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SQL Server 2012 release approaches -- what you need to know

Microsoft will soon come out with the long-awaited SQL Server 2012 release, but will your system be ready to take full advantage of the new version, also known as Microsoft Denali? Find out.

SQL Server 2012, known for more than a year as Microsoft Denali, its towering code name, is on its way. Whether you plan to upgrade an existing SQL Server instance to 2012 or implement a new instance, you should know what to expect in terms of prerequisite software, changes to the editions available in 2012 and the components it will include. That way, you can be better prepared to implement the SQL Server 2012 release.

Prerequisite software for Microsoft Denali
The first item you’ll want to check is .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack (SP) 1. For Windows Vista SP2 or Windows Server 2008 SP2 systems, download and install the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1. If you’re running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, you must enable the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 with Windows PowerShell or the Add Features functionality for that operating system (OS). If you’ve already installed or enabled the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, make sure all current updates have been installed.

You’ll also need .NET Framework 4 before you can install SQL Server 2012; however, SQL Server Setup will install it as part of the process. The only exception to this is when you install SQL Server Express on a Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Server Core system. In this case, you must install the .NET Framework 4 before running SQL Server Setup.

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In addition to the two versions of the .NET Framework, SQL Server 2012 also requires Windows PowerShell 2.0. However, unlike previous versions of the database, Setup doesn’t install or enable PowerShell. You must install it before installing SQL Server.

Finally, to support several of the management tools in SQL Server 2012, you must be running Internet Explorer 7.

Components of SQL Server 2012
Most SQL Server 2012 editions should look familiar: Enterprise, Standard, Web, Developer and Express, all available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. However, what you’ll discover when you install SQL Server is that the Data Center edition, introduced in SQL Server 2008 R2, is no longer available. In its place is the Business Intelligence edition, which supports business intelligence (BI) solutions through features such as browser-based data access, visualization and mashup -- combining and presenting data from two or more sources.

SQL Server 2012 also includes many of the components you’ve become familiar with in earlier versions: the database engine, Analysis Services, Reporting Services and Integration Services. Two other components are now available as part of the SQL Server 2012 installation: Master Data Services and Data Quality Services.

Master Data Services, introduced with SQL Server 2008 R2, captures, organizes and standardizes master data in order to centrally manage the data and support analytical and operational systems. Master Data Services also helps to enforce compliance requirements and establish business processes that are auditable and repeatable. Before SQL Server 2012, you had to install Master Data Services in a separate process, but now you can choose this server component when running Setup.

SQL Server Setup also gives you the option of installing Data Quality Services, which lets data stewards to cleanse, match and profile data as well as manage the integrity and quality of the data sources. However, setting up this service is not as straightforward as some other ones. You must ensure that Data Quality Services is selected as one of the Data Engine Services options and that the Data Quality Client is included in the installation. After you run SQL Server Setup, run the DQSInstaller.exe file to complete the installation.

In SQL Server 2012, you’ll also find many of the management tools you’ve come to expect with SQL Server: Management Studio, Configuration Manager, Profiler and Database Engine Tuning Advisor. SQL Server 2012 includes SQL Server Books Online as well as the connectivity tools necessary to communicate with various clients.

Another tool available in SQL Server 2012 is SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), which replaces Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS). SSDT is an integrated development environment that lets you build BI projects for Analysis Services, Reporting Services and Integration Services, as you could in BIDS. But SSDT also includes Database Projects, which provides an integrated platform that extends the capabilities of database development.

Finally, a handy new feature is Project Update, which integrates the setup installation process with the latest product updates so that all the pieces are installed at the same time. Combined with the new and updated features in SQL Server 2012, this should help to make your move to the new platform smoother and your time more productive.

Getting ready for the SQL Server 2012 release
Before you move to SQL Server 2012, decide which OS will host it. Your options will depend on the edition you’re implementing. For details about the operating systems supported for each SQL Server edition, see “Hardware and Software Requirements for Installing SQL Server 2012” in SQL Server Books Online. If you’re upgrading an existing SQL Server instance to 2012, use the Upgrade Advisor to analyze the installed components and identify any issues. As with any product about to be released, available editions, supported components, prerequisite software and setup instructions can change, so verify these details before installing the product. The more you know ahead of time, the better your installation of the SQL Server 2012 release will go.

Robert Sheldon is a technical consultant and the author of numerous books, articles and training materials related to Microsoft Windows, various relational database management systems, and business intelligence design and implementation. Check out his blog, Slipstream.

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