If you haven't done much yet with SQL Server 2005, the time has come. It has been six months now since Microsoft released the new DBMS to manufacturing (RTM), and a month since it released its first service pack -- yet many people haven't taken the time to prepare or even think about the upgrade process.
In the following two checklists, I'll help you get started. You must first learn about new features and then plan your upgrade approach.
The first part of this two-part checklist below -- learning about SQL Server 2005 -- will help you get up to speed on SQL Server 2005 features. The next part will provide you with key considerations for making the move from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005.
Use online resources
When SQL Server was released in November, there were a few good white papers, articles, tips and forum entries on the Internet, but the number of such resources has grown significantly. People are beginning to implement and use SQL Server 2005, so more and more things are being uncovered and written about on a daily basis. Take a look at SQL Server Web sites (including this one) and you will see an ever-growing amount of SQL Server 2005 information -- and most of it is free. Plan to read at least one article each day.
The number of books about SQL Server 2005 has also increased. I recently did a quick search on Amazon.com and came up with 94 different titles. Most of the main topics have been covered, so if you are getting started, there are definitely books out there for you.
That said, I have never been a big fan of reading a technical book from cover to cover; I use them mostly as technical resources rather than learning guides, referring to them as needed to find a particular piece of information. I wouldn't use them for heavy reading if you are new to SQL Server 2005 -- unless of course you really love long technical books.
Invest in classroom or online/computer training
This is another area where there are more classroom and online training materials available. Take a look at what is available in your area, or use online or computer training.
The one drawback to this approach is that it costs money. Some companies have money set aside for training, but training budgets are typically pretty low or nonexistent. The benefit to this approach is that you receive hands-on experience, dedicated time for learning and exposure to a lot of the DBMS all at once. But when training bombards you with so much at once, make sure you have a plan to begin using what you learn immediately -- or else your effort will be wasted.
Attend user groups, seminars and conferences
More information is now covered at different events hosted around the country and overseas. Microsoft has done a great job of pushing SQL Server 2005 out to the community. However, much of what was done in the beginning involved marketing hype rather than real-life examples of how to easily migrate and use some of the new features.I think this is beginning to change as people use SQL Server 2005 and see the benefits. Most user group events and seminars are free, so take a look at what is in your area.
Download trial software
This is one of the easiest things to do and the hands-on experience will get you further than most of the above options. As with previous SQL Server versions, Microsoft offers a fully functioning trial version of the software. You can load all the components right on your desktop, familiarize yourself with the new interface and features and formulate a plan. The server install is still pretty straightforward, but the management environment is totally different.
If you haven't done so already, you should download Microsoft's evaluation copy of SQL Server 2005.
For the next part, go to:
Checklist: Planning your upgrade to SQL Server 2005
SQL Server Checklists offer you step-by-step advice for administering, tuning and managing your SQL Servers. E-mail the editor to suggest additional checklist topics.
About the author: Greg Robidoux is the president and founder of Edgewood Solutions LLC, a technology services company delivering professional services and product solutions for Microsoft SQL Server. He has authored numerous articles and has delivered presentations at regional SQL Server users' groups and national SQL Server events. Robidoux, who also serves as the SearchSQLServer.com Backup and Recovery expert, welcomes your questions.