SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, February 2, 2006--A Crystal Ball for Books Online

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February 2, 2006

1. Perspectives

  • The Future of BOL, Part 1
  • 2. News & Views

  • SQL Server Leads Microsoft Server Group Earnings for Q2
  • Results of Previous Instant Poll: Using Analysis Services
  • New Instant Poll: On Board with SQL Server 2005
  • 3. Events and Resources

  • SQL Server Magazine Connections, April 2-5, 2006
  • SQL Server 2005 Up & Running Roadshows Coming to Europe!
  • The Impact of Disk Defragmentation
  • Leveraging Your VoIP Network to Include Fax for IP
  • 4. Featured White Paper

  • Maximizing Your Windows Environment
  • 5. Peer to Peer

  • Hot Tip: Setting the Read/Write Cache for Different Types of Workloads
  • Hot Article: Visual Studio 2005 IDE Tips
  • In a Nutshell: SQLXML is for... uh... for... hmmm
  • Hot Threads
  • 6. Announcements

  • VIP Subscribers have it all!
  • Save 44% Off the Windows IT Security Newsletter
  • 7. New & Improved

  • Benefit From Enhanced Data Protection
  • Manage Your SQL Server Infrastructure

  • Sponsor: MailFrontier
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    1. Perspectives

  • The Future of BOL, Part 1

  • by Brian Moran, [email protected]

    I recently had the opportunity to speak with David Shank, Microsoft Group Documentation Manager for SQL Server User Education (the group responsible for SQL Server Books Online--BOL), who generously shared his group's visions and goals for the future of BOL. This topic covers a lot of ground, so over the next 3 weeks, I'll share the interesting tidbits I learned from David and add a few of my own opinions about what the future of BOL should look like. In addition, expect more commentary on this topic over the coming months. I'm a big fan of SQL Server BOL, and I'm excited about some of the short- and long-term changes that are in the works.

    This week, I look at the terms "continuous publishing model" and "reducing the friction in publishing," which David used multiple times during our conversation. One of David's key goals for BOL is to reduce the time for bringing new BOL updates to customers while simultaneously making the process of integrating customer feedback and requests more seamless.

    David explained that the User Education team has set an ambitious goal: to ship an updated BOL edition once every quarter. During SQL Server 2000's extended product cycle (more than 5 years), we saw only a handful of BOL updates, so shooting for four updates per year is a huge step. You might be asking, "Is that really necessary?" The short answer is yes. Microsoft's goal of continuous publishing is a great idea, especially in light of some of the more intriguing long-term plans that the company has for BOL, which I'll discuss in a moment.

    However, the fast pace of these updates could get a bit tedious for organizations that already have to stay up-to-date with lots of information. Microsoft recognizes this challenge and has committed to doing a better job of helping customers determine which new BOL versions might be helpful. Each updated BOL edition will include searchable tags that clearly identify new and modified topics. In addition a Change Revision summary at the bottom of each new and modified topic will make it easy to locate altered content within a topic. Future BOL updates will also include a summary (posted at the download site) that clearly identifies changes in the latest update. This summary will give customers the ability to see the extent of the changes and decide whether they want to bother with the upgrade. This summary wasn't available for the December 2005 refresh of BOL. But a new BOL topic, "New and Updated Books Online Topics," lists all of the new and modified content by subject area. The direct link to the online version of SQL Server 2005 documentation is http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=1FBD2:7B3DA .

    David went on to say that another of his goals is to reduce the time it takes to get new content into BOL to a week or less as customers provide feedback through the BOL online feedback mechanism. Full downloadable versions won't be released weekly, but David expects updates to the online version of BOL (which I hope won't be called Online Books Online) weekly--or even more frequently. David explained that Microsoft is looking at RSS feeds or a Windows Update mechanism to ensure that folks (e.g., SQL Server talking heads like me) who care about having the most up-to-date content can easily keep abreast of the granular changes to content as it happens.

    David stressed the importance the User Education team places on the BOL feedback loop. SQL Server 2000 Books Online has always had the option to submit feedback about a particular topic, but the option is a bit hidden. You get to the feedback option by clicking a teeny tiny email icon. David told me that when asked about the feedback icon, more than one Microsoft employee said, "Wow, I didn't know it was there." SQL Server 2005 BOL has a much more intuitive Send Feedback link at the top of the page and an easy-to-use submission tool at the bottom of the page. The submission tool lets you rank a particular topic on a scale of 1 to 5 and also lets you add free-form comments to the email message.

    Microsoft doesn't commit to responding to every piece of feedback, but assures me that every submission is read and acted upon as necessary. In fact, David used the expanded role of tutorials in SQL Server 2005 BOL as a good example of how Microsoft is responding to feedback from users. Apparently, the original plan for tutorials was fairly limited, but the community feedback during the beta cycle made it clear that users valued the tutorial content quite a bit. So Microsoft devoted substantial resources to improving tutorials in the SQL Server 2005 RTM version of BOL and has planned future enhancements.

    On that note, I'm going to stop for this week and will pick up the discussion of tutorials in BOL in next week's commentary.

    NOTE: David Shank has graciously invited SQL Server Magazine UPDATE readers to email him ideas about what BOL is doing well and not so well. Do you have feedback about what BOL should be? Send it to David at [email protected] Please send your feedback to me too at [email protected] and help me keep my finger on the pulse of the SQL Server community.

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    2. News & Views

    SQL Server Leads Microsoft Server Group Earnings for Q2
    Last week, Microsoft announced its earnings for the second quarter of its 2006 fiscal year, which ended December 31, noting the success of the launch of SQL Server 2005 as a significant contributor to the quarter's growth. For the fourteenth consecutive quarter, the Server and Tools group has reported double digit revenue growth. SQL Server led the way with growth of more than 20 percent over the previous year.

    "The growth in our core businesses was healthy during the quarter driven by strength in Server and Tools and the success of our Windows Client products in a robust PC market," said Chris Liddell, chief financial officer of Microsoft. "The quarter also marked the beginning of an important product cycle for Microsoft with the launches of Xbox 360, SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0, all of which were extremely successful and well received by our customers."

    In its announcement, Microsoft reported total revenue of $11.84 billion for the quarter, a 9 percent increase over the same period of the previous year, marking the highest quarterly revenue in the company's history.

    Results of Previous Instant Poll: Using Analysis Services
    "Are you using Analysis Services?" Here are the results from the 68 votes:

  • 25% Yes, we've been using it for years
  • 1% Yes, we've been using it for a few months
  • 6% Yes, we've just gotten started with it
  • 28% No, but we plan to use it in the future
  • 40% No, and we have no plans to use it
  • New Instant Poll: On Board with SQL Server 2005
    "Have you migrated to SQL Server 2005?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine home page ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=1FBCE:7B3DA ) and submit your vote for

  • Yes
  • No, but we plan to migrate in the next 3 months
  • No, but we plan to migrate in the next 6 months
  • No, but we plan to migrate in the next year
  • No, we have no plans to migrate to SQL Server 2005
  • 3. Events and Resources

  • SQL Server Magazine Connections, April 2-5, 2006

  • Now in its sixth year, SQL Server Magazine Connections returns to the Hyatt Grand Cypress Resort. We've scheduled more than 150 sessions with Microsoft and industry experts. Register early and attend sessions at Microsoft ASP.NET & Visual Studio Connections--and don't miss your chance to win a Harley Davidson motorcycle! Call 800-438-6720 or 203-268-3204.

  • SQL Server 2005 Up & Running Roadshows Coming to Europe!

  • SQL Server experts will present real-world information about administration, development, and business intelligence to help you put SQL Server 2005 into practice and learn how to use its new capabilities. Includes a one-year PASS membership and subscription to SQL Server Magazine. Register now for London, UK, and Stockholm, Sweden.

  • The Impact of Disk Defragmentation

  • Learn what impact fragmentation has on users and system activities and discover how quickly fragmentation accumulates as a result of these activities. Plus, get the recommendations you need to manage the frequency of defragmentation across your infrastructure.

  • Leveraging Your VoIP Network to Include Fax for IP

  • Leverage your current VoIP infrastructure to integrate boardless FoIP. Live Web Seminar Tuesday, February 21, 2006, at 12:00 P.M. EST.

  • See the complete Windows IT Pro Network guide to Web and live events.

  • http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=1FBCB:7B3DA

    4. Featured White Paper

  • Use server and storage consolidation to optimize your existing Windows server infrastructure. Find out how!

  • http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=1FBBB:7B3DA

    5. Peer to Peer

  • Tip: Setting the Read/Write Cache for Different Types of Workloads

  • by Brian Moran, [email protected]

    Q. My RAID controller lets me set the amount of cache dedicated to read and write operations. It's currently set to 50 percent read and 50 percent write. What are the best settings for different types of SQL Server workloads?

  • Read the answer to this question today at

  • http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=1FBBC:7B3DA

  • Hot Article: Visual Studio 2005 IDE Tips

  • In his February SELECT TOP(X) column "Visual Studio 2005 IDE Tips," Michael Otey shares several developer productivity tips for working with Visual Studio 2005. Read this article today and post your comments at

  • In a Nutshell: SQLXML is for... uh... for... hmmm

  • SQLXML is an addition to SQL Server that adds a number of XML features to the database. For example, SQLXML 3.0 (which shipped with SQL Server 2000) provided features such as SqlXmlAdapter, SqlXmlCommand, and SqlXmlParameter. In this week's blog "SQLXML is for... uh... for... hmmm," Kevin Kline finds some practical uses for SQLXML. Read the blog and let Kevin know what you think today at

    Hot Threads: Check out the following hot threads, and see other discussions in our 30 SQL Server forums.

    Administration: Transfer Database from One Server to Another
    T-SQL: String Rows Together
    Performance: SQL Cache
    SQL Server 2005 General Discussion: Unable to Move Master Database

    Hot Spot

  • Get the Most From Reporting Services

  • Get the tips and tricks you'll need to get the most out of Reporting Services.

    6. Announcements

  • VIP Subscribers have it all!

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    7. New & Improved

    by Blake Eno, [email protected]

    Benefit From Enhanced Data Protection
    XOsoft announced an alliance with BMC Software to provide you with a faster and more flexible backup and recovery solution. BMC SQL-BackTrack, a backup and recovery solution, will integrate with XOsoft WANSync replication and continuous data protection (CDP) technology to provide improved data-protection capabilities. Through this collaboration, you'll be able to attain enhanced Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and more detailed Recovery Point Objectives (RPO). For more information, contact XOsoft at 781-419-5200 or BMC Software at 800-841-2031.

    Manage Your SQL Server Infrastructure
    Idera announced SQL diagnostic manager (SQLdm) 4.0, a real-time performance-monitoring and diagnostic solution. A notable improvement for this release is the metrics repository, which looks at your SQL Servers, then stores performance and availability data in a central repository. The metrics repository also lets you create custom reports to perform trend analysis, capacity planning, data comparison, data correlation, and forecasting. SQLdm also includes pre-defined reports, sample reports, and custom report guides to enhance your reporting skills. Other updates include an enhanced Web console and SNMP alerting. Pricing for Idera SQLdm is $1295 per SQL Server instance. For more information, contact Idera at 713-523-4433 or 877-464-3372.

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