Will SQL Server 2008 Slip Again?

Microsoft's announcement that it will release SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 3 (SP3) this summer raises the question: What's the status of SQL Server 2008?

Officially, it's still on track to be released to manufacturing (RTM) in the third quarter, and Microsoft officials say nothing has changed on that front. But some say they won't be surprised if the RTM actually slips again into the fourth quarter.

"The rumors I hear still say August or September," said Andrew Brust, when he was posed the question at last month's NYC .NET User Group meeting in New York. Brust is chief of new technology at twentysix New York and founder of the NYC .NET User Group. But, he added, "my gut [feeling], just judging by the stability of the latest CTP, is that it's going to get pushed back another quarter."

Brust is the author of "Programming Microsoft SQL Server 2005" (Microsoft Press, 2006), and is currently writing the sequel "Programming Microsoft SQL Sever 2008" with his colleague Leonard Lobel.

"It's all just gut and feel, [but] I do think they'll make it out this year. The name compels them to do so," Brust told the group of about 100 developers.

Too Buggy for Beta?
Feeding the speculation that SQL Server 2008 may slip is the number of bugs that still exist and the time developers need to test some of the new features that are slowly being added to the community technology previews (CTPs), says Joshua Jones, principal of Denver-based Consortio Services LLC, in an e-mail.

"If we can't thoroughly test the features, a lot of us are going to be reluctant to endorse the features or implement the features in our own environments," Jones says.

"Additionally, there have been plenty of bugs and a lack of documentation around some new features that make us think we might be running into potential show-stoppers," he adds. "Of course they could, at the last minute, remove 'incomplete' features from the RTM and make them available in SP1 for SQL 2008, a la database mirroring in SQL 2005."

Francois Ajenstat, Microsoft's director of SQL Server marketing, didn't respond to an e-mail. But a Microsoft spokesperson says SQL Server 2008 is scheduled to RTM in the third quarter, and says to report any bugs so they can be fixed.

Worth the Wait
Brust told developers not to get too upset if it does actually slip.

"They need to be real careful about this," he said. "It's not a major, major update in terms of the developer features but there are a lot of data warehouse features and optimizations to make it work faster, and if those things only work most of the time we'll have a disaster. I think it's normal and a good thing for the database to suffer a few intermediate setbacks, so don't get upset about it."

Meanwhile, Jones welcomes the news that there will be a SQL Server 2005 SP3.

"Of course, there's not much detail about what will be in the SP, but I think this is a huge step in maintaining good standing with customers," Jones writes in his blog.

"While many people jumped at the chance to go from SQL Server 2000 to 2005, the jump to 2008 will be a little more hesitant, mostly because of the difficulty in moving database platforms in production environments," he continues. "Hopefully, this SP will give people a 'longer life' in SQL 2005, while giving them the opportunity to more carefully evaluate SQL Server 2008."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of and news editor of Visual Studio Magazine.