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Microsoft offers free Yukon samples

Microsoft today announced the availability of its Best Practices Analyzer, a tool that compares your system to others using proven best practices.

Microsoft has released the full version of its Best Practices Analyzer for DBAs, and unveiled several new features of its newest SQL Server release, code-named Yukon.

The SQL Server announcements were released this morning at TechEd 2004, Microsoft's annual user conference being held this week in San Diego.

We're trying to build the Ferrari of encryption.
Tom Rizzo
SQL Server product managerMicrosoft

The Best Practices Analyzer, a tool that checks SQL Server systems against implementations relying on best practices, has been available in beta version since November. A full version of the tool is now available for free download.

The tool has a graphical interface, but can also be run on the command line, said Kirsten Ward, SQL Server 2000 senior project manager. The tool was developed using feedback from clients who tested using a similar tool for security best practices, Ward said.

"We had a great response from customers using our security analyzer tool for compliance with security practices, and they said they wanted more," Ward said. "This new tool highlights areas where they aren't meeting compliance with the best practices out there for database design, backup and performance."

The tool also includes a series of system checks to help customers prepare for SQL Server 2005.

For more information

Securing SQL Server

SQL Server basics

Microsoft SQL Server

While the Best Practice Analyzer prepares the company for the next release of SQL Server, DBAs have been using it to streamline the database and get the best performance out of the current system, said John Payes, vice president of marketing and corporate development at sales software maker, Dakis Decision Systems Inc., based in Montreal.

"The Best Practice Analyzer guaranteed within our company that the data is there, at our fingertips, and the data can be accessed flawlessly," Payes said.

Microsoft is also releasing free Upgrade Advisor software, which analyzes the SQL Server database and gives recommendations on how to prepare it for a smooth transition to Yukon.

The second beta release of Yukon,will be released in several weeks, said Tom Rizzo, SQL Server product manager. A third beta will be released in the second half of the year, with a full product rollout slated for early 2005, Rizzo said.

Rizzo said Microsoft is working maximize the security capabilities in Yukon. The next version of SQL Server will support native data encryption to protect corporate data and limit unauthorized access to data files, he said.

While encryption capabilities are limited in SQL Server 2000, the Yukon version will have it written directly into the database, Rizzo said.

"We're trying to build the Ferrari of encryption," Rizzo said. "We have been very conscientious to boost the security capabilities in SQL Server 2005."

Rizzo said Microsoft is planning to subject SQL Server 2005 through Common Criteria Certification, a stringent government program that certifies software based on specific security and documentation guidelines.

Microsoft must stress security as it releases beta versions of Yukon, said Noel Yuhanna, a senior industry analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research. Security is concern among all DBMS vendors, Yuhanna said.

"Security has been a big concern for enterprises as they are trying to protect their critical data," Yuhanna said.

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Improve the data-warehousing features that Microsoft introduced in SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 7.0 and move these features into the Yukon release Will support an object  oriented programming interface that will probably fit within the .NET framework for developers self-management to enhance SQL Server's ability to tune itself and fix problems automatically