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Q&A: What's new in SQL Server 2005 SP1

SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 1 offers DBAs production-ready Database Mirroring, SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence support, Full-Text support and additional features to ease the pains of fully utilizing the new DBMS. We recently asked Microsoft product and program managers to discuss the new features and any relevant issues that arose during the Community Technology Preview. The following is our Q&A interview with Microsoft product and program managers Michael Raheem, Tim Tow, Herain Oberoi and Grant Culbertson.

What prerequisites must be met before deploying the new Database Mirroring feature?
Database Mirroring prerequisites in SP1 have not changed; they are the same as the RTM version of SQL Server as documented in SQL Server Books Online. What was done to make Database Mirroring "production ready?"
In SP1, Database Mirroring underwent more extensive tests to ensure that it provides the high quality and availability needed for mission-critical applications. What is SQL Server Management Studio Express?
Customers told us that they want the same user experience across all the editions for greater productivity and predictability. We responded with SQL Server Management Studio Express (SSMSE), a version of our enterprise management tools tailored for SQL Server 2005 Express Edition.

SSMSE has added more management dialogs, graphical designers for databases, tables, views and queries and graphical query execution plan display. In addition, SSMSE is based on the Visual Studio shell and uses the Visual Studio text editing facilities, which gives a much richer editing environment for T-SQL than was available in Express Manager. What versions of SQL Server can SSMSE be used with?
SSMSE focuses on managing tools and features specific to the Express edition of the product, yet it can be used with other SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2000 editions as well. How does this update address customer needs?
SSMSE provides customers with a free tool to include and use with SQL Express, while the added functionality of Full-Text Search and Reporting Services make it easier for customers to develop richer data-driven applications.

Furthermore, our partners needed a free, easy-to-use download that includes tools and features they can redistribute for free within their own applications for their customers. How has support for SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (BI) changed with SP1?
The new support for SAP NetWeaver BI is specifically related to SQL Server Reporting Services. Previously SQL Server was the underlying database on top of which SAP could run. Now, in addition to providing a data storage platform to run SAP NetWeaver BI, SQL Server also enables Reporting Services to directly query the SAP BW cubes in a meaningful way to enable report creation.

Keep in mind that SQL Server does not need to be the underlying database platform in order to build reports on SAP BW data. You could have SAP running on a different database and use SQL Server Reporting Services to query and report on the data. How will the .NET provider and MDX Query Designer work with SAP NetWeaver BI?
There is a detailed white paper to explain how it works: Using SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services with SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence What issues came up during the CTP, which were then addressed before SP1 was released?
The CTP model allowed us to gather relevant feedback from our customers that test our products. Though there were no significant issues that came up repeatedly, the feedback did promote two critical enough to include in the final SP1 release. One was an issue with the service pack install failing under strong password domain settings and another involved incorrect token replacement in SQL Agent job steps. Both were corrected for the RTW version of SQL Server 2005 SP1. Going forward, we will continue to embrace the CTP model to deliver what our customers need.

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