SQL Server 7.0 is feature packed. Let's look at some of the most significant features you can expect to see in this latest release.
Dynamic resource allocation. SQL Server 7.0's dynamic resource allocation is clearly a win-win feature. Dynamic resource allocation lets disk and memory usage scale to meet changing database demands. This flexibility lets SQL Server provide better performance and simplifies managing the software. The elimination of devices is an added bonus.
Windows 9x support. Support for the Win9x platform significantly expands the possible application base for SQL Server 7.0. When used with SQL Server 7.0's distributed merge replication, the Win9x support lets businesses with small branch offices that include only a few Win9x systems in each remote office use SQL Server applications across the entire enterprise.
Graphical Query Analyzer. SQL Server 6.5's ISQL/w utility is a handy and often essential tool for building and executing interactive SQL statements. SQL Server 7.0's new Query Analyzer represents an evolutionary step for this utility. Not only can you build stored procedures and perform interactive queries, but you can graphically display the steps the query processor uses to execute the query.
The Microsoft SQL Server OLAP Services. After all the uncertainty about whether Microsoft would add its online analytical processing (OLAP) server (code-named Plato) to SQL Server or ship it separately, having the new Microsoft SQL Server OLAP Services bundled with SQL Server 7.0 is like getting a free product. By providing Microsoft SQL Server OLAP Services as part of SQL Server, Microsoft has opened data warehousing, data marts, and deicison support to many small to midsized companies that might have never considered using this type of tool.
Data Transformation Services (DTS). SQL Server 7.0's new DTS feature is a powerful and flexible tool. Although Microsoft created it to facilitate data warehousing, the product's usefulness doesn't stop there. DTS simplifies importing and exporting data between any two Object Linking and Embedding Database (OLE DB)-compatible databases. DTS also generates Visual Basic Script (VBScript) files that you can run from the Windows Scripting Host (WSH) or other component object model (COM) environments.
Enhanced SQL Server Enterprise Manager (EM) functions. In addition to implementing the SQL Server EM as a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in, Microsoft enhanced the SQL Server EM with several new functions. The feature I like best is the ability to view the contents of a table directly from the SQL Server EM. Another handy function is the ability to directly change the data types of existing tables.
Although SQL Server 7.0 has a lot of high points, it also has a few low spots. Here are some areas in which the software might benefit from some improvement.
Installation and operation requires Internet Explorer (IE) 4.0. Like it or not, the Web browser interface continues to become more prevalent, and using it is the latest rage in interface development. Because Microsoft makes IE 4.0, I understand why the company wants to use it with SQL Server. However, I have no use for a Web browser on my database server, and installing it is a hassle I can live without. Going through all that IE 4.0 channel setup for features that I never intend to use on my database server seems silly.
Migration requires a database reload. Reloading all the data in a database is a serious task that invites potential data loss. The bigger the database, the more onerous this requirement becomes. However, judging from SQL Server 7.0's migration tools, Microsoft has taken this task seriously.
No Cascading Declarative Referential Integrity (DRI). The lack of Cascading DRI is probably SQL Server's biggest shortcoming in comparison with competing databases in the NT market. Even Access provides support for Cascading DRI. You can use triggers to compensate for this shortcoming, but you don't need to go this route with other databases, so you shouldn't need to do it with SQL Server 7.0. Considering SQL Server 7.0's other features, the fact that this one didn't make the cut is a shame.