Excellent session here at Tech-Ed from Francois Ajenstat (Director of Product Management for SQL Server) and others on new features in SQL Server 2008. It looks good: transparent data encryption; new policy-based admin; data compression that actually speeds performance; new datatypes including FILESTREAM, for queryable but unstructured data, and DATETIME2 for high-precision date/time; spatial data support so you can query by distance, for example; new entity-data framework (not the same as LINQ but works with it) for object-relational mapping; new REST-based data API code-named Astoria; richer reporting including features acquired from Dundas and removing the dependence on Internet Information Services.
It’s a significant upgrade, but when do we get it? I had previously assumed that it would be no later than February 27th 2008, the announced launch date for Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008. Visual Studio will actually be available to developers three months earlier, at the end of November. Not so SQL Server. Ajenstat said the version available at the launch will be a CTP (Community Tech Preview), with the final version coming in the “second quarter” – in other words, perhaps as late as June 2008.
By way of compensation, an earlier CTP coming later this month should contain most of the new features, unlike the preview available now.
Ajenstat also noted that SQL Server “vNext” is set for 2010-2011. I’m betting on 2011 at the earliest.