Report Builder – this is a report-authoring tool designed for the more technical user, and leverages the functionality of reporting services.
- Microsoft System CLR data types – this is a package that allows applications to use the SQL Server “Denali” geometry, geography and hierarchy ID types outside of SQL Server. If you are an application developer and are interested in these new features, you will probably be excited about this package.
- Books Online – the revised “Denali” books online contains the new features of Denali, so even if you are not ready to install Denali, BOL can help you get up-to-speed on some of the changes in this release.
- “Denali” upgrade advisor – No matter what version you are currently using, you should always run the upgrade advisor to prepare for the next SQL Server version. Run this now on your existing databases to begin making any necessary changes prior to RTM. By doing this now, you will be ready when Denali is released.
- Service Broker External Activator – The Service Broker External Activator allows you to take code that uses service broker and move the processing logic to an application outside of SQL Server. This makes so much sense and is what we have done for years with the N-tier architecture forward. Now you can move CPU intensive or long-running tasks outside of SQL Server and put them on a different server and even running them under a different security context, while keeping the functionality of Service Broker. This is an incredible addition to the product!
- PowerShell Extensions – if you haven’t figured out by now, PowerShell is the wave of the future – and the present. If you would like to build powerful scripts or full featured applications to manage SQL Server, the PowerShell Extensions cmdlets will allow you to do that.
- Shared Management Objects (SMO) – if you have current applications that use SMO, you will want to integrate this new object model into your code so that you can take advantage of SQL Server “Denali”.
- …and more. I have highlighted the features that excite me the most, but your environment may be very different and you may be excited about some of the other aspects of this feature pack.