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Microsoft releases SQL Server 2008

Microsoft released its SQL Server 2008 database to manufacturing

Microsoft has released SQL Server 2008 database to manufacturing, including with the release a new Web edition of the product aimed at its hosting partners, the company said Wednesday.

SQL Server 2008, which has been in beta testing for some time, is now available on the Microsoft Developer Network and Technet. An evaluation download will be available on the company's Web site on Thursday.

The product is available in seven editions, each designed for the needs of different customer segments. More information about the editions is available on the SQL Server 2008 Web site.

One of the editions that is new with the 2008 release is SQL Server 2008 Web. SQL Server 2008 Web is designed for hosting companies, providing the tools necessary to support low-cost, large-scale, highly available Web applications or hosting environments, according to Microsoft.

On a conference call Wednesday, company executives explained how feedback from customers spurred them to release a major upgrade to the database a mere three years after its previous release, SQL Server 2005.

They also felt the need to provide 10 reasons to justify upgrading to SQL Server 2008 when some companies have just begun to adopt the 2005 version of the product.

Customers might wonder "why would I upgrade?" only three years after the release, said Dan Jones, a SQL Server group program manager. He then went on to outline reasons -- including a new performance analysis tool and a resource governor that eases management of concurrent uploads -- for customers to adopt the new database.

In a press release, Microsoft cited several large enterprise customers who are testing SQL Server 2008, including Xerox, Siemens, Clear Channel Communications and Fidelity Investments.

Microsoft is trying to close the feature gap between its SQL Server product and Oracle's 11g database, and entice enterprise customers to use its software over Oracle's with a lower price point.

The company also is pushing SQL Server as much more than a database. The product is becoming the central data repository for Microsoft's data-management and business intelligence strategy. The company has made several recent acquisitions to achieve this end, including that of data-quality vendor Zoomix and data warehouse-appliance vendor DATAllegro.