SQL 2008 – what’s changed, and what’s new?

As I am sure you can all Guess SQL 2008 is the next release of SQL Server, and does not redesign the wheel, and is more an enhancement to 2005.   Microsoft claim that they have made it more secure, more reliable, more scalable etc… etc…

Business Intelligence:

  • Analysis Scale and Performance: Allows more complex computations and aggregations and brings new cube design tools.
  • Block Computations: Provides a significant improvement in processing performance enabling users to increase the depth of their hierarchies and complexity of the computations.
  • Writeback: New MOLAP enabled writeback capabilities in SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services removes the need to query ROLAP partitions. This provides users with enhanced writeback scenarios from within analytical applications without sacrificing the traditional OLAP performance.
  • Enterprise Reporting Engine: Reports can easily be delivered both internally and externally with easier deployment and configuration.
  • Internet Report Deployment: Allows deploying of reports over the internet.
  • Report Builder Enhancements: Easily build ad-hoc and author reports with any structure through Report Designer.
  • Report Server Application Embedding: Report Server application embedding enables the URLs in reports and subscriptions to point back to frontend applications.
  • Microsoft Office Integration: SQL Server 2008 provides new Word rendering that enables users to consume reports directly from within Microsoft Office Word. In addition, the existing Excel renderer has been greatly enhanced to accommodate the support of features like nested data regions, sub-reports as well as merged cell improvements. This lets users maintain layout fidelity and improves the overall consumption of reports from Microsoft Office applications.


  • Language Integrated Query (LINQ) See previos Blog Entries on LINQ: Enable developers to issue queries against data using a managed programming language such as C# or VB.NET, instead of SQL statements. Enable seamless, strongly-typed, set-oriented queries written in.NET languages to run against ADO.Net (LINQ to SQL), ADO.Net DataSets (LINQ to DataSets), the ADO.NET Entity Framework (LINQ to Entities) and to the Entity Data Service Mapping provider. Use the new LINQ to SQL provider that enables developers to use LINQ directly on SQL Server 2008 tables and columns.
  • ADO.Net Object Services: The Object services layer of ADO.NET enables the materialization, change tracking, and persistence of data as CLR objects. Developers using the ADO.NET framework can program against a database using CLR objects that are managed by ADO.NET. SQL Server 2008 introduces more efficient, optimized support that improves performance and simplifies development.
  • DATE/TIME: SQL Server 2008 introduces new date and time data types:
    • DATE – a date only type
    • TIME – a time only type
    • DATETIMEOFFSET – a time zone aware datetime type
    • DATETIME2 – a datetime type w/ larger fractional seconds and year range than the existing DATETIME type
  • HIERARCHY ID: Enable database applications to model tree structures in a more efficient way than currently possible. New system type, HierarchyId, can store values that represent nodes in a hierarchy tree. This new type will be implemented as a CLR UDT, and will expose several efficient and useful built-in methods for creating and operating on hierarchy nodes with a flexible programming model.
  • FILESTREAM Data: Allow large binary data to be stored directly in an NTFS file system while preserving an integral part of the database and maintaining transactional consistency. Enable the scale-out of large binary data traditionally managed by the database to be stored outside the database on more cost-effective storage without comprise.
  • Integrated Full Text Search: The Integrated Full Text search makes the transition between Text Search and relational data seamless while enabling users to use the Text Indexes to perform high-speed text searches on large text columns.
  • Sparse Columns: NULL data consumes no physical space which provides a highly efficient way of managing empty data in a database. For example, Sparse Columns allows object models that typically have numerous null values to be stored in a SQL Server 2005 database without experiencing large space costs.
  • Large User Defined Types: SQL Server 2008 eliminates the 8KB limit for User Defined Types (UDTs) allowing users to dramatically expand the size of their UDTs.
  • Spatial Data Types: Build spatial capabilities into your applications by using the support for spatial data.
    • Implement Round Earth solutions with the geography data type. Use latitude and longitude coordinates to define areas on the Earth’s surface.
    • Implement Flat Earth solutions with the geometry data type. Store polygons, points, and lines that are associated with projected planar surfaces and naturally planar data, such as interior spaces


  • Transparent Data Encryption: Enable encryption of an entire database, data files or log files, without the need for application changes.
  • Extensible Key Management: Comprehensive solution for encryption and key management. Supports third-party key management and HSM products.
  • Auditing: Create and manage auditing via DDL enabling answers common questions such as “What data was retrieved?”
  • Built-in Forms Authentication: Built-in forms authentication enables users to easily switch between Windows and Forms.

Redundancy and Performance:

  • Enhanced Database Mirroring: Eliminates the need to specify the failover partner which enables existing applications to take advantage of mirroring.
  • Resource Governor: Provide a consistent and predictable response to end users with the introduction of Resource Governor.
  • Predictable Query Performance: Enable greater query performance stability and predictability by providing functionality to lock down query plans.
  • Data Compression: Enable data to be stored more effectively and reduce the storage requirements for your data. Data Compression also provides significant performance improvements for large I/O bound workloads like data warehousing.
  • Hot Add CPU: Dynamically scale a database on demand by allowing CPU resources to be added.
  • Declarative Management Framework (DMF):  Use DMF with SQL Server Management Studio to create policies that manage entities on the server, such as the instance of SQL Server, databases, and other SQL Server objects.
  • Performance Data Collection: More extensive performance data collection, a new centralized data repository for storing performance data and new tools for reporting and monitoring.
  • Backup Compression: Keeping disk-based backups online is expensive and time consuming. With SQL Server 2008 backup compression, less storage is required to keep backups online and backups run significantly faster since less disk I/O is required.
  • Partitioned Table Parallelism: Partitions enable organizations to manage large growing tables more effectively by transparently breaking them into manageable blocks of data. SQL Server 2008 builds on the advances of partitioning in SQL Server 2005 by improving the performance on large partitioned tables.
  • Star Join Query Optimizations: SQL Server 2008 provides improved query performance for common data warehouse scenarios. Star Join Query optimizations reduce query response time by recognizing data warehouse join patterns.
  • Grouping Sets: Grouping Sets is an extension to the GROUP BY clause that lets users define multiple groupings in the same query. Grouping Sets produces a single result set that is equivalent to a UNION ALL of differently grouped rows making aggregation querying and reporting easier and faster.
  • Change Data Capture: With Change Data Capture, changes are captured and placed in change tables. It captures complete content of changes and maintains cross table consistency and even works across schema changes. This enables organizations to integrate the latest information into the data warehouse.
  • MERGE SQL Statement: With the introduction of the MERGE SQL Statement, developers can more effectively handle common data warehousing scenarios like checking whether a row exists and then executing an insert or update.
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) Pipeline Improvements: Data Integration packages can now scale more effectively making use of available resources and managing the largest enterprise scale workloads. The new design improves the scalability of runtime into multiple processors.
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) Persistent Lookups: The need to perform lookups is one of the most common ETL operations. This is especially prevalent in data warehousing where fact records need to use lookups to transform business keys to their corresponding surrogates. SSIS increases the performance of lookups to support the largest tables.